Matt Harrington (clockwise from top left), Dan Hites, Matthew Orr and Michael Saville. (Matt Harrington/Dan Hites/Matthew Orr/Michael Saville.)
Three challengers are seeking to oust Ald. Michael Saville from his long-time 6th Ward spot on the Aurora City Council.
The election is April 2.
Challengers Matt Harrington, Dan Hites and Matthew Orr are challenging Saville, who has held the 6th Ward seat for 33 years.
Harrington and Hites have made an issue of Saville’s time on the board, saying he has been there too long.
“For 30 years, the 6th Ward has stagnated,” Hites said. “What the 6th Ward needs is a change in management.”
Harrington said the ward and the city “has a real need for energy.”
“We keep looking at the past, hoping this will get better,” Harrington said.
Saville has responded that he has “decades of dedication working for the city and on behalf of the 6th Ward.” He said he has had six new parks constructed in the ward in the past seven years, and said he has voted on “billions of dollars” in economic development.
“I don’t need on-the-job training,” he said.
Orr is the bookend to Saville’s long-time service. At 20 years old, he is the youngest aldermanic candidate.
He has said he brings a perspective to Aurora of a young, blue-collar worker who wants to impress upon other young people in the city that there are opportunities in Aurora.
“This is the place where I grew up, the place I feel at home,” he said.
Harrington, 57, has information online at aurora6thward.blogspot.com/ and www.facebook.com/6WardBacksMatt/ and twitter.com/BACKMATT.
He is chairman and CEO of Ammunition Coding System.
Harrington lists community involvement as worker, Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore; vice president, Illinois Cook County Board Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Harrington has steadfastly railed against any tax increases, and has questioned incentives the city gives out to developers, particularly bridge loans. He likened those loans, often used to fill in financing gaps for a developer, to “payday loans.”
He has promoted a plan to move Hollywood Casino to the Interstate 88 corridor as part of a hotel and convention center, and replacing the current casino building downtown with a shopping and dining complex with a movie theater and kiosks of the retailers at the Outlet Mall. He also said he has reached out to Ikea to move into the former Carson’s Building along Lake Street. He also said he wants to turn the Aurora Airport into a “Chicagoland commuters’ alternative.”
On the issue of the Aurora Public Library Board, Harrington said he supports an elected library board, and also wants “to make sure” the West Side Library Branch stays open where it is.
On public safety, he said he has promoted using electronic monitoring for all released sex offender felons who live in Aurora.
He said the April 2 election is a vital one in the city.
“Aurora is at a real tipping point,” he said. “I hope to bring energy to the 6th Ward and the city of Aurora itself.”
Hites, 61, has information online at danhites.com/about-me/ and https://www.facebook.com/DanHitesforAlderman/.
He works in real estate development. He listed community involvement as local committees, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Hites has described the city budget as having a heavy debt burden and few reserves, blaming employee and administrative costs. He proposes an Investors Sanctuary City which would eliminate excessive fees and regulations on developers and property owners. He also said he would favor better transparency and review of the success or failure of past projects.
He also wants to see an arts and entertainment district for downtown that would create more revenue. He has referred to himself as a “re-animator,” pointing to the work he did on his building along Downer Place at Stolp Avenue. He said it helped create a better atmosphere along the street, and he said he was part of the work that created the conversion of downtown’s one-way streets to two ways, got rid of the downtown parking meters and helped make the renovation of the Downer Place bridge more business friendly.
When it comes to the library, he said he favors an elected library board to bring more accountability to the people by the board.
Hites also promotes neighborhood organizations as “vital to the growth and development of Aurora.” He said if the city supports and invests in programs like a community radio watch, it makes the city safer and brings people together.
“I think I’m the best candidate for Aurora,” he said. “I’ve proven I can get things changed.”
Orr, 20, has information available online at www.facebook.com/MattOrr4the6thward/.
He is a custodian with West Aurora School District and a part-time student at Waubonsee Community College. He listed community involvement as having volunteered on local campaigns.
Orr has described the city’s budget as stable, and said the city needs to develop new revenue sources.
He has said the city needs economic development to build revenue sources, and has proposed specific things such as working to get more solar panels in the city – possibly even on the roof of City Hall downtown – and wants to bring the Northgate Shopping Center sign along Lake Street, which is a city landmark, back to life by fixing it and relighting it.
He also said he would “fully support” an elected library board, and called the new Santori Library a “nice” amenity downtown.
On public safety, Orr has proposed working with local neighborhoods in the 6th Ward to bring back Neighborhood Watch programs.
He said the city is a special place.
“Aurora is a place that anyone can raise a family in,” he said.
Saville, 65, has information available online atwww.facebook.com/mike.saville.37?fref=nf.
Saville works as a property manager. He listed community involvement as Aurora Planning Commissioner; alderman, 6th Ward, since 1985.
Saville said the city needs to be fiscally conservative, always looking for cost savings and efficiencies. He pointed out that Aurora has a AA bond rating, and that as an alderman, he has “voted for 34 years in a row of city of Aurora balanced budgets.”
Saville touted the incentives – tax increment financing districts, tax rebates and historic tax credits – that he has supported and voted on in the past to bring development to town. He also said he supported efforts to streamline the development process. He also has long supported Aurora’s efforts to be at the forefront of high technology and “pattern ourselves after the gigabyte communities.”
On the library, he said he supported the move to make the Fox Valley Park District board elected, rather than appointed, so “of course I would be in favor of an elected board” for the library.
Saville said he believes that keeping neighborhoods stable is a key to keeping them safe. To that end, he favors density reduction, converting multi-family homes back to single-family houses and keeping infrastructure in good repair. He co-sponsored the Crime Free Housing Ordinance in 2008 as well as amendments to that ordinance in 2018.
He touted his experience on the City Council as a reason to be re-elected.
“I like to listen, find out what the needs are, form relationships and get the job done,” he said.