Gautam Bhatia: 2023 candidate for Aurora City Council Ward 8
Age on Election Day: 54
Occupation: Technology sales
Previous offices held: None
Q: What is the most serious issue your community will face in the coming years and how should the city council respond to it?
A: Current and future debt based upon public safety, pensions and retire's insurance. City council should respond to it by curtailing excessive spending such as not hiring too much staff. The city authorized the hiring of 112 individuals over a 4-year period. City Council needs to be prudent when giving incentives to developers.
Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?
A: The city is over $1.0B in debt which includes pensions and obligations. Since 2019 the City of Aurora has issued approximately $100M in debt.
Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?
A: Infrastructure, public safety and quality of life (such as parks and museums).
Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?
A: Staff hiring, whether permanent or temporary, should be curtailed. The city authorized the hiring of 112 individuals over a 4 year period. This should be put on pause.
Another area is excessive incentives to developers.
Q: What do you see as the most important infrastructure project the community must address? Why and how should it be paid for? Conversely, during these uncertain economic times, what project(s) can be put on the back burner?
A: The most important infrastructure project -- is the long-term control plan for the sanitary sewer overflow. Combo sewer systems are an issue in the near east and near west side.
Put on hold -- Development of the $50M warehouse. Save that money for infrastructure project.
Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage local government? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions with your city council.
A: As chair of Naperville Township Dems, I have worked citizens to understand their core concerns, prioritize them and then work with elected officials to explain the need for addressing issues short, medium and long term.
My style is collaborative, i.e., allow everyone to express their voice even if they vehemently oppose my own, doing/assigning research and talking to small and medium-sized enterprises. I believe that collective decisions produce the best results. This working style is needed on Aurora city council.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: Unlike my opponent I am willing to stand up to the administration and will ask tough questions. I will not go along with wasteful spending. I will be the only Alderperson with IT experience and over 30 years of it.
I have seen excessive spending in many areas. Specific to IT, contracts are being awarded no-bid to Scientel. None of the current Alderpersons have the experience to ask the right IT-project related questions.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: Sustainability project -- Solar, EV charging and Green infrastructure.