Five face off in Aurora’s 9th Ward primary race
By Stephanie Lulay email@example.com February 22, 2013 4:16PM
Marge Linnane, 9th Ward aldermanic candidate
Occupation: regional sales manager
Family: married, one young son
Previous office held: alderman at-large 2003-2007
Occupation: professional volleyball official
Family: wife, one young daughter
Previous office held: none
Website or Facebook page: none
Edward J. Bugg
Occupation: operating manager of a real estate firm
Family: wife, three young children
Previous office held: none
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/
Occupation: Glendale Heights assistant planning & zoning administrator
Family: husband, three grown daughters, 10 grandchildren
Previous office held: None
Occupation: director of community and corporate development at Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Family: two grown daughters
Previous office held: none
Website or Facebook page: www.aurora9thward.blogspot.com
Updated: March 25, 2013 6:28AM
AURORA — When 9th Ward Alderman Allan Lewandowski announced he wouldn’t seek election this spring to the post he was appointed to in 2011, five new 9th Ward hopefuls emerged.
The two who garner the most votes in Tuesday’s primary will get a spot on the April 9 ballot, and a stake in representing the city’s fastest-growing ward.
Candidate Bob Shelton, a regional sales manager, is a former Aurora alderman. Real estate director Edward Bugg, community relations director Matt Harrington and volleyball official Michael Ochs have all either run or applied to be appointed to the 9th Ward seat previously. Candidate Marge Linnane has been active in the ward but hasn’t made a run for office before this year.
Bugg said the ward’s Eola business corridor is struggling.
“For every two business that are there, there’s a vacant space,” Bugg said.
In an effort to beautify the storefronts, Bugg started an Eola corridor art project to put student art in vacant storefronts.
“It went very well and generated a lot more of a buzz about our businesses,” he said.
Shelton said that the downturn in the economy continues to take a toll on the ward.
“Ace Hardware is still vacant on Eola. People are losing their jobs and homes, which affects property values,” he said. “I’m a salesman, and I can (use that experience) to attract businesses to the 9th Ward.”
Ochs said that his top priority would be to eliminate “the horrible political agenda that has toxified this ward.” Saying that some people were excluded from participating, Ochs would aim to shut down the 9th Ward committee and start from scratch.
“The best thing to happen to this ward was a Christmas present two years ago when (former Alderman Leroy Keith) said he was resigning,” Ochs said. “(Lewandowski, who was appointed to Keith’s spot on the council) did a wonderful job of being ineffective.”
Linnane said that her goal as alderman would be to re-establish the lines of communication between the city and residents of the ward.
“I’ve been in public service for (about) 28 years. Serving people is what I love,” she said.
The ward needs a bigger police presence in the area to combat break-ins, Harrington said.
“What the community is hoping for is to get a response for better protection,” Harrington said, adding that residents are also concerned about their property taxes. “We need to take control of the budget.”
In the last year, Aurora aldermen have considered a number of big-bucks projects downtown, including a new main library location. On Tuesday, the City Council will consider a deal that brings a new restaurant to Restaurant Row.
And although the new 9th Ward alderman will spend most of their efforts improving the Far East Side ward, they’ll be one of 12 votes that decide what will happen, or not happen, downtown.
Ochs said the deal that aldermen will vote on Tuesday that would commit $750,000 in tax increment financing funds to bring a new restaurant to the downtown Restaurant Row is a bad one. He called the new downtown library “a huge waste of dollars.”
“The money that is being dolled out from the city has been thoughtlessly spent,” Ochs said.
Shelton said he didn’t know all of the details of the Restaurant Row deal, but he had concerns about the cost.
“That’s a lot of money to be putting up considering the track record (of the property),” Shelton said.
On the other hand, the new downtown library was a necessary investment in the entire community, Shelton said.
Linnane said she would support the Row deal.
“I believe that we need to do everything we can to bring more business to downtown Aurora,” she said.
She also would have voted in favor of a new downtown library location.
“I think redevelopment is just as important as new development,” Linnane said.
The Restaurant Row deal is worth supporting, with certain caveats built into the contract, Harrington said. A new library is, too, he said.
“I’m in favor of government and private partners working together so we can create a vibrant downtown area,” Harrington said.
Bugg said that while he’s all for economic development that spurs a successful downtown, he’d have to look at the numbers before he could say if he’d support the TIF-backed Restaurant Row. He would have voted to support a new downtown library, but said the Aurora library system does need to address other issues.