Bachelor's Degree, Princeton University
Juris Doctor, Stanford Law School
Married, Victoria H. Stein
See recent video below of Jotham Stein talking about the issues.
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
I am a business lawyer living with my wife and 11 year old son near Davis School. I have spoken many times before the City Council to fight property tax increases and advocate for reasonable development. I have coached kids soccer and baseball teams and also play adult soccer. My law firm sponsors Tri Cities Soccer, St. Charles Chamber of Commerce events and Scarecrow Fest. My top priority is to recruit businesses to our City, and my professional experience makes me the right person to do this. For more than 20 years, I have advised businesses of all sizes and those who manage them and I recently wrote a book on business and employment negotiation. I want to bring the full weight of my experience to benefit St. Charles. I am proud to have invested in downtown St. Charles by moving my business to a historic building and renovating it. I recently won the Charlemagne Award for Community Development in recognition of the renovation. As Mayor, when I recruit companies to St. Charles, the businesses will see my commitment to our community and that I have done exactly what I am asking them to do – invest here.
What are your top three priorities if elected?
My top priority as Mayor will be to bring businesses to St. Charles. We have a fantastic community, but throughout our City, we have lost businesses and the jobs and tax revenue they represent. From Charlestown Mall in the East to Downtown to the old St. Charles Mall in the West, many of our storefronts, office complexes, and manufacturing facilities are empty. The more businesses we attract to St. Charles, the more jobs we will create, and since businesses pay taxes, the lower the taxes we residents will pay. After recruiting businesses, I have a set of co-equal priorities to ensure St. Charles is a vibrant City. My other priorities are to lower property taxes, to make sure we continue to have excellent City services, to promote reasonable development and to ensure St. Charles is the most ethical municipal government in Illinois. Strong ethics and a great business environment go hand-in-hand. Because it is a conflict of interest for the Mayor to do any personal business with those doing business with the City, on my first day in office, I will propose the following ordinance: “The Mayor shall do no business with anybody who does business with the City.”
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
I support lowering the City of St. Charles tax levy, not freezing it or raising it. In these tough economic times, “freezing the tax levy” means raising the property tax rate so property owners pay more of the value of their homes in taxes, while at the same time, the values of houses decline. I have repeatedly opposed raising our property taxes during these difficult economic times, and I vigorously opposed the City Council’s decision this past December to raise our property tax rate yet again, by 5.2%. Next year, St. Charles residents will pay an average of $42 more in taxes for every $100,000 of assessed value in their homes. If the City and all the other taxing agencies keep raising our tax rates, all of us will be so heavily burdened by property taxes that it will be difficult for some to pay the taxes and the value of our homes may go down even more because fewer people will want to buy homes with such high property tax rates. The solution is not to raise property taxes, but instead to recruit businesses to our City. Businesses bring in tax revenue that residents do not have to pay.
What one decision by the city council do you most disagree with and why?
I disagreed with the City Council’s recent decision to approve the Lexington Homes development for at least two reasons. First, the City did a poor job negotiating with a sophisticated business (the developer); consequently, the City negotiated a bad deal. The result is that St. Charles residents must live with a project that is needlessly dense and a residential TIF that will ultimately increase all our taxes. I am for reasonable development. As a business lawyer, I have negotiated transactions of all sizes, from less than a hundred thousand dollars to more than one hundred million dollars, and I have written a book on business and employment negotiation. As Mayor, I will ensure that the City negotiates the best deals with anyone who negotiates with the City. Second, the City spent much too much time pushing the residential development, and not enough time recruiting businesses, and their tax dollars and jobs, to our City. A vibrant business environment means increased property values. If property values were higher, the Lexington developer would have cleaned-up his property and built without a TIF because he would make money doing so. As Mayor, I will focus on actively recruiting businesses to St. Charles.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the city council in the past year?
The biggest accomplishment of the City Council this past year was to continue to provide the excellent City Services that help make St. Charles the #1 City for Families in America (as ranked by Family Circle Magazine). The excellent City Services this year included the return of Spring Clean-up which I supported. What St. Charles needs now is a Mayor who will focus on recruiting businesses to our City so that our City will have a vibrant economic and business environment – and the jobs and business tax revenue this represents – to compliment its #1 family ranking.
Why should voters elect you to office?
Voters should elect me because I do what I say I am going to do, I do so in the most ethical way, I lead by example, I am deeply committed to our community, and I will listen to residents’ ideas for making St. Charles a better place. As Mayor, I will recruit businesses to St Charles, lower property taxes, provide excellent City services, promote reasonable development and make our City a beacon for ethics in municipal government. I will work hard to make St. Charles a community that is friendly to both families and businesses. I enjoy listening to residents. And I’m easy to find - There’s a big sign with my name on it in front of my law office downtown on Third Street. I encourage anyone who has questions or comments about my candidacy or about how to make St. Charles a better place to stop by any time. I’m always ready to listen to the concerns of the citizens of St. Charles.
Other Local Races
John Guddendorf Jr.
L. Michael Konen