AURORA, IL – Aurora Patch provided questionnaires to all mayoral candidates ahead of the April 6th consolidated local elections.
Three candidates are vying to be elected next Mayor of Aurora on Election Day – incumbent Mayor Richard Irvin, Ald. Judd Lofchie and John Laesch.
Aurora Patch publishes all candidate responses verbatim.
Age (from election day): 63
Place of residence: Aurora
Office wanted: Aurora Major
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government? No
Education: BS Economics from the University of Michigan; Juris Doctor (Law) from Pepperdine University; Masters in Law (MML) from American University
Occupation: Attorney and Commercial Real Estate Agent since 1988. My office has been in Aurora for 25 years.
Campaign website: https://www.juddforaurora.com
Previous or currently elected or appointed office: Aurora Alderman City, 10th District – elected in 2017
The most pressing issue we face (board of directors, district, etc.) is _______ and this is what I intend to do about it.
The most pressing problem facing the city of Aurora is debt! Aurora has $ 1.1 billion in debt. City guides cannot pass this burden on to our already financially troubled taxpayers. New program expenditures that significantly increase our debt will have to be suspended, at least temporarily. I will also reduce wasteful spending, restructure debt where it is beneficial, and keep the city on a tight budget until the current economic climate improves. Less than a second after the debt is public safety. Our residents and guests of our city need to feel safe while they live, work and enjoy our community. As mayor, I will work with our police force, neighborhood groups, youth centers, and the county sheriff to address Aurora’s rising crime rate.
CONNECTED: John Laesch: Candidate for Mayor of Aurora
Do you support Black Lives Matter and what do you think of the demonstrations since the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake?
As mayor, it will be my goal that all residents and guests in our city feel safe, work and visit. I believe our citizens should be free to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of expression through peaceful demonstrations.
Do you think the current board has done enough to support racial equality and, if not, what specifically should be done to do so?
As Mayor, I will continue to develop the Civilian Review Board by improving representation to reflect the diversity of our community. Additionally, I would like to explore the idea of ”setting aside” funds to provide capital for minority entrepreneurs who have an interest in doing business in Aurora.
What do you think of the national and local coronavirus response? Do you prefer actions like restricting non-essential businesses from operating and restricting eating indoors and outdoors? And do you prefer a local mask mandate?
I have seen remarkable engagement from the citizens of our nation, including the citizens of Aurora, for social distancing, wearing masks and hand washing, etc. Many companies in Aurora and across our country have taken costly measures to continue to serve their customers safely. I hope that in the foreseeable future, if we continue to fight the pandemic through the distribution of vaccines, our businesses can safely and fully reopen. As mayor, I will take advice from the CDC and local health authorities regarding mask mandates, etc.
What do you think about the distribution of state and local coronavirus vaccines, and how do you think local governments should work together to cope with vaccine adoption?
Aurora is unique in that we are served by four different units of the county government. I believe city leaders need to step in to coordinate the distribution of vaccines and other resources. I believe that we will see an increase in the number of cases as more citizens are vaccinated. One area we can look at is a “low-tech” option for citizens with no internet access or knowledge of the internet who want to secure vaccination appointments. Often times, these are the citizens who are most vulnerable to the effects of the virus, especially the elderly.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
The most critical difference between my opponents and myself is my plan for city finances. The current mayor’s irresponsible housekeeping has added over $ 65 million to our budget without any significant benefit to residents or guests. With the city’s incomes falling and many taxpayers struggling to keep their homes and businesses, now is not the time to increase our spending.
If you are a challenger, how has the current council or officer of the ward (or district or constituency) failed?
The current mayor has failed our community due to ineffective capital projects and insubstantial spending. In addition, the lack of communication and inclusive management between the city council, staff and police has likely contributed to an increase in crime in the city. Everyone involved needs to have a voice for the city to move forward.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform
The themes that define my campaign are financial responsibility, public safety and economic development. We can serve residents and provide necessary urban services in a tax-responsible manner by managing debt, working within a budget, and improving efficiency. We need to bring everyone to the table in order to improve the security of our city. Public safety is central to economic development. Ultimately, we need to improve our city’s revenue generating resources like downtown, the riverside and the airport. Promoting economic development in the city is a key component of our sources of income and budget constraints.
What past accomplishments would you cite as evidence that you can handle this job?
I have been an Aurora resident for more than 25 years, a business owner and community volunteer. I have successfully run my business within a budget, overcoming obstacles and challenges to improve my business. As an elected member of Aurora City Council since 2017, I have an in-depth awareness and knowledge of the problems our city is facing and I am ready to propose solutions. As a resident of Aurora, I have given my time to make the city better for all residents through groups like Aurora Business United, a networking group I founded that has grown to over 2,500 members. Working at Aurora Business United and as a lawyer and real estate agent, I have brought more than 30 new companies to Aurora. In 1992, I founded Streetwise, a successful nonprofit that works for the homeless in Chicago. Over 13,000 people have found employment and self-sufficiency through this organization, and it continues to help people today. These are examples of the courageous leadership, good management skills, unwavering commitment and strong passion that I will bring to the office of mayor.
If you won this position, what accomplishment would your tenure lead to success?
I will see my tenure as Mayor of Aurora as a success as the city adopts and maintains a balanced budget, reduces its debt, is able to cut property taxes and fees, and provide excellent service to our residents.
Why should voters trust you?
Voters can be sure that they trust me because I have demonstrated my trustworthiness through my work as my constituent representative on Aurora City Council. I have further demonstrated my character through my dedication to the community through volunteering with Hesed House, the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry, Aurora Green Fest, Simply Destinee, the Ministry of Rita, and the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce.
How do you feel about financial policy, government spending and the use of taxpayers’ money in the office you want?
I have a strong track record on the city council as a fiscal watchman. I am often the only no to increases in spending that do not provide citizens with any significant benefit. As mayor, I will continue this record until spending is under control and the budget is balanced.
Is there any reason you wouldn’t serve your full term other than health or family?
I will be wholeheartedly indebted to the citizens of Aurora as their mayor. I do not take this obligation lightly and I would not give up this responsibility.
The best advice I have ever been given was:
The best advice I’ve received is, “Trust your instincts and believe in yourself.” I believe that because of my experience on the city council and through listening to residents and working in the community, I know better than my opponents what Aurors want and need, and as a result, I will do better for Aurora.
What else would you like to tell the voters about yourself and your positions?
I want voters to know how much I am committed to Aurora and its people.
Because of the changes I have seen in our city in recent years, I have been called to action. I have a strong desire to contribute to a future where Aurora is “the city” in Illinois where people want to live, work, and enjoy all that our city has to offer.