ST. CHARLES – Second Ward aldermanic candidate Art Lemke is vying for the St. Charles City Council seat that was once his.
The two-term incumbent, Cliff Carrignan, defeated Lemke in 2005. Lemke’s 2011 bid for the other 2nd Ward seat was unsuccessful; he lost to Rita Payleitner.
Carrignan, who will be 58 by the April 9 election, is a sales manager for an industrial cutting tool company. He chairs the Planning and Development Committee and has chaired the Government Operations Committee. He is running for re-election because there are issues he wants addressed.
“I think there’s some unfinished business,” Carrignan said, specifically naming Charlestowne Mall. “I believe there is a solution for Charlestowne Mall. I think it has to be a creative solution with all stakeholders involved.”
Lemke, 65, is an information technology auditor for the Illinois Tollway. Through his work, he is familiar with the price of items, such as traffic lights and construction costs. As alderman, he said, he could identify whether bids and costs are appropriate.
Keeping an eye on the city’s finances is one of the reasons he is running for alderman, Lemke said. He is especially concerned with tax increment financing districts. The city’s next TIF should be for a development that generates retail sales tax or creates manufacturing jobs, he said.
“We are TIF’d out,” Lemke said.
Financial stewardship is one of things the city has done best, Carrignan said, noting its recent Aa1 credit rating. St. Charles also has strong reserves and completed Red Gate Bridge with nearly 50 percent grant funding.
“I think the city is strongly managed, and I want to make sure we stay that way,” Carrignan said.
Like other non-incumbent candidates in the city’s municipal elections, Lemke said he would push for a strong ethics ordinance. Carrignan said he, too, supports strong ethics in government, but he can’t comment on such an ordinance until a draft is in front of him.
In addition to Charlestowne Mall, Carrignan said his priorities would include the successful completion of Phase 3 of the First Street development. He wants a proposal from First Street or another entity by spring or summer so work could begin by next March. He cited financial and social reasons.
“In order for us to fund the TIF, we need to have a building there,” Carrignan said. With the popularity of the existing First Street development – especially in the summer – he added, “It’s obvious people want a place to come downtown.”
Lemke agreed that the First Street development must be addressed. In the short term, the riverfront property should be kept in attractive condition for future development, he said, suggesting sod there.
The city must also maintain its retail space, Lemke said. He doesn’t want large retail sites such as the former St. Charles Mall property to add residential elements.
“What retail needs is called a critical mass,” he said. “You need people to be able to make multiple stops when they go shopping.”