Lawyer, Hamer, Schuh & Cuda, Attorneys
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
I was born and raised in McHenry having attended St. Patrick’s school and McHenry West Campus. I served on the McHenry High School Board of Education from 1983 to 1993, and from 1987 through 1991 as the Board President. I also served as McHenry’s mayor from 1993 to 2001, and Vice-President of the McHenry County Council of Mayors from 1997 to 2001. I am an experienced attorney representing clients throughout McHenry County and Northern Illinois. From my law practice I have gained first hand knowledge of zoning, land development and annexation issues which face McHenry. As mayor I was instrumental in annexing the west side of the Fox River, the major retail development on North 31, doubling the size of Peterson Park and the preservation of the Peterson farm and homestead. During my tenure, business development alone exceeded $100,000,000.00. I have over 20 years of experience serving local government and 34 years as a practicing attorney. As a result I have a unique understanding of government process, the importance of strong leadership and elected representatives who appreciate the impact they have on the day to day lives of their constituents.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
My first and highest priority will be the retention of our retail businesses and re-development of the west Route 120 business corridor. McHenry cannot afford to lose another major retailer to any of our neighboring communities. Walmart’s move to Johnsburg costs McHenry over $1,000,000.00 per year in lost sales tax revenue. Within my first 90 days in office I will personally meet with every business owner along the north Route 31 and west Route 120 commercial corridors. I will do everything in my power to ensure that our retail base expands rather than contracts. Every sales tax dollar we collect is one less dollar of real estate tax billed to the property owners of McHenry. Secondly, within the first month of my term I will ask the City Council to pass a resolution opposing the location of a METRA station and train yard north of Peterson Park. METRA’s proposal to run commuter trains through Peterson Park is in high gear with engineering scheduled to begin this summer. Running eight or more trains through the center of Peterson Park on a daily basis will destroy McHenry’s greatest park and endanger the safety of everyone who uses this facility.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
I would support freezing McHenry’s tax levy for the short-term on the condition that McHenry collects sufficient revenue to provide adequate police protection and other vital services we rely upon. I will not enact a freeze, politically grand stand and then raise user and license fees to make up for the lost revenue. Housing and property values will stabilize only when McHenry dedicates itself to the approval of development which benefits all of the city and not just landowners out to make a quick buck.
What one decision by the city council do you most disagree with and why?
The city’s decision to pay over 4 million dollars for a fifty year old building and attempt to convert it to a public works garage was a huge and costly mistake. Between the building’s acquisition costs, engineering fees and now a new heating system, McHenry is paying for a decades old structure which was never designed for that use. It is a money pit whose costs will only increase with the age of the building. Near the end of my tenure as mayor, the City commenced the design and development of a comprehensive public works facility to be located just east of city hall. That project was abandoned for the boondoggle behind the Jewel Food Store. The projected cost for a new building, specifically designed for public works, was comparable to the price the city is now paying or an old and decrepit building.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
I am running for election because I do not believe the City Council has had any major accomplishments in the last year or several years before that. It has failed to plan or protect the homes and businesses along Routes 31 and 120 although it has known for years that IDOT intends to convert Route 31 to a 5 lane highway in front of St. Mary’s and Montini Middle school. The number of vacant and for sale buildings along west Route 120 grows on a daily basis. As mayor I will do whatever is necessary to redevelop what was once a vital retail corridor in McHenry. The City Council has failed to address METRA’s plans for Peterson Park. This inaction, if continued will haunt McHenry for many decades. These failures cloud any accomplishments of the City Council.
Why should voters elect you to office?
McHenry needs effective leadership, it cannot continue on its current course. As a former mayor, I provided the leadership which made McHenry one of the most vibrant communities in the county during the late 1990\\\'s. I promise “hands on” leadership. As McHenry’s mayor you will always know my position. I will not hide behind “staff recommendations.” I am a proponent of rigorous dialog amongst City Council members. I will not shirk from controversy. I will meet with any constituent and return every phone call. I will take full responsibility for every decision made by the city. As your mayor all my actions will be based solely upon what is best for the city. Together we can make McHenry a great place to live, work and raise our families.
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