ST. CHARLES – Four men believe they have what it takes to be St. Charles’ next mayor.
On April 9, residents will decide whether John Rabchuk, Ray Rogina, Jotham Stein or Jake Wyatt is fit for the job.
Incumbent Don DeWitte is not seeking re-election.
Rabchuk and Wyatt have scheduled time to meet voters in an informal setting. Saturday, Rabchuk will host a “breakfast with the candidate” from 9 to 11 a.m. at Dolce Bakery and Cafe, 131 S. First St., and Wyatt will host “coffee with Jake” from 9:30 a.m. to noon at American Legion Post 342, 1150 N. Fifth Ave., Suite C.
Voters likely are familiar with Rogina, who was elected to the City Council in 2011, and Stein, who ran against DeWitte in 2009 and ran against two others for 5th Ward alderman in 2011.
Wyatt and Rogina have called for changes regarding public comment in the wake of the City Council’s 6-5 vote approving contested housing development Lexington Club.
Rogina would support a policy ensuring the public is notified at least seven days before a vote on controversial developments, he said. He noted it would give residents a reasonable amount of time to lobby their aldermen.
Wyatt wants to hold a forum before City Council meetings so citizens and special interest groups can discuss their concerns directly. During meetings, he said, he wants to allow public comment before the council votes.
“At least then I feel the citizens of the community have been heard,” Wyatt said.
Stein and Rabchuk are concerned about the city’s economy and have different plans for addressing it.
Stein aims to bring businesses to St. Charles, saying increasing tax revenues should lessen the tax burden on homeowners. As a business lawyer with an office in St. Charles, he said he has the skills to talk with and recruit companies. With vacant storefronts throughout the city, he wouldn’t focus on revitalizing a specific area.
“My goal isn’t to push one part of the city over the other,” Stein said. “It’s to make the whole city vital.”
Reinvigorating the city will take more than recruiting businesses, Rabchuk said. Drawing people to town with cycling and other recreational activities also contributes to the community’s health.
In the long term, Rabchuk said he wants to build a lifestyle attractive to the younger demographic eager to live in Chicago. Refocusing and gearing toward that vision will take time, he said, noting housing and transportation would need to be addressed. The city can begin working toward that goal by completing low-cost, short-term projects, he said.
Other concerns and priorities:
• Wyatt is concerned about the city’s fiscal health, particularly regarding the tax increment financing districts. He wants to address the unfinished First Street development, work with the Charlestowne Mall owners to revitalize the property and meet with the owner of the former St. Charles Mall site to discuss development options.
• Stein, who said he wants to make St. Charles the most ethical municipal government in Illinois, would propose an ordinance stating the mayor shall do no business with anybody who does business with the city. Regarding developments, he would negotiate in the citizens’ best interests, he said, noting he recently wrote a book on negotiation.
• Rogina supports reasonable reforms to the liquor code. His suggestions include making a 2 a.m. liquor license a privilege and outlining specific consequences for bar owners cited for violations to eliminate subjectivity.
• Rabchuck would establish STC Corps, a volunteer-run organization matching local resources with local projects and needs. St. Charles needs leadership, he said, adding his civic involvement has included serving on the Downtown St. Charles Partnership, the 708 Mental Health Board and the River Corridor Foundation.