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VanDerHeyden challenges Turner in St. Charles' 3rd Ward

Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – Voters in the 3rd Ward will decide next month whether they want incumbent Bill Turner or challenger Mario VanDerHeyden to represent them for the next four years.

Whatever the outcome, April 9 will be voters’ last chance to elect Turner to city office. The 66-year-old said three terms would be enough. He is content with serving two terms, he said, but he believes continuity is needed on the City Council, which will get a new mayor and could get up to four new aldermen.

“I feel there’s going to be economic growth opportunities in the city coming in the next few years,” Turner said. “We need an experienced council that will separate out what is good and what is not so good.”

VanDerHeyden, who ran an unsuccessful aldermanic bid in 1995, said being alderman would be his way of saying thank you for the decades of service his family and ancestors have received from the city. He would offer the 3rd Ward a stronger voice, he said. He referenced the City Council’s January favorable vote on housing development Lexington Club, which many 3rd Ward residents criticized. Turner voted against it, along with four others.

If aldermen in support of the project had received a stronger voice from Turner, VanDerHeyden said, “maybe it would have been a different outcome.”

Turner said he doesn’t know whether he could have done more because he isn’t sure why two of the aldermen who supported the project voted differently than they did in committee.

If re-elected, Turner said he would like to complete a third water tower, rehabilitate sewer and storm systems and improve water quality in the city’s west and north sides. He also wants progress on the First Street development.

“I will not grant another extension to the present developers,” he said, calling for new proposals. “Let’s get creative down there.”

VanDerHeyden, 40, would support an ethics ordinance and would address issues his neighbors have identified as concerns, including Charlestowne Mall, the level of police service in their ward and traffic. Specifically, he said, he would address traffic on Route 64 and Seventh, Dean and State streets.

“It’s like a little racetrack around here,” he said.

Talking with constituents and businesses would be among VanDerHeyden’s priorities, he said. Although residents can learn about the city’s finances through documents online, he said he would make it a point to educate residents on how their taxes are being spent.

The fractured relationship between the community and City Council also must be repaired, VanDerHeyden said. In addition to talking with and seeking input from neighbors and businesses, he said, he would want residents to be allowed to speak at meetings. He cited the night of the Lexington Club vote, when the meeting was adjourned before a resident could make his way to the podium to speak.

“That was disgraceful,” VanDerHeyden said.

Usually, Turner said, residents are allowed to speak, and he described that night as a single instance. With most of the discontent stemming from Lexington Club, he said, he is not sure major improvements are needed with the council’s relationship with the residents.

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