Full Name: Arthur Lemke
What office are you seeking? St. Charles Alderperson Ward 2
What is your political party? independent
What is your current age? 75
Occupation and Employer: Auditor - Illinois State Toll Highway Authority
What offices, if any, have you previously held? St. Charles City Council 20 years - position previously known as Alderman Ward 2
City: Saint Charles
Campaign Website: No
Education: BS - University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
MBA - Northern Illinois University, DeKalb
Community involvement: St Chales History Museum - member
Fox River Trolley Museum - volunteer
Marital status/Immediate family: Married - one child
Why are you running for office?
I have had a long-term investment in Saint Charles Government. When I learned the position for Ward Two would be due for reelection and the incumbent Rita Payleitner was not going to serve another term, I decided to campaign for another term. I am interested in assuring my neighbors will have a voice in potential development opportunities along and on either side of East Main Street. These include Charlestown Mall and Pheasant Run.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
I have 20 years of experience in City Council. I am a CPA and have been an internal auditor for a state agency during the last 14 years.
What is your position on the Illinois weapons ban that took effect in January 2023?
This law as it is currently written is under review by the courts. It is difficult to determine which portions of the law will be upheld by the courts. Whatever the outcome, if I am elected, I will support the laws of the federal, state and local governments.
Is crime a problem in your community and, if so, what would you do to curb it?
The citizens and the City of St. Charles, like any of its surrounding cities have identified range of issues that are routinely brought to the criminal courts for adjudication. I feel that our police department and the Kane County Court System together have been effective in managing the occasional violations of the law. In my previous City Council position, I was one of the council members who successfully advocated for relocating the Police Station to the West Main Street location in lieu of a smaller site north of Red Gate Road. Police presence near the center of the city can lead to faster response time when a potential crime is identified.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
The Mayor of the City of St. Charles regularly renewed a resolution with City Council support, to allow executive action during the initial outbreak. Additional renewals occurred at regular intervals to support city actions in the event of additional spikes in Covid cases or hospitalization rates. During the pandemic, for example, City Council meetings were held using tools like “Zoom” to reduce person to person contact. Masks were required when necessary to reduce the risk of person-to-person transmission. Currently even medical offices have mask-optional policies. St. Charles has retail locations that continue to provide vaccinations.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
I have realized that there are many work-related and shopping-related activities that can be done without person-to-person interaction. I have also observed that the population in general has increased its use of outdoor eating activities. Specifically, I learned that the First Street Plaza had become a popular destination for outdoor dining during the warmer months. I learned that it was possible for City Council to work with businesses to permit the use of First Street Plaza as long as mild weather continued in the Fall.
How would you spur economic development in your community?
I would continue to encourage retail development in the East Gateway. Main Street Commons for example, has been effective in expanding our retail footprint. There are additional opportunities for retail development on the west side in the vicinity of Randall Road. I supported the plan by McGrath Motors to purchase a portion of the former Pheasant Run property, in the same way that the Volkswagen dealership developed a site on the north side of Main Street. I would encourage the McGrath dealership to consider whether their new site is large enough for an additional dealership or landing a new dealership in their former location.
Would/can/should local governments do anything to help reduce the tax burden on residents?
Our St. Charles government has been effective in maintaining the mix of residential and non-residential property uses, and as a result, commercial and manufacturing uses help absorb the portion of school taxes which would be borne by homeowners. Maintaining the mix of uses helps spread and reduce the residential tax burden. On the other hand, converting non-residential properties to residential uses tends to increase school enrollment and the burden of school taxes which comprise 70-80% of residential tax bills.
Do you support recreational marijuana being sold in your community to help lower residents’ tax burden?
I voted against the ordinance that allowed recreational marijuana in the community. On one hand It might have been a contributor to taxes. On the other hand, there has been a concern that there could be negative impacts on the community in terms of increased enforcement costs (for example). At the time the ordinance was approved, our law enforcement staff testified that there was no test admissible in court which would address marijuana impaired driving, while there one is with alcohol intoxication.
What projects or infrastructure would you look to address in your community and how would you do it?
The city has been active in addressing residential flooding on the east side (Seventh Avenue Creek) and on the west side (State Street Creek). One element in the design of the Police Station has been to provide underground detention of storm water. More can be done to improve flood control in both or these areas. In one case, a new culvert under 7th Avenue can further reduce flooding during rainstorms. The city should continue to investigate whether State or Federal grants would be available to address these priorities. In addition, there is a need to address the percentage of streets that are in poor condition. City Council has recently decided to increase sales tax by one half percent (0.5 %) which will be used entirely for improving street maintenance. City staff members reported that a portion of sales tax is typically paid by residents from other communities who also our roads. I would continue to support this sales tax increment until the percentage of streets in poor condition has been reduced to the level that can be resurfaced in a year or two.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
I am campaigning to determine if the voters want someone with my experience to serve in City Council. If there is a lack of support for my efforts, I feel there are other opportunities I can address in the surrounding suburbs.
What is your position on open, transparent government?
I not only believe in open and transparent government, I have on occasionally filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. If elected, I hope I will not need to make such requests in the future. One problem I have noted in observing City Council has been occasions where our Roberts Rules of Order have not been followed as required. To improve the openness and transparency of our city government, I will seek to assure that any council motion shall not be called for a vote until all members of council have had the opportunity to discuss the motion.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
As indicated in my support for Open Transparent Government, I not only support the Freedom of information Act (FOIA), but I have also filed such requests for information in the past. I would encourage others to do the same when they feel citizens have not been advised of key issues in government.
Would you sign a nondisclosure agreement with a prospective company that would limit your ability to communicate with your community?
I have signed a nondisclosure agreement with my current employer. This is a requirement of my profession as a CPA and Internal Auditor. This is the safest course as any issue I may be asked to investigate may lead to a lawsuit. I can never tell in advance whether or not my work product on any assignment will be covered by Attorney Client Privilege.