GENEVA – Geneva voters will see some incumbents, a returning candidate and newcomers on the April 2 ballot for aldermen in three of its five wards with races.
The 5th Ward will pit former alderman Tom Simonian against four-term incumbent Craig Maladra.
“I am tired of my tax dollars being spent by a tax-and-spend, rubber-stamped and status quo alderman,” Simonian said in a text message. “It’s time for someone to be both responsible to and represent the people who elected you.”
A local businessman, Simonian was appointed in 2013 to fill the vacancy left by the death of Ralph Dantino. In his 2017 bid for mayor, Simonian lost to Kevin Burns by more than 1,500 votes.
Maladra, a vice president at Northern Trust, said he is seeking a fifth term to “do my part to do the work to make sure Geneva stays a place where people want to live, work, visit and raise a family.”
“The 5th Ward is going to have a choice between two very different approaches in styles that will be interesting,” Maladra said. “I think the challenges we are going to face going forward require a measured, balanced, experienced approach. And that is what I bring to the table.”
Though he has been on the council 16 years, Maladra said the issues were different for each year.
When he was first elected, the city was challenged by rapid growth, followed by the challenge of the Great Recession, Maladra said.
“Now ... we are a community at nearly build-out in a post-recession environment,” Maladra said.
In the 2nd Ward, incumbent Alderman Michael Clements will face newcomer Tad Hemming.
Clements, who works in the finance industry, was appointed in June to replace Don Cummings who moved out of the ward. Clements had run unsuccessfully against 2nd Ward Alderman Richard Marks, who recommended Clements for the vacancy.
“I have invested a lot of time and energy learning the ropes and it would be a waste of my resources to just walk away at this point,” Clements said of his time on the council.
“It would also be a waste of the city’s resources,” Clements said. “In the span of one year, if I didn’t run, this seat would have three different aldermen. That’s a lot of turnover in a short period of time. It is not good for business, government or any other entity. Some consistency is good.”
Hemming, the project superintendent at Havlicek Builders in Geneva, said he chose to run for alderman to give back to the community.
“I’m a lifelong resident of Geneva, born here and lived here for my whole life,” Hemming said. “I thought right now, I can get involved with the politics a little bit. … I have the same ideas, trying to keep spending under control and fiscal responsibility to the community. It’s a great community and I’d like to maintain that.”
Fourth Ward Alderman James Radecki chose not to seek re-election. Newcomers Paula Merrington and Gabriel Kaven will vie for that seat.
Merrington, formerly a nurse who is now a contracted worker at FONA, said she has been watching the City Council meetings and keeping up on the issues.
“I have always been very involved in the communities where I lived,” Merrington said. “I’ve been on the homeowners association or the PTA or some capacity such as that. … I have a large network in Geneva. .... I hear people talking about the city and what is going on in the city. I think I can make a difference and that is why I am running.”
Kaven, an operations manager for an education company, said he wanted to be involved in public service.
“I think that Geneva is a great all-around community, the place where we chose to raise our kids,” Kaven said. “And I think public service plays an important role in our community. That’s why I’ve decided to run for alderman.”