Endorsements: Silkaitis, Bongard, Lencioni, Hoscheit and Malay for St. Charles City Council
All five wards in the city of St. Charles are up for election, with City Council Wards 3, 4 and 5 getting newcomers. The city is also getting a new mayor and city administrator.
They'll need name tags in the Pride of the Fox.
And prideful it is after endorsement interviews and hearing the 12 aldermanic candidates talk about their city and their desire to get involved and help makes things better.
Among the issues: Completing the First Street project; ensuring the Pheasant Run property continues its smooth transition; and an earnest commitment not to overlook the Charlestowne Mall, which has basically languished for a decade.
In the team picture: The fiscal year starts May 1 with an overall "COVID deficit" approaching $3.2 million. Here is how our endorsements shake out:
Ward 1: Silkaitis
Incumbent Ronald Silkaitis is challenged by Richard Balla Jr., a vice president of accounting for a golf company. Silkaitis has a strong edge in the race, 20 years as an alderman notwithstanding. He would like to address the empty storefronts downtown, finish First Street and direct more funds toward the repair and upkeep of city streets. The retired automotive technician favors eventually converting the city's fleet vehicles to all electric, saying long-term costs would be less than conventional vehicles. Balla was nonspecific in many of his answers. Silkaitis is endorsed.
Ward 2: Bongard
Art Lemke, who began his second stint on the council in 2013, has a worthy opponent in Ryan Bongard, a member of the St. Charles Zoning Board of Appeals. A resident for 12 years, he wants to improve engagement between the city and its people and wants the council to address the emptiness of Charlestowne Mall. "For more than a decade the mall has been bleeding," he says. Lemke has been a diligent alderman for 20 years, but it is time for the forward thinking Bongard possesses. His desire to bolster the East Side is one of his good ideas. Another is to "avoid the fear of change and recognize the appeal growth and development present." Bongard is endorsed.
Ward 3: Lencioni
City Clerk Charles Amenta and Blue Goose Market owner Paul Lencioni both have backgrounds in business and management. Either would be a solid addition to the city council.
Amenta served on the liquor commission from 2013 to 2017 before becoming city clerk and is an advocate for more single-family home developments on the city's far western border to help reduce tax burdens for all.
Amenta filed an objection to Lencioni's candidacy based on Lencioni holding a liquor license. It was later ruled invalid by the city's election board. City ordinance prohibits residents with a liquor license from being an elected official.
Lencioni was assistant chairman of the city's plan commission, has measured responses to questions and admits he doesn't have all the answers. What he does have is determination to improve the city's voter turnout so more people have a say in direction going forward.
Lencioni understands the downtown -- where many on the council want to see improvement -- and seems to have done well representing the "little guy" business owner.
He is hoping the council would change the ordinance and we would support that so he could be seated. Lencioni is endorsed.
Ward 4: Hoscheit
Attorney John Hoscheit, consultant Laurel Moad and technology specialist Bryan Wirball are all worthy candidates, but Hoscheit is the best.
He was elected to the Kane County Board in 1996 and was president of the forest preserve district from 2002 to 2014. He earned the city's Charlemagne Award in 2016, given to the person with distinguished service to the community. Before his 24-year county board career he was on the St. Charles Park District board from 1985 to 1991 and an alderman from 1991 to 1995.
His credentials are unmatched by any candidate in any ward. Hoscheit is endorsed.
Ward 5: Malay
Kim Malay has the edge over county board member Steve Weber and Richard Artz, who works for the county's circuit clerk's office.
Malay, an optical department manager, promises communication and transparency and seems to have the best feel for what moves the needle for residents, thanks, in part, to her work in the Near West Neighborhood Association.
A historic preservation coordinator for the city's planning department for 14 years, she is a member of the St. Charles Historic Preservation Commission. Her background of involvement runs deep.
Malay is endorsed.