St. Charles to reconsider law keeping liquor license holders from public office

In the wake of Paul Lencioni’s victory in the race for Ward 3 alderman in St. Charles, the city council next week will reconsider the ordinance preventing residents with liquor licenses from holding public office.

Lencioni, the owner of Blue Goose Market and a liquor license holder, defeated Chuck Amenta in last week’s election by garnering nearly 58 percent of the votes in the ward. However, the law prevents Lencioni from being seated next month.

In an ongoing effort to change the law, Lencioni spoke at Monday’s planning and development meeting to make a plea to the city’s aldermen for a third time.

This time it worked.

“I ran saying the whole time what I was doing, so I’ve been very clear with the public,” he said. “I was very transparent with the people in my ward. We had this conversation on a citywide basis, and I think that the people have spoken.”

Three aldermen -- Todd Bancroft and Lucy Gruber from Ward 3 and Ward 5 Alderman Ed Bessner -- joined retiring Mayor Ray Rogina in voicing support for putting an ordinance change to a vote. City staff will draft a revision for next Monday’s city council meeting that would allow Lencioni to be seated if a majority of aldermen vote yes.

“I feel an obligation on behalf of the ward, because of the election and because of the results, to really take it to the next level,” Bancroft said.

Rogina would cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie. If the aldermen vote against changing the law, the election results would be voided and Ward 4 Alderman Lora Vitek, who will be sworn in as mayor on May 3, would appoint the alderman to fill the seat held by Gruber, who chose not to run.

If the current city council denies the change, it’s possible the new city council, which will include new aldermen in Wards 2, 4 and 5, will consider it. If the new council changed the law, Vitek could appoint Lencioni.

Ward 2 Alderman and Planning and Zoning Chair Rita Payleitner wondered if the issue first needed to go through a committee and if it was possible to include a revised ordinance in next week’s city council agenda.

Based on the ability city staff has shown with past urgent matters, Rogina saw no problem with a vote next week.

“Prior to May 3, the city and its residents should have clarity as to what is this council going to say with respect to alderman-elect Lencioni’s authority to sit in one of those seats or not,” Rogina said. “Based upon the conversations that I have had and the city administrator’s had with legal council, it’s been expressed very clearly that he has a right to the seat subject to the ordinance.”