The Elburn Herald on Feb. 13 hosted a Sugar Grove village presidential debate between the incumbent, Sean Michels, and his challenger, village trustee Kevin Geary.
Both participants met at the Herald’s new location, 525 N. Main St., in Elburn, and proceeded to spend the next 40 minutes debating topics such as government transparency, village growth and business, video gambling, the Mallard Point/Rolling Oaks drainage issue, and the possibility of re-entering an intergovernmental agreement with the Kaneland School District.
The Herald hosted the debate as a way to kick off it’s role as co-sponsers in this year’s Sugar Grove Meet the Candidates Night, which will take place on Tuesday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the Sugar Grove Community House, 141 Main St.
The debate between Michels and Geary was video recorded as a way to provide Sugar Grove residents with a fair and quality look at the two village president candidates in action. The entire video will be available on our website, ElburnHerald.com, beginning Friday.
Michels during the debate stated that the village has done a number of things to reinforce open and honest government, including posting Village Board meeting agendas and minutes online, as well as the distribution of a village newsletter and email blasts directed at village residents.
“A number of board members are involved in local activities, such as (Kaneland) Sports Boosters, Chamber of Commerce, the church (and) Lion’s Club,” he said. “Our board gets out and socializes a lot with the residents to get a feel of what’s going on.”
Asked about the element of transparency on the Village Board, Geary stated that the board has a responsibility to explain to the public “why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
“The village is not mine. The village belongs to all the citizens of Sugar Grove. Everything the village does should be done in plain view,” he said. “The law does provide for things—absolute lawsuit conditions allows for the (Village Board) to go into closed sessions; it also allows for employee issues (that) go into closed sessions. I think that this is an area that is used quite a bit … almost, maybe, (in) excess.”
On the topic of video gambling in the village,
Geary said he is neither for not against it.
“In the law that the state crafted, they left the decision up to its citizens as to whether they wanted to allow gambling within the community or not … I am for the people,” he said. “My position has always been (to) let the residents decide what they want (and) how they want to decide this issue.”
Michels said he doesn’t condone video gaming, but thinks it should be allowed to put Sugar Grove village businesses on the same playing field as other businesses in the area.
“It was disclosed today that at (the former) Blackberry Inn, they’re seeing revenue generated about $20,000 a month off of the (video gambling) machines that they have,” he said. “To the restaurant bar, they get about a 35 percent cut, which is about $7,000. Right now, that’s a significant amount of money.”
Michels has served as village president since 1999, the same year Geary first took office as village trustee.