BATAVIA – Veteran Batavia 2nd Ward Alderman Alan Wolff is facing a challenge from attorney Leonard Solfa in the April 2 election.
Wolff has served 16 years on the Batavia City Council and is seeking a fifth term in office.
If re-elected, Wolff will become the city’s most senior alderman, meaning he will serve as chairman at the council’s weekly committee-of-the-whole meetings and as mayor pro-tem at full council meetings whenever Mayor Jeff Schielke is not present.
Solfa, 70, is a 41-year Batavia resident making his first run for public office. He has an active law practice and served many years as general counsel and chief operating officer at Mooseheart.
As an attorney, Solfa said he has negotiated land use deals and corporate purchases, and said he has lobbying experience at the state and federal level.
“I bring a strong business background of leadership and board management,” Solfa said.
Wolff, 52, has lived in Batavia since 1971 and has worked 35 years as an automotive mechanic at Batavia Avenue Mobil.
Since 2005, Wolff has served on the board of Batavia Access Television and is currently the board president. Wolff’s voice is familiar to residents as the BATV announcer for Batavia High School football and basketball games.
Wolff currently serves on the Tri-City Ambulance Board, and said Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles save a considerable amount of money on the combined service.
“The experience that I’ve gained on the council has made me a better listener and a more objective decision-maker,” Wolff said.
Wolff believes that a major challenge facing the city government will be personnel, with a large number of city employees approaching retirement age. He said the must plan ahead for attracting the best workers.
The incumbent alderman also said the city must plan ahead for a second Fox River bridge by starting to save money to fund the project while the city conducts a study to determine a location.
Solfa also said that identifying and funding a second bridge will be of critical importance to the city. Holding the line on property taxes, protecting the interests of senior citizens and maintaining the city’s existing fund surplus should be priorities, Solfa said.
Solfa is critical of the Prairie State coal-burning electric plant in which the city has an ownership stake, contending that the city should make a new attempt to renegotiate the deal. Like Wolff, he said the city needs to increase its electrical load by attracting more large-scale industrial users.
With the city facing the issue of the crumbling Fox River dam and the potential threat to Depot Pond, both candidates say new engineering studies should be performed.
Wolff wants the city and the Batavia Park District to continue investigating the possibility of enclosing the pond with a curving berm extending from the north end of the Batavia Riverwalk peninsula northwest to the west bank of the river.
By placing a bike trail atop the berm, the city could obtain state transportation grant money to help finance the project, Wolff said, adding that he wants to see the city and park district expand recreational opportunities and make the river a bigger attraction.
Solfa is emphasizing his stance as a fiscal conservative and said he would use his training as an attorney to ensure safeguards are included in city contracts.
Wolff, noting an excellent attendance record at city meetings, said he would provide continuity and insight gained from his experience.
Solfa said he would offer a new voice to residents and a new perspective to city business.
The 2nd Ward encompasses portions of the near southwest side of the city, including old established neighborhoods along Blaine and Morton streets, as well as newer areas centered along Bernadette Lane and Towne Avenue and further south to the city limits.
West of North Van Nortwick Avenue, the ward extends as far north as McKee Street, and takes in neighborhoods near Batavia High School, including the Green Meadows Apartments complex.
The middle portion of the ward is centered along a section of Main Street, in a neighborhood with a curious mix of old and new residences and legacy commercial and industrial properties, pocked with islands of unincorporated Batavia Township.