Bachelor's Degree, Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago
Architect, Prairie Forge Group
Married, Laura E. Vasilion
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
As an architect, I know what it takes to create exciting, attractive and economically viable projects. I am creative and have a vision for how to achieve a healthy, vibrant downtown Batavia. Having my own architectural practice for 22 years, I know the challenges of running a successful business. I know how to work cooperatively with owners, developers, contractors, consultants, community groups and code officials alike. I have served on Batavia’s Historic Preservation Commission since its inception in 2003, serving as its chairman for five years. I chose to serve on this Commission because I believe it is important to preserve Batavia’s rich architectural history and also respect the rights of individual property owners. My goal has been to create win-win scenarios. We created and wrote all the guidelines, which are crafted to preserve our historic buildings, while also recognizing advancements in energy efficiency. We also administer the city’s façade grant program, annually allocating up to $50,000 in grant money to various applicants who wish to improve their buildings and our downtown.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
CREATING A VIBRANT, HEALTHY DOWNTOWN Batavia’s downtown is beautiful, with many amenities to attract restaurants, stores, and businesses. Yet, few come here because of our difficult approval process: it took seven years for McDonald’s to obtain permission to replace their existing downtown restaurant. Walgreens is nearly two years into an effort to replace their downtown location. Both have been good neighbors, contributing significantly to our downtown’s economic health. SUPPORTING THE FINE ARTS COMMUNITY Batavia is home to a growing fine arts community. Water Street Studio has quickly grown in popularity, becoming an attraction that draws visitors from throughout the Midwest. However, the area around the studio lacks adequate parking, safe sidewalks, and sufficient lighting. TRANSPARENCY IN GOVERNMENT The city of Batavia has committed ratepayers to a 30-year, $246 million obligation in a downstate coal mine, power plant and landfill. This represents the largest single obligation in the city’s history. Yet, most citizens know little of this agreement, nor anything about the terms, many of which are detrimental to the city. The city has not done enough to make this information public, to educate the citizens, and engage in a public discourse.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
Most of us live on a budget and have been challenged to make ends meet during the last four or five years. Many have lost their jobs or been forced to take salary cuts during this period. We have had to make difficult decisions to balance our personal budgets. Likewise, so should our city officials. Freezing the levy would accomplish the following: • It would help those on fixed incomes • It would give the city less to spend, forcing them to budget like the rest of us • It would encourage the city to review and assess which programs are essential and which can be curbed I would support the freezing of our annual tax levy as long as we can continue to provide and maintain the quality of the basic services that our citizens require. Programs such as the annual spring trash pick-up and autumn leaf pickup, our outstanding response during snow storms and top-notch police and fire emergency response record, etc. are all contingent upon monies that the City collects on our tax levies. If I was convinced that this freeze would not reduce or eliminate these important programs I would wholeheartedly support such a cost-saving measure.
What one decision by the city council do you most disagree with and why?
I disagree with the City Council’s decision to burden ratepayers with a $246 million obligation in Prairie State Energy Campus, coal mine, power plant & landfill. • There has been little transparency in the decisions made concerning this 30-year obligation. Information about the project has generally only been obtainable through Freedom of Information requests. • We deserve to see proper financial statements. PSEC, a $5 billion project, has yet to produce an audited financial statement compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. • We signed an agreement with no guaranteed amount of power and no maximum price. We gambled and lost and are now paying a premium for coal power. • We purchased too much base load power. We have been unable to sell our excess. • Our electrical costs are now higher, not lower than surrounding communities. • This power agreement is generating a loss, not a profit. By the city’s own estimates, we may not see a profit until 2024 at the earliest. Changes in legislation, technology or implementation of a CO2 tax could easily skew this into a worse scenario. • I believe that committing to coal as our sole energy source for the next 30 years is an unwise environmental decision. • Last and most important is that the city does not have a proactive plan to manage or solve these problems. The public has not been served well. We can do better.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the city council in the past year?
The City of Batavia understands the importance of providing “the basics” and excels at the delivery of these services: • Our electrical crews maintain and restore electrical power faster than any surrounding community: When last summer’s severe thunderstorm and winds damaged many homes and downed numerous power poles, Batavia’s crews restored power to most areas very efficiently. • Our plows and removal crews clear the streets very quickly after snowfalls. • Our trash and brush removal process is smooth, and the dates are clearly advertised in a variety of publications.
Why should voters elect you to office?
• I understand our past: Having served on Batavia’s Historic Preservation Commission for nearly 10 years, I know our city and its downtown, its rich heritage and the beautiful natural amenities of its river and trails. • I have a creative vision for our future: As an architect, I know how to create a healthy, stable, economically vibrant downtown. • I am fiscally responsible: I am an experienced businessman, having owned my own architectural practice for 22 years, half of which was spent in downtown Batavia. • I believe in investing in our community: I created a mentoring program to help high school students decide if a career in architecture is right for them. Over the last ten years dozens of students have completed my program and experienced first-hand the responsibilities and opportunities awaiting them in the architectural field. • I believe we can do better: I have a vision of a city that is welcoming to new enterprise and receptive to creative ideas. I imagine a city that embraces its past and looks forward to its future. I am committed to a city that boasts an efficient, transparent government that works to create a better Batavia for all of us.
Other Local Races
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Al Lenkaitis Jr.