St. Charles City Council lifts prohibition on public officials holding liquor licenses in the city

Blue Goose Market President and CEO Paul Lencioni will be seated on the St. Charles City Council next month after aldermen Monday night voted 6-4 to lift the city’s prohibition on St. Charles public officials holding liquor licenses in the city.

Voting “yes” were 5th Ward Alderman Maureen Lewis, 1st Ward Alderman Dan Stellato, 3rd Ward Alderman Todd Bancroft, 3rd Ward Alderman Lucy Gruber, 4th Ward Alderman Lora Vitek and 5th Ward Alderman Ed Bessner. Voting “no” were 1st Ward Alderman Ron Silkaitis, 2nd Ward Alderman Rita Anne Payleitner, 2nd Ward Alderman Art Lemke and 4th Ward Alderman David Pietryla.

Following the vote, Lencioni he thought the move was good for the people of St. Charles. Lencioni won by a large margin his race against St. Charles City Clerk Charles Amenta for 3rd Ward Alderman.

According to unofficial results in the April 6 election, Lencioni received 385 votes, or about 58% of the vote, while Amenta received 250 votes, or 37.4% of the vote. City code had previously prohibited St. Charles public officials – including local liquor control commission members, the mayor and aldermen – from obtaining or holding a liquor license in the city. Lencioni holds a liquor license because Blue Goose sells alcohol.

The state’s liquor control act allows an alderman or mayor to obtain a liquor license for a location in the city as long as the the sale of alcohol is incidental to the selling of food. However, they are not able to vote on alcohol related items.

Prior to Monday’s vote, city attorney Nicholas Peppers told aldermen that having won the election, Lencioni could be seated on the City Council – but he would lose his liquor license. Referencing the election results, City Administrator Mark Koenen had recommended the city vote to change the city’s code so public officials could hold liquor licenses in the city.

“I think the citizens have made a decision and I’m going to side with the citizens who have said yes, that Mr. Lencioni should have a liquor license and also be able to be an elected official,” Koenen said.

St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina also supported the move.

“It should be very clear here that Mr. Lencioni never hid the issue from anybody,” Rogina said. “The public knew the issue. He won the election in his ward and those people in his ward said to the community and said to this City Council, ‘We want Mr. Lencioni representing us.’ That’s what they said by this vote. You can’t deny that. You cannot deny that.”

It appeared that aldermen would going to be deadlocked and that Rogina would have to break the tie. But then Lewis changed her vote.

“I think I can see how this is going to turn out, so I’m going to vote yes,” Lewis said.

Earlier in the evening, Lewis had voiced opposition to changing the city’s code at this time.

“I don’t know that this has to be decided tonight,” she said. “I think there’s still time. The new City Council and mayor might have a different position on it and can take up the matter at that point in time.”

In voting against changing the city’s code, Pietryla said he didn’t believe that the results of one ward contest should speak for the entire city. And even though she voted against lifting the prohibition, Payleitner said that “few have as big a heart for St. Charles as Mr. Lencioni and the Blue Goose.”

“I do worry that the whole issue and the ramifications of changing this hasn’t been clear,” she said.

Stellato took note of the fact that Lencioni won the election by a wide margin.

“The voting disparity was large and it was enough to send a message,” he said.

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf covers St. Charles and writes entertainment stories for the Kane County Chronicle.