BATAVIA – Fourth Ward Alderman Tony Malay was appointed to the Batavia City Council a year-and-a-half ago, when he was selected by the council from among several applicants to take the place of an alderman who had resigned.
Now, Malay is being challenged by Anthony Schullo in the April 2 election for the remaining two years on the unexpired aldermanic term.
Malay, 50, moved to Batavia in 2003, but began his association with the community as a woodshop teacher at Rotolo Middle School in 1998.
A year later Malay started teaching in the building trades program at Batavia High School and served as president of the Batavia Education Association, the teachers union, from 2005 to 2014.
Since 2015, Malay has worked on the professional staff of the Illinois Education Association, providing assistance to local teachers unions in Kane County, including St. Charles.
Schullo, 25, came to Batavia three years ago and works as a human resources generalist at the Schaumburg offices of Innovation Group, a large software technology firm, handling employee relations and benefits.
For the past year, Schullo has served as a Democratic precinct committeeman.
Schullo has been careful not to criticize Malay, but also is looking to set himself apart.
“I have a unique view of what municipal government looks like,” Schullo said. “There’s a better approach to involve people,” he continued, saying there are opportunities to get feedback on issues from residents through focus groups.
Malay said he has learned much from his experience on the council.
“I feel I’ve gotten ahead of the curve,” Malay said.
Malay has repeatedly voted against the One Washington Place project, although he recently voted with the rest of his council colleagues in favor of the environmental cleanup plan that serves to move the project forward.
Schullo said the city could have done a better job of involving the public in making the decision on the project, but is not making the development an issue in the election.
On the question of a second Fox River bridge, Malay said the city needs to begin saving money to finance a bridge project. He said that if downtown redevelopment continues as hoped, traffic congestion will only increase.
“We have to plan for the future,” Malay said.
Schullo said the city needs to do more planning on a second bridge, particularly how the traffic flows through the community.
“You need data-driven decision-making,” Schullo said.
Neither candidate is happy with the city having an ownership state in the Prairie State coal-fired electricity plant.
“It was a mistake,” Malay said.
“It was a bad deal,” Schullo said.
Both suggest the city revive efforts to change the arrangement and believe coal should not be part of the city’s long-term energy plan.
The city is faced with the crumbling Fox River dam and the threat that poses to water levels in Depot Pond.
Malay said the city must work with the Batavia Park District to ensure the pond’s future and that both entities should work to expand recreational opportunities on the river.
Schullo said the city should consider repairs to the dam but perform a study and a cost-analysis before deciding how to protect the pond.
“We owe it to the community to make informed, principled, pragmatic decisions,” Schullo said.
Malay wants to get more young people involved with city government, suggesting the idea of a student advisory council.
Schullo believes the city should do more to provide incentives for small businesses to get started in Batavia.
The 4th Ward encompasses the northeast side of the city. With some deviations, the southern boundary is the Burlington Northern Railroad line, while its western boundary is the Fox River.
The ward takes in a portion of the downtown, where the southern boundary reaches to East Wilson Street.
Some of the city’s oldest residential neighborhoods are in the 4th Ward, as well as the tidy ranch homes of the Batavia Highlands subdivision to the north and the Batavia Apartments complex to the east.
Geographically, the 4th Ward is considerably larger than most of the other wards, because it includes the city’s industrial park, which extends east of Kirk Road.