Lockport council winners ready for new terms
By tony graf firstname.lastname@example.org April 10, 2011 7:16PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
LOCKPORT — One incumbent won a second term on the city council in last week’s elections, while the other winners were challengers who worked together on certain issues during the campaign season.
Alderman Pete Colarelli was the incumbent winner, in the city’s 1st Ward.
Meanwhile, Kelly Turner, Justin Fentress and Denise Marynowski won in Wards 2, 3 and 4, respectively. The three candidates ran as independents, and were not a formal slate, but they did work together, and some of their issues overlapped, Fentress said Thursday. The three candidates also received endorsements from the Homer/Lockport Tea Party.
“I’m really excited about it,” Colarelli said of his victory on Tuesday. “It was great to walk the ward and talk to the residents again.”
Colarelli said Lockport has an interesting dichotomy: It has much potential for future development, open space and amenities for residents. Yet at the same time, it is a 19th-century city with some serious infrastructure and water issues.
“I really was unaware of the depth of the deterioration of our infrastructure until I got on that council. And sometimes that’s the way it works: You don’t see the kinds of problems that the city faces until you’re smack dab in the middle of it, and receiving reports from engineers that are showing some of those issues,” he said.
“While it’s exciting to consider all the developments that have approached the city — and will probably approach us in the future as the economy recovers — the stark reality was that there’s a lot of work to be done to preserve the infrastructure to accept that kind of development, and to continue to offer the kinds of things that residents expect.”
During Colarelli’s first term, the city council made tough decisions to address road and infrastructure concerns — as well as water system problems.
He described the water system as a complicated and tough issue: “As most residents know, it included a water-rate increase, which nobody wanted, but which was necessary to keep Lockport safe from IEPA violations, and to increase fire flow in some of our neighborhoods and the capacity of our deteriorating water system,” he said, referring to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and also fire-protection concerns.
On Tuesday night, Turner defeated Lance Thies, a plan and zoning commissioner. Turner was glad that he and his two fellow candidates were victorious.
“The results were pretty good. We were happy with them,” Turner said on Thursday.
Regarding his major campaign issues, Turner referred to a paragraph in his Herald-News candidate profile: “The city council threatened to raise utility taxes if the people didn’t vote in a sales tax increase. I wrote a letter to the editor in opposition to this tactic, and my view remains the same. Lockport should not be held hostage by its own government.”
Now that he is elected, Turner wants to work on a repeal of the water-rate increase.
He also discussed his approach to development: “We think Lockport should not surrender any more commercial land to residential. We’re hurting future revenue generators, and we want to stop that,” he said.
“I was thrilled,” Fentress said of his victory over incumbent Bob Morris. “I know Bob is involved with a lot in Lockport. I did a lot of work. I talked to a lot of people. I was very excited.”
“My leadership experience — from being in the military, running a home inspection business, and community involvement as president of the Lions Club — I think that will help me relate with some of the issues,” Fentress said Thursday.
Fentress said he already has talked with City Administrator Tim Schloneger about sitting down for an early discussion about the upcoming city budget process.
Lockport residents are feeling the stress of a weak economy, and Fentress said he wants to do everything he can to make things easier for those residents.
Residents need relief, and the city must be diligent to find opportunities for taxpayer savings where it can, Fentress said.
Fentress added that he supports the Tea Party and believes in its causes.
“I naturally was delighted, because I’m looking forward to the opportunity to represent the citizens of Lockport, to work for them, and to be an advocate for them in their hardships,” Marynowski said Thursday.
On the campaign trail, Marynowski met many people who were struggling during the current economic conditions.
She already has taken action on one important economic issue. Last fall, Marynowski led the Citizens for Sales Tax Referendum committee. The grass-roots committee supported a sales-tax referendum, which voters approved in November. That sales-tax plan, for infrastructure improvement, served as an alternative to a utility-tax increase.
Marynowski supported the increase in the city sales tax — and not the establishment of a new 5 percent municipal tax on electric and gas utilities and an increase in the telecommunication tax.
Her reasoning was clear: “With the 1 percent sales tax increase, the capital improvement program will receive funds from shoppers coming from all areas. With the utility tax and the telecommunications tax, only the citizens of Lockport would pay into this fund. The burden would be totally ours.”
Thus Marynowski has experienced two electoral victories in the last five months.
“We do need the roads fixed,” she said Thursday. “And I intend to work hard to make sure the money gets spent properly to fix those roads.”
The winners of Tuesday’s elections will take the oath of office at the May 4 city council meeting.
The new council will consist of Trivedi as mayor; Colarelli and Dick Van Dyke in the 1st Ward; Turner and Brian Smith in the 2nd Ward; Fentress and Tom Kelly in the 3rd Ward; and Marynowski and Robert Perretta in the 4th Ward.