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Forum Plan of St. Charles Mayoral Candidate Draws Praise, Comparisons

Political foes say Wyatt plan makes sense, resembles their own plans, policies in St. Charles.

Jake Wyatt’s call for informal, open house-formatted “meet-and-greets” between the mayor and residents was applauded Tuesday by one of his opponents in the St. Charles mayoral race, but both he and another said the suggestion either resembles their own policies or campaign proposals.

Wyatt issued his call for monthly resident forums on Monday, pointing to the complaints being expressed that the City Council ignored residents’ voices when it approved the controversial Lexington Club development earlier this month.

Third Ward Alderman Raymond Rogina, who earlier had called for greater advance public notice to residents of upcoming council votes on controversial developments, on Tuesday commended Wyatt’s proposal, saying it reflects his own policy as alderman, one he intends to continue as mayor.

“I applaud Col. Wyatt for suggesting a more transparent process, particularly as it relates to any policy or proposal where residents are directly affected,” Rogina said. He added that Wyatt’s call for “monthly (or as needed) open forums” reflects Rogina’s own policy, in his mayoral campaign and during his time as alderman, which is “based … upon the idea of open dialogue with citizens on a regular basis.

Mayoral candidate John Rabchuk, who has taken criticism for his support of the Lexington Club development, pointed to his own announcement in early January of the launch of his campaign website and his plans for a monthly Breakfast with the Mayor at restaurants around the city.

“My plan is to request the heads of various city departments join me on some type of rotating basis so that we can best address specific questions that may arise,” Rabchuk wrote in an email Tuesday. “Regularly scheduled mayoral forums that are open to the public have been utilized by previous mayors, such as Fred Norris, to encourage community dialogue.”

In his release in early January, Rabchuk said he is committed to keeping lines of communications with residents and businesses open as he announced he would begin his Breakfasts with the Mayor-to-Be in late January. He said then he intends to continue the practice if he is elected.

Mayoral contender Jotham Stein praised Wyatt proposal, but he said it is complete, failing to address the city’s other critical needs, such as economic development.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy talking with people about lots of things, including their
concerns and desires, and thus, I believe Col. Wyatt's suggestion is good one,” said Stein. “The only way city leaders can learn from residents is by meeting them and asking them about their concerns and thoughts.”

Rogina’s praise was similar, pointing out that as a seated alderman, he already makes himself accessible to residents.

“As mayor, with limited outside responsibilities as a college instructor, I will  always be available to individuals or groups as needed,” Rogina said. “The view that a few vocal citizens are insignificant to any process is simply not good policy. The tone of government makes a difference in how people view and trust elected officials.”

Further, Rogina said, the role of an active alderman is crucial to transparent open government. “He or she is generally the person who initially dialogues about a major issue within the ward and in conjunction with the mayor and staff ensures that the citizenry is being heard,” he said.

“... Mr. Wyatt's proposal is incomplete because it does nothing to focus on many critical issues our City faces — including the critical need to recruit new businesses to our city,” Stein said. “From Charlestown Mall in the east to downtown to the old St. Charles Mall in the west, many of our storefronts, manufacturing facilities and office complexes are empty. Business tax revenue is the largest revenue source for our city.

“The more businesses we attract to St. Charles, the more jobs we will create, and since businesses
pay taxes, the lower the taxes we residents will have to pay,” Stein continued.

“As mayor, of course I will welcome everyone's comments and meet with every resident who wants to express an opinion,” Stein said. “Unlike the other candidates, it's always easy to find me — my business is on Third Street and my name is on a sign you can't miss.”

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Nancy Wilson March 15, 2013 at 01:28 PM
I disagree with the idea that any of our mayoral candidates will be closed to communication with the electorate. There does seem to be a very well organized group of individuals who want to make their views known and hope to exert influence regarding their positions on issues in the community. That makes sense in this political climate, but to make the leap from..."a small vocal group against Lexington" to "he will not listen to any public comments against his views" is a stretch. It is time for us to focus on development with some give and take in the process.
Henry James March 15, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Nancy it would be one thing if it was truly give and take, but for the last 8 years it has been all or nothing. The Lexington group was approching it with give an take unfortunately it ended up more taking from the developers. I have been one of those residents who have been involved, no I have met through these issues has ever said don't develop these properties, they just want them to be developed with something that will truly benefit the community. Not one of these proposals really do. The current mayor and council claim they want the public opinion yet when its given and it doesn't agree with their throughs and agendas they slam the residents. They seem to forget they work for us. I just pray our next mayor and council decide to get the residents involved early and treat them with the respect that the people deserve.
Nancy Wilson April 04, 2013 at 12:06 PM
I look around st. Charles today and wonder..."what has happened to this once vibrant city?". Of course, the economic downturn has put many small businesses on their heels and slowed the traffic to retail sites. Empty storefronts on main street, cavernous open space at the mall, vacant land that could be a retail center, factory sites from decades ago that cannot be cleaned up, proposals from business that cannot meet our guidelines...the list goes on. It seems that our current administration has stalled progress in the hopes that the arcada theater will draw new development. All I see happening there are occasional opportunities for patrons to come once, see a show and go to a restaurant or bar to finish off the night. Not exactly a spark for change. Let's think about this mayoral election with great seriousness. I see Mr. Rabchuk as the one individual who has consistently given specific ideas for returning st. Charles to its previous prominence in the fox valley. He provides a broad range of suggestions that will enhance our parks, riverfront, cultural and recreational opportunities and a reason for others to want to live and work here. As a businessman, he knows how to work with others for consensus and move a project ahead. He will continue to reach out to the residents and attract new business that will greatly benefit our community. He's accomplished much here as a volunteer and will use his abilities as mayor to make STC a great place to live for years to come.
Henry James April 04, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Nancy I wish I could agree with you, but I see Mr. Rabchuk in a different light. He has often through the Lexington discussion and Comprehensive Plan discussion, put the residents down in a very disrespectful manner. He has connections with concrete companies and has admitted to being in favor of high density developments and not just downtown. What I see is someone who will carry on in the same fashion as our current administration. I won't say they are waiting for the Arcada, I don't think that is really the case, they just have been doing nothing but pushing for high density residential and forgotten about commercial and now we are where we are. After watching Rabchuks actions I feel we will have another term of the same old same old with him and I can't take that chance with my vote.
Nancy Wilson April 04, 2013 at 03:09 PM
I find it interesting that we see the same person but in a different light. That's the nature of politics i guess. I do agree that it is important to re-energize our city government and avoid the same path we have been on for years. I do not think, however, that John Rabchuk would diminish those efforts. I have seen him on a committee, worked with him as a volunteer and have never known him to treat others with disrespect. He has been involved for more than a decade trying to improve our town...a dedication that not many others have had. I invite you to get in touch with him or attend a community or campaign event for a bit of personal conversation. Please review his website, rabchukformayor, for even more info. I have followed the other candidates and still believe John is the right leader for us.

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