Yorkville Mayoral Candidates Focus on Leadership
Incumbent mayor Valerie Burd and challenger Gary Golinski discussed leadership styles, as well as the REC Center and sewer bond problems, at a candidate forum Monday night.
Incumbent Valerie Burd and challenger Gary Golinski both reiterated their commitment to continuing the legal fight against the landfill but disagreed about spending on the REC Center and the sewer bond debt.
Burd said the Laborers Local 149 union was her biggest campaign contributor, providing $2,500 of the $6,000 or so she collected for this race. Golinski estimated he received about $300 in donations without actively fundraising. He said he provided the rest of the $1,200 to $1,500 he is spending on his campaign himself.
In the forum’s closing remarks, Burd emphasized her experience as mayor, while Golinski encouraged voters to consider who would better handle city finances and position Yorkville for prosperity.
Throughout the forum, Burd repeated that Golinski hadn’t offered his own ideas for handling the sewer debt problems during council discussions in recent months: He voted against placing the 2011 sewer bond payment on the property taxes and placing the sales tax referendum on the ballot.
But Golinski said he thought city leaders needed to explore refinancing the sewer bonds more. The City Council had briefly discussed refinancing several of the bonds on top of adding about $30 in surcharges to each sewer bill, but the city would have incurred about $11 million in additional interest over the life of the refinances bonds, city leaders estimated.
Golinski also advocated marketing undeveloped property to generate sewer tap-on fees and other revenue. Burd replied that she had been doing that, but at least one large parcel could not be sold or developed while it was in foreclosure proceedings.
Golinski said city leaders needed to find a way to make the REC Center self-sustaining, while Burd said she thought the REC Center provided a substantial community service and should not have to be self-sustaining.
When asked about contentious interactions among City Council members, Burd cited lingering effects of the even more contentious 2007 election. She also said more public attention was focused on the mayor than on individual aldermen.
“I think it’s very easy for people to throw spears at the mayor,” Burd said. “I’m kind of hanging out there.”
Golinski said leadership included persuading people to work together and promised to listen, show respect and include the entire City Council in issues if he is elected.
“Sometimes as a leader, you need to know when to bite your tongue, swallow your pride,” Golinski said.
Burd said five of the city’s eight alderman never made personal remarks or attacks on their opponents, but the same could not be said of the remaining three (including Golinski).
“I admit those are things I don’t know how to deal with,” Burd said. “It’s hard.”
She said problems were bound to arise of people wanted to be contentious. Golinski said that good leaders make opponents understand more can be accomplished by working together.
“You have to be able to lead a group of leaders,” Golinski said.