Photo: Sugar Grove Village President candidate Kevin Geary held a Town Hall meeting on Jan. 31 at the Sugar Grove Community House, and spent the majority of the event fielding questions and concerns from village residents. Geary will oppose current Village President Sean Michels on the April 9 ballot. Courtesy Photo
by Mary Parrilli
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove village president candidate Kevin Geary hosted a Town Hall meeting on Jan. 31 in order to meet with village citizens and field their questions and concerns.
Geary, a resident of Sugar Grove since 1996, has served on the Sugar Grove Village Board since 1999.
“My goal is to engage people in government. I want people to participate, and to make the government their government,” Geary said. “I believe in an open and honest system.”
Village resident J.R. Mooney spoke first during the forum.
“Where is the town? Sugar Grove lacks understandable ‘townness,’” he asked.
Geary agreed, suggesting various ways to remedy the situation, including the recommendation that people participate in more town events, like the annual Sugar Grove Corn Boil. Geary acknowledged the significance of this problem, adding that it’s “worth it to look into more solutions.”
Business in Sugar Grove was another concern mentioned during the meeting.
“Yorkville seems to bring in a lot of business, Kevin. Should Yorkville be a model for Sugar Grove?” village resident Tom Spry asked.
Geary replied that, although Yorkville is a good model for business, it is essential to recognize that its economy was damaged by the national economic downturn, due to the mass housing buildup in the area, and many businesses were hurt. According to Geary, Sugar Grove is approximately 90 percent residential, which is about 10 percent less than the typical healthy city.
Geary also discussed the idea that updating the road system in Sugar Grove could facilitate commercial growth and make life easier for commuters. He suggested using federal funds to improve the U.S. roads in Sugar Grove, and advocated revisiting the idea of the Prairie Parkway.
“Why isn’t anyone bringing up the obvious lack of ethical practice that has been done in this town involving the current administrator, who gave $9 million to his dad’s business?” Mooney asked. “To me, that was unconscionable. The people better wake up and fix this, and make this honest, open and ethical.”
Village President Sean Michels’ father, Jim, is the president of Engineering Enterprises, Inc. (EEI). The firm has done engineering work for the village of Sugar Grove.
Geary stated that he would initiate, create and implement a system based on processes.
“By creating a strict process, just like a recipe for a chocolate cake, we can ensure sound results,” he said.
Geary said he wants to create a bidding process, and pass an ordinance along with it.
The recurring topic of the night was government transparency and accountability.
“I want more transparency, period. How do we do that, Kevin?” asked Sean Herron, a candidate for Sugar Grove village trustee.
Geary suggested many possible routes, such as putting all village actions on the website, recording video for each session and posting it online, and webcasting board meetings.
Several guests asked what actions it would take to get Geary elected, noting that there were not enough people in the room to make that happen. Geary suggests knocking on doors, educating themselves and their neighbors, and speaking up.
Sugar Grove resident Michelle Scales said she hosted a small get-together for coffee at her house and had Geary attend to speak to the group. She suggested that other people could do this, too.
During the meeting, Geary emphasized that he is riding on a platform of open, honest government, citizen participation, leadership and the maxim of “we the people.”