Geneva’s public infrastructure and ensuring responsible community development are high on the priority lists for both candidates seeking to be a 4th Ward alderman.
Incumbent Gabriel Kaven listed dealing with aging infrastructure and facilities as the most serious issue the community faces, in response to a Daily Herald questionnaire.
For challenger Martha Paschke, it’s maintaining the city’s charm while developing new businesses, affordable and accessible housing and maintaining the city’s infrastructure.
Kaven, 46, was elected in 2019. He works for a security company, and he and his wife own a salon in downtown Geneva.
Paschke, 44, is the coordinator of the collaborative diversion initiative at the Kane County state’s attorney’s office.
In an endorsement interview with the Daily Herald and Shaw Media, Kaven said that he is running again because he has enjoyed the experience -- even though there was the unexpected challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of things we had to change on the fly,” he said.
From that, Kaven said, the city learned it has to be “somewhat flexible” in its actions, such as when it allowed restaurants to serve patrons on tables set up outside on parkways and alleys when indoor dining was banned. “That (flexibility) is how a lot of that storm was weathered,” he said.
Paschke, who ran unsuccessfully for the state House in 2020, said she has “just always been involved,” so pursuing a council seat felt like it “made sense.”
Both agree an important priority should be improving the city’s stormwater drainage system. Paschke said the city needs to be prepared for more intense and voluminous rainfall as the climate changes.
Both cited the potential development of farmland on the southeast corner of the city, at Fabyan Parkway and Kirk Road, into industrial uses as important. Kaven said that adding companies that will use the city’s water, sewer and electricity will help relieve residents of some of the burden of the fixed costs of those utilities, plus increase property taxes paid to the city.
Paschke said Geneva is landlocked without much space for large developments, such as car dealerships like St. Charles has.
“I think that it (the southeast industrial concept) is a really exciting development and a really important development for the city,” she said.
And both agree on a recent dispute the city council faced: whether to give the Geneva History Museum money. Kaven voted against it. Both he and Paschke said they first want the city to have a policy and a process for giving money to nonprofit organizations.
Paschke noted if she is elected, it would be the first time two women represent a ward. Amy Mayer is the other alderman.
The 4th Ward is on the west side of Geneva, south of State Street. Much of it is west of Randall Road.