McHENRY – The League of Women Voters of McHenry County held a candidates’ forum Thursday for the two contested City Council races in McHenry.
The forum was at Parkland School, 1802 N. Ringwood Road, with more than 250 McHenry residents in attendance.
First to speak were the two candidates running for McHenry mayor; local businessman Wayne Jett and former Mayor Steven Cuda. The winner will succeed outgoing Mayor Susan Low, who is not seeking re-election.
Issues discussed included revitalizing downtown McHenry, property taxes and the city’s reserve fund.
“My plan for the reserve fund is to give some of that money back to the residents of McHenry,” Cuda said.
“With a state with no budget … I think it’s risky to give up our actual reserve fund without having a plan in place,” Jett said.
In other issues, both candidates said they were in agreement with the city switching its recycling service from Waste Management to Prairieland Disposal to save money. They also both agreed that the city doesn’t need any more video gambling businesses at this time.
The candidates were later asked if they plan to add any new committees to McHenry, or if they plan to eliminate any existing staff positions or committees.
“I would not add any additional departments or department heads to the city as this time,” Cuda said. “It just doesn’t go hand-in-hand with lowering taxes. I’m not aware of any committee or department that should be disbanded. … I would not be in favor of any additional cutbacks at this time.”
“I would not want to add any more committees at this time,” Jett said. “But one thing I would consider down the road is revitalization, a committee that could help guide us in the right area for revitalizing the downtown area and more businesses to bring to McHenry.”
1st Ward alderman race
After Jett and Cuda spoke, 1st Ward alderman candidates incumbent Victor Santi and challenger Michael Coveny took the stage.
One issue they brought forth was downtown McHenry’s parking concerns, as the future redevelopment of the indoor movie theater has some residents worried there won’t be enough parking available.
“When the new development takes place on Green Street, there’s definitely going to be a parking issue,” Coveny said.
“Certainly that parking has got to be resolved, if you’re going to bring all these people to a new restaurant and movie theater. … It’s an issue. There clearly is a need,” Coveny said.
Santi said the parking problems are going to be there for a while, but they’re going to have to make adjustments.
“We have to look at certain possible areas that we may have to purchase and make some kind of agreement with the developer and with companies that are interested in helping out with that problem. Resolving it by possibly taking down a building or two somewhere in the area,” Santi said.
“It’s a situation that is inconvenient for a lot of the customers of these retail establishments. And we really need to take a hard look of where we can develop a site or two,” Santi said.
The league already has held forums for the Crystal Lake City Council race and the McHenry School District 15 and McHenry Community High School District 156 candidates. The next scheduled forum will be for the two open seats on the McHenry County College Board of Trustees at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Luecht Conference Center at MCC.