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St. Charles hopefuls partake in three-way race for 1st Ward alderman

ST. CHARLES – The race for 1st Ward alderman in St. Charles is much like it was four years ago.

Incumbent Jon Monken is squaring off against Ron Silkaitis, whom he unseated in 2009. Joining them is Justin Osborne, a 23-year-old Northern Illinois University student who also works full-time as a machinist in Bensenville.

“I want to become an alderman so I can help refine the community within which I would like to raise a family of my own, to realize the vision of government I wish to live under after my term is up and one that will inspire others within that government to continue likewise, and also to challenge myself in new and exciting ways that will benefit not just myself but also my fellow residents of St. Charles,” Osborne said in an email.

For Monken, 61, a second term would be a way to further give back to the city he and his wife have lived in for nearly three decades. He also is involved in the St. Charles Noon Rotary, St. Charles Chamber of Commerce, Downtown St. Charles Partnership and the Norris Recreation Center, where he is executive director.

“This is just my way of paying back to a community that’s given me and my wife more than we could ask for,” he said.

Silkaitis, 56, is a service technician at Zimmerman Ford. He seeks to return to city government because he has issues with the City Council and the leadership, he said.

“I didn’t like the way things are going in the city right now,” he said.

Specifically, Silkaitis said he disagreed with the City Council approving tax increment financing funds for the Lexington Club residential development. When aldermen change their votes on an issue like they did on Lexington, he said, they should explain their reasons at the time of the vote – not days later.

“I can take criticism,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me.”

Monken, who changed his stance on the Lexington Club TIF, said he respected the public’s concerns and comments. But he also took into account the Plan Commission’s favorable recommendation and voted in the city’s best interests.

“I truly respect the people that voiced their opinions,” Monken said. “It’s not that I didn’t hear what they had to say. It’s almost like being a parent. Sometimes you have to say, ‘no.’ ”

Osborne said the City Council could improve its visibility because some don’t know the names of their aldermen or that there are two aldermen per ward.

“The City Council should work to make itself known, to tap residents for their feelings on city issues whenever possible, distributing information to better educate and enlighten residents on those issues, and, if a vote is contrary to those feelings, explaining thoroughly the reasons for that vote,” Osborne said.

As alderman, Monken said he views his job as the communicator between his constituents and city staff, who manage the city’s operations. If re-elected, he said, he would maintain his relationships with department heads in addition to keeping an eye on green space as the city grows and focusing on fiscal responsibility. He credited staff for St. Charles’ fiscal management.

“Our budget and bond ratings speak for themselves,” Monken said.

Silkaitis said he wants to address the problems related to the bars downtown. The liquor ordinance needs to be reviewed, he said.

“My concern is this is winter time,” Silkaitis said. “What’s going to happen in the summer?”

Osborne wants to see progress made on Charlestowne Mall, the former St. Charles Mall site and the cultural and economic life downtown, he said.

He said his youth puts him in the unique position to represent the community’s young people.

The election is April 9.

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