ST. CHARLES – Maureen Lewis won the 5th Ward alderman seat by two votes in 2011. This spring, the candidate she edged out – Kim Malay – will try again to represent that southwestern swath of St. Charles.
Malay, 46, said Lewis, who was born and raised in St. Charles, is using her longtime residency as a bonus point. Malay wants voters to know that, although she’s not a St. Charles native, she’s been involved with the community for about 18 years and has chosen to make it her home.
“My commitment and my passion for this community runs extremely deep,” Malay said. “I want to make St. Charles the best it can be. I know we can do better.”
Lewis, 64, said it’s rewarding to represent the town in which she grew up. She compared her service on City Council to her time as a high school cheerleader.
“Now I’m a cheerleader down here at City Hall,” the retiree said.
With a new mayor also to be elected April 9, Lewis said experienced aldermen are needed on the council. The past two years have been a learning curve for her, she said, adding nobody can start this position and “hit the ground running.”
Malay, an optician, said she has a well-rounded knowledge of how government works and what can and can’t be done because she has worked in government for eight years with DuPage County and 15 years in the St. Charles Community Development Department.
“Because of what my jobs were at both the county and at St. Charles, I worked one-on-one with residents and developers,” Malay said. “I really do have an understanding of how complicated it can be for residents and developers to get through the process.”
If re-elected, Lewis said she would support a walkable and bikeable community and wants the City Council to maintain its fiscal responsibility, continue work on Charlestowne Mall and address the First Street development.
“I’m tired of looking at it. It looks unkempt,” said Lewis, noting the same is true for the former St. Charles Mall site.
An outspoken resident at meetings – especially those involving proposed housing developments – Malay said the City Council needs to build a better relationship with residents. Her solutions include letting residents speak more, even if their comments echo others’ concerns; getting residents involved in the process and discussions with developers earlier; and bringing development plans back for discussion whenever there is an increase in density.
“The way things have gone, especially Lexington Club, there’s definitely a lack of trust now for some of the residents,” Malay said. “The residents feel slightly disrespected.”
Lewis, who voted against Lexington Club, said she feels bad that residents feel they can’t trust their government. She noted disappointment is different than mistrust.
“We all learned a little bit from that,” Lewis said of Lexington Club, a housing project that the City Council narrowly approved in January.
Like other non-incumbent candidates, Malay has voiced support for an ethics ordinance. She would support one that not only would include all elected officials but also commission members and city staff, she said, calling it a no-brainer.
“Let’s face it; we’re in Illinois,” Malay said. “That in itself has some issues.”
Lewis said she is surprised by the push for an ethics ordinance because the city already has one; it is in the city’s code book. She questioned what the candidates want to add or delete from the language.
“Could it be better?” she asked, answering herself by saying it is years old.