Aurora mayoral aspirant wants to link city, schools
Establishing a partnership between the city and area school districts would be a primary objective of Alderman at Large Richard Irvin if he becomes the next mayor of Aurora, Irvin said recently.
"What we should be looking at in Aurora is capitalizing on our strengths and our assets, in rebuilding our downtown, focusing on attracting new business and economic development in the city so we can have more revenue streams,” Irvin said on the Chicago-based radio talk show Illinois Rising. "Making sure we keep crime in check. And most importantly, focus on improving our education on both our east side and our west side. People move out of a city based on the success of education, and we want to make sure our school districts are successful, which will, in turn, make our city successful."
Irvin said he’d like to develop an education council to discuss how to share available resources, although the school districts are a separate taxing body.
"To talk about how they can share resources," Irvin said. "How they can do purchasing together, how we can share best practices, so we can lift our education process and our ability to educate our students up to the highest level, and make sure we have an educated, prepared workforce for those jobs we're looking to attract to the city."
He argued that the current Aurora government has not done what needs to be done to build the economy.
"The reality is, the city of Aurora, under the mayor's jurisdiction, we're the only income generating taxing body," Irvin said. "So the more income we generate for the schools, for the city as a whole, will positively affect the schools."
The city and school districts also need to pick up the ball that state government has repeatedly dropped, Irvin said.
"The state has a school funding formula that has been failing our school districts, especially in Aurora, for the last couple of decades," he said. "That school formula hasn't been changed in close to 19 years. We're not expecting that the state is going to step up and do that any time soon. So it's up to local politicians and local school servants to make sure we represent the interests of the schools."
Irvin is up against Richard Guzman, assistant chief of staff to the mayor. The two beat out State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, a Democrat from Aurora, despite the strong support she enjoyed from Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago). The 49-year-old daughter of Texas cotton pickers, Chapa La Via has represented Illinois' 83rd District since 2003, when she became the first person of Hispanic descent to win a seat in the state legislature outside of Cook County.
Chapa La Via's failure to advance beyond the primary in the Aurora mayor's race is a clear sign from voters, Irvin said.
"It clearly shows that they're ready for something different," he said. “They're ready for something new, a new direction. They don't want to continue to put their faith and their trust in the establishment. They want somebody who's actually going to look out for their interests and who's going to represent them, as our public servants are supposed to and not represent the machine, the political machine. That's what my message was. I want to represent Aurora. I was born and raised in Aurora, and all I care about is the citizens of Aurora. I have no interest and no ties to a political machine in which I'd owe support to them versus the people."
For his part, Guzman, a candidate of Filipino descent, is widely viewed to have bipartisan support. He has been endorsed by Chris Lauzen, Kane County Board chairman and former Republican state senator, and Tom Weisner, a three-term Aurora mayor who stepped down last fall for health reasons. He was replaced by Alderman-at-Large Robert O'Connor.
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