CARY – While incumbent Cary Mayor Mark Kownick said he’s succeeded in making the village a destination, challenger Cary Trustee Jim Cosler said he doesn’t think the village has been promoted enough to businesses.
The two candidates will face off in the April 4 consolidated election.
Cosler, who was elected as a write-in trustee candidate in 2015, said that if elected, he would devote more time to promoting the village.
“It’s really important for our economic development because we need to bring in more sales taxes,” Cosler said.
Although the focus on revitalizing Cary’s downtown has been good, Cosler said, more help should be given to businesses outside of the downtown.
Cosler said he’d push for businesses that Cary doesn’t have – including more retail stores – and not settle by accepting any business proposal for properties that have been vacant for a while.
Kownick also suggested bringing in more business to increase the property tax base, and both candidates thought a large retailer or grocery store could be ideal for the Selke property, located on the south side of the intersection of Route 14 and Jandus Cutoff Road.
Kownick, who was appointed as a trustee in 2009 to fill a vacancy and was elected mayor in 2013, said his consistent leadership can help the village continue to move forward.
He also would look at annexation options to increase the village’s tax base, and see through several ongoing projects, including the completion of the Metra train station, downtown streetscape improvements and Sage Products’ expansion.
Through his time in office, Kownick said the village has reduced fees to make it easier for businesses to come to Cary, reinstated a facade improvement grant program and a low-interest loan program. Those are programs businesses outside of the downtown also can take advantage of, he said, but investment in the downtown is key.
“You should always continue to invest in your downtown business core, because when you invest in your downtown, that gives strength in the rest of the economy of our town,” Kownick said.
Cary has seen a handful of controversial projects brought before the board in the past, most recently including the Pedcor affordable living project and the approval of an updated agreement with Meyer Material.
Cosler was the leader of a group opposing Pedcor’s Garden Place Apartments project, an apartment complex at First and Pearl streets that drew hundreds to Village Board meetings.
“I think I’ve been really clear that the processes and procedures used were flawed,” Cosler said. “That’s been my stance all along.”
Cosler said people did not have a voice in the Pedcor approval process, and maintaining transparency and communication with residents is something he’s devoted much of his time to in the past few years, partially through the Cary Connection Facebook page he runs.
When considering projects, Cosler said he always will take resident’s input into consideration. He’s proud of helping start the streaming of village meetings on YouTube, and said that if elected he’d continue the transparency through upgrading meeting streaming and put out regular mayoral reports so residents and staff know what the mayor has been working on.
Kownick has maintained the village has been transparent with the Pedcor approval process from the start. The property is privately owned, he said, and gives working-class people the chance to thrive in an upscale community.
The project also was heavily vetted by village staff, Kownick said, and he visited Pedcor’s properties in Waukegan and Crystal Lake and saw they were well-maintained. Much of the misinformation on the apartments came from what people shared and read online, Kownick said, and he encourages anyone to talk to him directly if they have questions.
“I sat through every single one of those meetings, and I encouraged dialogue, and I listened to them,” Kownick said of the Pedcor process. “But it was the same repetitious dialogue that just was not true. People were afraid of what they didn’t know, and I make my decisions based on facts.”
Cosler, who works as an airline pilot, said he hopes when people go to vote, they’ll remember their input matters, and people need to be brought back into the processes of government.
“If we can do that, if we can keep people informed, there’s going to be so much less contention in our community – and with that gone, we’ll be able to accomplish more things,” Cosler said.
Kownick, who is the president and CEO of Action Building Maintenance Corp. in Cary, said he’s engaged with the community and has the best interests at heart for Cary.
“We need leaders that can see through the trees to enjoy the forest and make sure that things are being taken care of and that the entire village is being represented, and I think I’ve demonstrated that,” Kownick said.
More information on each candidate can be found in their candidate questionnaires on the Northwest Herald’s 2017 Election Central page.
Occupation: Airline pilot
Family: Two teenage daughters
Quote: “It’s really important for our economic development, because we need to bring in more sales taxes.”
Occupation: President and CEO of Action Building Maintenance Corp. in Cary
Family: Wife, Shannon; two sons and a daughter
Quote: “You should always continue to invest in your downtown business core, because when you invest in your downtown, that gives strength in the rest of the economy of our town.”