BATAVIA – Two candidates are running for an open seat representing the 4th Ward on the Batavia City Council in the April 2 election.
Susan “Suz” Alderson and Joe Knopp are seeking a four-year-term on the council to replace Alderman Susan Stark, who after serving two terms decided not to seek re-election.
It is the first electoral bid for public office by either candidate, although Knopp sought but did not receive an appointment to the council when a vacancy occurred in the other 4th Ward seat more than a year ago.
Alderson, 55, is an 18-year resident of Batavia who is stressing her desire to open up a dialogue with 4th Ward residents and use their voices and goals for setting public policy.
Knopp, 56, has lived in Batavia for about 23 years and said he will use his engineering experience for his approach to problem-solving.
Alderson is an assistant dean and instructional designer for an area university, working on course development. Previously, Alderson owned and operated a party and event planning business in Batavia for many years and served as volunteer robotics coach for Batavia youth.
Knopp is a sales engineer for a company selling seals and gaskets. He volunteered as a Cub Scout master for Batavia Pack 112 for 15 years and served as a commissioner with the Fox Valley District Three Fires Council of the Boy Scouts.
In addition, Knopp is a certified football official for the Illinois High School Association, working as a line judge at high school games in the region for the past 14 years.
Both Alderson and Knopp say their candidacies are natural extensions of their experiences and community involvement.
“I have the time, energy and commitment to follow through,” Alderson said. “I want there to be a connection between the average citizen and the council.”
Knopp said his work as an engineer will guide him to evaluate problems methodically before making a decision, while his work as a football official will allow him “to stick by the rules and don’t take it personally.”
Both candidates say that one of the biggest challenges facing the city is maintaining its infrastructure.
“The challenge will be keeping up what we have, plus expanding,” Knopp said. “How do we do both?”
Neither Alderson nor Knopp is enthusiastic about the One Washington Place project, but both regard the issue has having been decided by the council.
On the question of a second Fox River bridge, Knopp supports the idea more strongly, arguing that the city should begin saving money now to fund a new span in the future.
Alderson said she is not for or against a second bridge, but suggested that the cost and logistics may make such a project prohibitive.
Similarly, on the question of Batavia’s deteriorating Fox River dam and the potential ramifications for Depot Pond, Knopp expressed support for the possibility of enclosing the pond to maintain its viability, while Alderson said she wants more information on the options.
“I can only promise to be informed and ask questions,” Alderson said.
Knopp said Batavia needs to attract more large-scale electrical users to close the gap between the generating capacity at the downstate Prairie State coal plant in which the city has an ownership stake, and actual usage, in order to bring down electric rates charged to residents.
To encourage improvements to residential areas, the city should consider the possibility of offering financial incentives, perhaps matching grants, Knopp said.
Alderson said communication with 4th Ward residents through telephone, email and social media will be the key, pledging regular meetings with residents at homes or businesses.
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.