Full Name: Daniel Aussem
What office are you seeking? Mayor of Ottawa, Illinois
What is your political party? The municipal election is non-partisan
What is your current age? 66
Occupation and Employer: Executive Director - Illinois Valley Contractors Association - LaSalle, IL
What offices, if any, have you previously held? 2007 - 2011 Ottawa City Commissioner of Accounts and Finance 2011 - 2015 Ottawa City Commissioner of Public Property (Water, Sewer, Parks & Public Buildings)
2015 - 2019 Ottawa City Commissioner of Public Property (Water and Wastewater)
2019 - 2023 Ottawa Mayor
City: Ottawa, Illinois
Campaign Website: www.aussem4mayor.com
Education: Graduated Marquette High School 1974
Ironworkers Local 386 Apprenticeship 1978 - 1981
Community involvement: WCMY Freezin’ for a Reezin’, Ottawa Food Pantry’s “Month of Milk”, Ottawa First Fireworks Committee, Youth Service Bureau Board, Ottawa Plan Commission, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Illinois Valley Labor Management provides tents for several events, provided labor and materials for the Project Inclusive Playground, Built Kris Kringle Huts, Built Raised Garden Beds at Central School, Coordinated establishment of the Community Garden
Marital status/Immediate family: I have been married to my wife Sue (Zaccagnini) for 47 years, we have five children and eight grandchildren
Why are you running for office?
I am a lifelong resident of Ottawa, I am passionate about Ottawa and have been very involved with numerous not for profit groups. I believe that my experience and common-sense approach to problem solving helped me get elected in the past and I look forward to continuing to serve Ottawa’s citizens as Mayor
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
In 2007 I was elected to the Ottawa City Council and served as Finance Commissioner I was re-elected in 2011 and 2015 and served as Commissioner of Public Property overseeing the Parks Department and the water and wastewater departments. I was elected Mayor in 2019. The past 16 years gave me the experience and knowledge of the complex issues of running a city.
Since 2008 I have served as the Executive Director of the Illinois Valley Contractor’s Association. I am responsible for Public Relations, administration and negotiations of ten collective bargaining agreements with various Building Trades. I am also a Management Trustee on four Pension Funds with total assets of $4.3bil, four Health Insurance Funds covering 4800 families and three Apprenticeship & Training Funds. I have extensive experience in the collective bargaining process and Labor Management cooperation.
What is your position on the Illinois weapons ban that took effect in January 2023?
I have no position on it. I am a responsible gun owner and a law-abiding citizen. The 2023 changes will have no impact on me.
I do not see where this question has anything to do with the management of the City of Ottawa
Is crime a problem in your community and, if so, what would you do to curb it?
I believe that crime is a problem everywhere, but the City of Ottawa is fortunate to have a dedicated Police Department with strong leadership. Police Chief Roalson has shown that he has the experience to work with various individuals and groups to meet a compromise on several issues.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
The City of Ottawa followed the guidelines from the State of Illinois and Department of Health throughout the pandemic. We worked hard to assist our local citizens and businesses in obtaining grants and personal protective equipment
What did you learn from the pandemic?
Over 6,863,410 people died worldwide including 1,124,143 in the United States and 475 residents of LaSalle County. It was unprecedented times and the government and communities stepped up to help educate everyone to the risks associated with COVID 19. People were reminded of the importance of washing hands and avoiding close contact with the general public. The supply chain shortages emphasized the importance of having domestic manufacturing of several products.
How would you spur economic development in your community?
We have a number of strategies to attract economic development in the commercial and Industrial sectors. We have established a new Rte 71 TIF and Enterprise Zone along the Rte. 71 and I-80 corridor. We have extended water and wastewater to the area and are planning a new wastewater treatment facility and Fire and Ambulance station to better serve this new addition to the city.
We have also realized that Tourism is a big part of our economy, and we continue to update and expand our Parks and create events that draw visitors to our City.
Would/can/should local governments do anything to help reduce the tax burden on residents?
I believe that we have a responsibility to provide services to the citizens and we are consistently making decisions to keep the costs of those services as low as possible. The citizens expect to have emergency response services, water and sewer, Parks and Playgrounds, sports fields, paved streets and alleys and an attractive downtown. We always strive to provide those services at the lowest cost possible.
Do you support recreational marijuana being sold in your community to help lower residents’ tax burden?
The State Legislature approved the recreational use of marijuana and the medical marijuana facility in Ottawa was granted one of the first licenses to sell recreational. The City has decided to use those funds to invest in a new $6mil municipal swimming pool and purchase a new $1.5mil tower truck for the Fire Departments
What projects or infrastructure would you look to address in your community and how would you do it?
The last four years we have increased funding for repaving streets and alleys and we plan to continue that strategy. We replace water and sewer mains annually and plan to build a new Wastewater treatment facility to handle the anticipated growth North and East of town. We are planning to replace the Southside Fire Station and are in the process of designing a Northside Fire Station. We are in the planning stage of revitalizing the riverfront and have a $3.5mil grant to build aa amphitheater to draw additional tourists.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
I have been elected by the citizens of Ottawa four times to serve in public office. If the voters decide to elect someone else, I will abide by their decision.
What is your position on open, transparent government?
I have been a proponent of open and transparent government my whole life. We have placed all of the documents for meetings on our website and the Plan Commission, Zoning Board and City Council meetings are livestreamed and also available on the website.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
Absolutely!! I have always been a proponent of open government and have encouraged our staff to provide documents as quickly as possible and often times without the need to file a formal request.
Would you sign a nondisclosure agreement with a prospective company that would limit your ability to communicate with your community?
Yes, oftentimes a potential developer requests information to be held confidential in order to avoid disruption at another facility. It is not uncommon to receive these requests and during preliminary discussions we are able to comply with confidentiality. Once a developer has made a decision or an offer to begin discussions about incentives, we would then need to have more open discussions and involve the Plan Commission, Zoning Board, City Council and the citizens.