Aldermanic candidates from Ward 2, Ward 3 and Ward 6 made their respective cases for election Thursday, March 12, at a candidate forum sponsored by O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce and the O’Fallon Progress.
Dr. Morris Taylor, Associate Professor & Chairman of the Department of Public Administration & Policy Analysis, moderated the forum, which took place in council chambers at city hall..
Candidates presented a brief introduction of themselves, answered one question that was the same for each, answered one random question drawn by Dr. Taylor and then had time for a rebuttal/summarization/closing remarks.
Ward 2 candidates Robert Kueker and Ed True started. Each was asked about their involvement with city council/committees and the city.
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True then was asked about specific ways the city could help with business retention.
“We need to be vigil and try to work out the concerns people or businesses might have to the best of our ability,” he said.
Kueker was asked if elected, what would be his top priority in representing his Ward and as the city as a whole.
“I would make sure we are doing the right things, setting the right priorities. And I would like to imrpove the communication with the residents of the Ward,” he said.
Ward 3 candidates Kevin Hagarty and Vern Malare went next.
Each was asked the common question about their involvement with city council/committees and the city.
Malare then was asked what he believes an alderman’s role should in representing the residents, specifically if emphasis should be placed upon those in their Ward or the city as a whole.
“I believe the voice of the people should be brought out by the aldermen. It’s important that you listen to the people in your Ward,” Malare said.
Hagarty’s question involved the explosive growth O’Fallon has experienced the past 10 years, with specific emphasis on how he’d manage said growth and potential future growth.
“How you control it? You have to do it piece by piece. I think economically, things are going in a good direction,” Hagarty said.
Ward 6 candidates Ned Drolet and Ashley Jones followed.
Each also was asked the common question about their involvement with city council/committees and the city.
Jones then was asked about attracting if it’s more important to attract additional retail business, private industry, hard industry, light industry or a mixture of all to the city.
“I think a mixture. I think business is a huge factor,” she said.
Drolet then was asked his position on the use of TIF—Tax Increment Financing—for dedvelopment projects.
“I think TIF’s are abused. I think there are times we call an area blighted and it’s not blighted,” he said.
Below is a quick snippet from each candidate—by Ward, in alphabetical order of last name—as provided in their respective biographical forms submitted to the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce.
Kueker: “My goals are to prioritize public safety, infrastructure needs and smart growth in an affordable manner, while keeping the needs and concerns of residents at the forefront of planning decisions.”
True: “Currently, I am chairman of the Parks and Recreation committee. As such, I want to continue vigilant oversight of the uses of tax dollars.”
Hagarty: “Significant challenges are preserving and improving the services and infrastructure of our city. I will work to see that they get the attention that they need and that they are adequately financed.”
Malare: “Challenges are aligning community needs with financial restraints while balancing the growth wanted within the city (to generate more revenue). Another challenge is increasing citizen involvement.”
Drolet: “Finances have been and continue to be a significant challenge. Determining what is best for the community regarding the the lease of the water/sewer departments will be of major concern to me.”
Jones: “I believe O’Fallon residents deserve the best and most responsive citizen representation to ensure that our city remains an affordable, dynamic and modern place to live and raise a family.”
The election is set for Tuesday, April 7.