AURORA, IL — Ahead of the April 6 consolidated municipal elections, Aurora Patch provided questionnaires to all mayoral candidates on the ballot. Three candidates are vying to be elected Aurora’s next mayor on Election Day — incumbent Mayor Richard Irvin, Ald. Judd Lofchie and John Laesch. Aurora Patch is publishing all responses submitted by candidates
AURORA, IL — Ahead of the April 6 consolidated municipal elections, Aurora Patch provided questionnaires to all mayoral candidates on the ballot.
Three candidates are vying to be elected Aurora’s next mayor on Election Day — incumbent Mayor Richard Irvin, Ald. Judd Lofchie and John Laesch.
Aurora Patch is publishing all responses submitted by candidates verbatim.
Richard C. Irvin
Age (as of Election Day): 51
City of Residence: Aurora
Office Sought: Aurora Mayor
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
Yes. My step-brother Michael Pegues is the City of Aurora CIO. He was recruited from the private sector after having worked at Morgan Stanley and Hewlett Packard.
Education: East Aurora High School; B.A. – Robert Morris University; J.D. – Northern Illinois University School of Law
Occupation: Mayor of Aurora — 4 years. A trial attorney for 20 years. I owned a successful law practice and was an Assistant State’s Attorney previous to becoming a defense attorney. I was also Aurora Alderman At-Large for 10 years before becoming Mayor.
Campaign website: www.irvinformayor.com
Previous/Current Elected or Appointed Office: Mayor of Aurora, Aurora Alderman-at-Large
The single most pressing issue facing our (board, district, etc.) is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
Economic Recovery. I talk to the people of Aurora every day, and what they need more than anything are jobs. Too many people are unemployed right now and need jobs immediately. But those that do have jobs understand that the post-Pandemic economy will be different than anyone expected. Education and training will put Aurora a step ahead, now more than ever. Moreover, improving Aurora’s educational institutions to provide all outgoing people a better opportunity for their future. Finally, improving public safety is key to improving Aurora’s image and perception.
Do you support Black Lives Matter and what are your thoughts on the demonstrations held since the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake?
I support Black Lives Matter strongly and passionately. I am supportive and proud of the peaceful demonstration throughout this past summer in response to the murder of George Floyd, Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor and many others. Politics, especially racial politics, are rarely easy but I believe this past summer was a wake-up call to America and we continue you that momentum going to create substantive change.
Do you think the current board has done enough to support racial equality, and if not, what specifically should be done to do so?
Over the Summer of 2020, my administration held listening sessions around the City and launched “C.H.A.N.G.E.S. Reform Initiative” which Phase I is focused on the following key areas of policing in Aurora. While this is just the beginning and much more work will be done, the attention to these initial areas such as Body Cameras, Use of Force & Training is a direct result of listening to and engaging with our community. We also launched a Civilian Review Board with partnership with the City Council. There is still much work to do to address racial injustice in this country and in Aurora but there is still more work to be done to change people’s minds, hearts and policy to make sure no one from Aurora experiences any form of racial inequality.
What are your thoughts on the national and local coronavirus response? Do you favor measures such as limiting operation of non-essential businesses and restricting indoor/outdoor dining? And do you favor a local mask mandate?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a tragedy like no one alive has ever seen. We lost many people in Aurora, each one of them leaving loved ones behind. At times, the government did well, at other times we saw a U.S. government that entirely failed us. Unfortunately this is an ongoing issue and I think it is too soon to pass judgement. But we have learned a lot, and we are better off than we were even just six months ago. Even so, our administration was able to get over 500,000 masks donated and given away. Also in the last two months we have been able to hold 3 Mass Vax vaccine events for thousands of people with more in the works in the coming months. As far as businesses, this has been such a difficult time for local Aurora businesses. I believe that some businesses can open safely and responsibly, which relies on both face masks and social distancing.
What are your thoughts on the state and local coronavirus vaccine distribution, and how do you think local governments should work together to handle vaccine rollout?
The City of Aurora has been able to hold 3 large Mass Vax events with more scheduled soon as well as community vaccination events for our minority communities. Aurora’s distribution is going quite well lately, but we still need far more vaccines to make sure we are vaccinating as many people as possible. As supply ramps up, I think we will see the State and Federal government able to distribute the vaccines faster to local counties and municipalities.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I have been a public servant first as Assistant State’s Attorney, then as Alderman and now as Mayor for a total of 20 years. During my time as Mayor we have been able to create a balanced budget with the City Council, do more economic development than the city had seen in over 40 years, and keep crime at its lowest levels in Aurora’s recent history.
Make no mistake, this is an extremely important election for Aurora. I respect both of my opponents, but I truly believe the risks are too high to change leadership now. Aurora is in competition both regionally and nationally in the new, post pandemic economy. Right now we are actively utilizing CARES Act money to put our neighbors back to work. I am proud of the impact of the STABLE Fund and the CERF fund, but these efforts cannot miss a beat, the stakes are too high.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform
COVID Recovery, Economic Development, Education and Public Safety.
The issues I am focused on are the ones my neighbors are talking about. Far and away the number one issue is recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately for some that means dealing with health issues. For others that means the loss of jobs or the loss of long term career opportunities. This pandemic has been hard on Aurora, but it will also provide us with a great opportunity to push ahead and be a greater, stronger Aurora.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I am proud of my time as Alderman and as Mayor. I believe my record speaks for itself. Especially over the past 2 years with the mass shooting that left 3 workers dead and 6 cops seriously shot, then a crippling pandemic and social unrest. At the same time, I believe my record as an Army Veteran, Assistant State’s Attorney, and small business owner make me the best candidate in this race.
If you win this position, what accomplishment would make your term in office as a success?
Right now, I have three priorities: 1. Get every resident of Aurora a vaccine. 2. Get every resident of Aurora a job. 3. Provide high speed, affordable broadband internet to every resident of Aurora. Of course, no one of those things alone would define success, but together, they’d be a good start.
Why should voters trust you?
The last 4 years I have spent every day fighting for the people of Aurora.
I ask that voters look at my record and evaluate it themselves. I have always spoken clearly and directly. That means that not everyone will like everything. I have spent over 20 years as a public servant, it’s all on record. I have always been direct and honest and I have a record that reflects that.
What are your views on fiscal policy, government spending and the use of taxpayer dollars in the office you are seeking?
It’s my opinion that the Government is necessary for things like fixing city roads, collecting garbage and plowing snow. Still, every single dollar the government spends should be reviewed by my office, the City Council and taxpayers themselves. This is to make sure that we are spending money and using people’s tax dollars responsibly and efficiently. We need to make sure we are not wasting precious tax dollars and we are using the money to continue to improve Aurora.
Is there any reason you would not serve your full term of office, other than those of health or family? No
The best advice ever shared with me was:
My grandfather taught me the important lesson of treating everyone the way you want to be treated. No matter what.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
For those that follow my office, they know that my administration has worked through the last 4 years every day to make Aurora better. My administration has led Aurora through some of it’s hardest times including the Henry Pratt shootings, COVID-19 Pandemic and civil unrest. These are things I could have never imagined our City would face but together we have gotten through it. The economy is bound to change after the pandemic and my administration is the best prepared to handle it. Even during the pandemic we have been able to continue to open businesses and celebrate companies moving to Aurora. We must continue to focus on educating our youth, public safety and technology. With your support this April, I believe we will continue with economic relief and economic development across Aurora. I am asking for your support because I believe I am the only candidate that is ready to lead Aurora to its full potential.