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Warren our choice for Elgin council
Daily Herald Editorial Board
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Published: 2/18/2009 12:02 AM

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While the big race for three, 4-year seats on the Elgin City Council is barely revving up, the campaign to narrow the field for a single 2-year term during next Tuesday's primary has been hot.

Six candidates are running for the unexpired term of Mike Powers, who resigned last year after a conflict of interest surfaced. The top four vote-getters will move on to the April 7 election, where one will be elected.

After several candidate forums, an exhaustive questionnaire and an editorial board meeting, our top choice is Mike Warren.

Warren, 39, who works for Rieke Office Interiors, has proven leadership experience. He's a take-charge guy, having risen to leadership roles in a variety of community undertakings. He is president-elect of the Elgin Rotary Club, president of the Well Child Center, president of the Sherman Hospital Men's Health Alliance board, and a trustee for the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.

He has a solid grasp of the operations of and challenges facing the business community and would apply that knowledge to helping Elgin navigate the difficult waters ahead during the recession. And he grasps the notion that once the new casino in Des Plaines opens, Elgin's cash cow - the Grand Victoria - will lose a chunk of its customer base and the city will lose a sizable portion of its capital improvement source.

Among his positions: Warren believes that unless financial incentives offered to downtown businesspeople don't result in economic growth or more jobs then they are a detriment. Counter to what some of his opponents say, he feels the trial parking ban in the city should not be broadened or scrapped until both public works and emergency crews weigh in on its effectiveness and residents in the four neighborhoods can assess it. And on illegal immigration, Warren suggests that the city be mindful of not conducting a witch hunt that could disenfranchise an large segment of Elgin's diverse population.

Emi Morales, 27, an Elgin native and attorney, is also worthy of attention. Morales has served on the Elgin Housing Authority Board. She would bring a great deal of enthusiasm to the council.

Al Fernandez, 47, a veteran Hoffman Estates police officer with a master's degree in urban management, would offer a cop's perspective on the council. We agree with many of his positions, but find his answer to the parking issue - implementing a 2-inch snow parking ban across the city to be simplistic and unworkable.

Charlene Sligting is president of the South West Area Neighborhood association and knows well many of the neighborhood-level issues. But her 2005 DUI and her recent handling of it during a candidate forum showed a considerable lack of judgment.

Brenda Rodgers has a good heart but wasn't a strong council member, and voters told her so two years ago when they voted her out of office.

Mike Robins, who has pledged to donate his council salary to charity and who advocates stronger customer service, otherwise lacks concrete ideas.