Republicans vying to serve DuPage County Board’s District 2 met in Lisle Wednesday evening to field audience questions on how they define government’s role, and their ideas on attracting business to the area.
Five of the candidates were present, including Michael Loftus of Lisle, Zachary Wilson of Lombard, Elaine Zannis of Oak Brook, and Pete DiCianni and Rafael Rivadeneira of Elmhurst. Jim Long of Downers Grove, and Charles Mueller and Sean Noonan of Elmhurst were not in attendance.
Early voting is underway for the primary election on March 20. District 2 affects the north and east portions of the village.
The sponsored the event. Candidates echoed their sentiments from a February forum at Elmhurst College on . (Click through to the story to read their extended comments.)
In addition to curbing spending or streatmlining services, a bulk of the candidates spoke to the county’s need to be more business-friendly. DiCianni, Loftus, Rivadeneira, and Zannis are business owners; Wilson is an attorney.
DiCianni, who currently serves as Elmhurst mayor, and Zannis, an Oak Brook trustee, both spoke to their experience recruiting new business and jobs to their respective towns.
DiCianni said one key is to maintain a low commercial property tax base. “You’ve got to bring business, you have to promote jobs. You have to bring businesses that bring in other forms of revenue, like sales tax,” which he said will keep residents’ property taxes down.
Candidates offered an array of suggestions when asked how they planned to promote business “with the state of Illinois working against you.”
Wilson, a Lombard trustee, said while the business environment here is friendly, government should “get out of the way.” He believes businesses are interested in coming to DuPage, but said they may feel intimidated by the sea of permits and inspections.
“All those sorts of things are so cumbersome that the businesses just don’t want to go there. They don’t want to have to deal with people that are making their lives difficult when they’re trying to benefit and better their community.”
Loftus, who said he supported building the county’s business base, recalled his service on the zoning board of appeals.
“One of the things we try to do is apply the law that allows people to come in with special needs and expound on why zoning law needs to be bent, if you will, to proceed with their business. Because there are circumstances that require that from time to time,” he said.
Loftus believes Springfield has created a “toxic” environment in Illinois for business. However, he said SunCoke’s recent choice to was an example of a businesses coming to the area for its amenities, rather than the lowest price tag to do business.
Zannis said it is essential to understand the needs of businesses looking to relocate.
"Retaining, recruiting and keeping employees happy is very important in bringing jobs to the county," she said. "Every aspect of bringing new business is collected, and we sit there and talk to the client, the people looking into the area, and we say, 'What is it that you need? What can we do for you? We want you to be here, how can we accomodate you?' "
Rivadeneira however, focused his message on cutting government spending.
”The idea that DuPage is in some sort of vacuum from the state of Illinois is obviously ludicrous,” Rivenderia said. “What we have in our control is to make our government smaller, make our taxes smaller, so residents have more money for the things they want to spend on or give.”