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O'Fallon Candidate Forum: Ward 1 Candidates Discuss Economic Prosperity, Red-Light Cameras

The terms of Rick Lucas, ends in April, leaving one seat open in ward 1. Lucas is running for re-election, facing opponents AC Dienoff and Kevin Wattelet.

O’Fallon City Council Ward 1 Candidates answered questions about implementing new ideas, improving the city economy and red light cameras at the annual candidate forum hosted by the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) on Tuesday evening.

The MYAC is composed of juniors and seniors from local public and private high schools, chosen by their school officials to learn more about local government.

The terms of Rick Lucas, ends in April, leaving one seat open in ward 1. Lucas is running for re-election, facing opponents AC Dienoff and Kevin Wattelet.

At the forum, each O’Fallon candidate gave a three-minute opening statement and closing statement. After that MYAC members questioned candidates, allowing a three-minute response time.

(Read more about Ward 1 Candidates Here) 

Meet the Ward 1 Candidates:

Dienoff is a community property manager, public advocate and also does some legal consulting.

“I attend city council meetings and stand up for issues I feel strongly about,” he said, siting transparency and openness in city government as one of those issues.

He also spoke out against the city council’s recent approval of salary increases at the last meeting.

“I’m asking tonight that the mayor veto that decision by the city council, because it’s not just in these economic times.”

Wattelet graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He has been a program engineer with FlightSafety International for 16 years.

He said his experience with scheduling and budgeting at work would help him be a successful city council member.

Wattelet said his two step-children and wife are fully supportive of his run for city council—a long-time dream of his.

 “I’ve always wanted to be a city councilman, all the way back to high school sitting in student council,” he said. “I mention this because I want you to know I have a huge place in my heart for the City of O’Fallon and city government.”

Lucas has worked as a service technician for Diebold, Incorporated for 33 years.

He’s lived in O’Fallon for 23 years and served on the city council for seven.

Lucas said when he first took office O’Fallon was in somewhat of a situation of turmoil, but in seven years become a manageable city.

“I’ve stood for effective government since I’ve been here and I’m asking tonight for your vote for Ward 1 councilperson,” he added.

New Term, New Ideas in Ward 1

Lucas said he is already working on an initiative to bring together local businesses, the city staff and officials to discuss roadblocks for bringing in new business.

He said this process for approving new businesses coming into O'Fallon needs to be streamlined.

“The thing I don’t want to see is to have a business come forth and tell me they’d love to be in O’Fallon, but because of issues they couldn’t get here,” Lucas said. “We need to make sure we retain the businesses that are currently here and make the city attractive to those looking to relocate here.”

Dienoff said if elected he would address issues with transparency, business and the city’s homeless.

“When things that are traumatic happen in the city like the removal of a city administrator or the city needs to come forward after discussing in closed session,” he said.

Dienoff also suggested holding more town hall meetings in neighborhoods to bring the community together.

He also said he would interact with business owners and find ways to help them attract more residents and hire more employees.

“When businesses like Menards come, offering $750,000 in sales tax to our city, we can’t just turn them away and keep making them jump through hoops,” he added.

Dienoff said another issue he’d like the city council to address, is the homeless men he’s encountered sleeping in the streets of O’Fallon behind dumpsters.

Wattelet said he also hoped to improve the relationships with existing O’Fallon businesses and come up with ways to attract more.

“I believe really strongly in the “Keep it in the O” campaign, and I think it can be expanded upon and help draw businesses to O’Fallon and make it a destination city,” he said.

Inspiring Economic Prosperity in O’Fallon

All three candidates agreed that the process for approving new businesses wanting to set up shop in O'Fallon, needs to be streamlined. 

“I think the key to this is having a more open and welcoming process,” Wattelet said.“I think there’s a perceived perception from businesses that O’Fallon has a long process and I know there’s other cities around here where it can take as little as 30 days.”

Wattelet added there should be some city oversight to the process, but also common sense. 

Lucas said the city is already discussing how to make the process much more efficient.

“It’s not an overnight situation, it’s not something where you’ll get someone in 30 days, but I do have some hope that there is some movement and we’ll see something in the near future," he said. 

Lucas added he would also like to see the city start marketing vacant areas, like the office space on hte south end in high-tech corridor. 

He said he's made several out of town trips to speak with grocery stores about coming to the north side of town. 

“That’s one of my goals, to get enough business growth on that north side, “ Lucas said, adding he'd like to see a unique business district in this area of town. 

Dienoff said economic development is right next to public safety to him. 

"You have to have a safe community, then you have to have the jobs and the tax revenue to pay for the social services to make our city a great city," he said. 

Dienoff added that right now O'Fallon does have a lot of restrictions and said this was the reason Menards decided to withdraw their plans of building in the city. 

Candidates Say No to Red-Light Cameras

Dienoff said he is opposed to the red light cameras because they cannot 100 percent identify the driver.

He added he is in favor for the police department seeking grants to target areas of traffic violations in O’Fallon and start with warnings.

Wattelet, who has served on O’Fallon’s Public Works Commission for four years, said the subject has been debated before.

He said he doesn’t think they work, but tend to cause more accidents.

Lucas agreed. He said he thinks the cameras are a revenue generator and are not a good way to solve traffic problems.

Who has your vote for Ward 1 O'Fallon City Councilman? 

See also:

Check back with O'Fallon Patch this weekend for more from the O'Fallon Candidate Forum. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PMS March 23, 2013 at 04:06 AM
Dienoff
Rich Pope March 23, 2013 at 05:08 PM
No red light cameras. Besides, you can purchase license plate covers that create problems for these cameras but don't block a police officer's view of your plates.
Great Coverage Jordan! For more details and information about the Candidate Forum: Here is the actual Link that The O' Fallon Public Information Director posted for any interested resident who would like to view the "2013 Candidate Forum," please follow the following provided link: mms://69.29.124.18/TRMSVOD/1454-1-CandidateForum13.wmv AC Dienoff City Council Candidate and Public Advocate
Mike Nunnery March 28, 2013 at 09:30 PM
The incumbent in Ward 1, Rick Lucas, sits on Planning & Zoning as the legislative liaison. I am a member of P&Z. These are my thoughts and not those of P&Z. Rick Lucas and I do not always agree on all matters related to the city. We have voted opposite one another on several occassions. I respect Rick for his opinions and I have come to a realization that he definitely means well when it comes to his deliberations and votes at P&Z meetings as well as City Council meetings. Rick has earned another term as City Councilman for Ward 1 - I fully endorse Rick for this position and ask your vote on April 2nd for Rick Lucas.
Point of Order, Mr. Nunnery and his wife reside on the South-Side of City and live in Ward Four (4). Mr. Nunnery nor his Family have NO votes in Ward One (1). Mr. Nunnery you must be advocating for the "Same Old, Same Old" sytem in which we need new blood and fresh ideas to move our City forward. I am the ONLY Candidate that has a solid plan and agenda for the good of the City, "Putting People FIRST!" AC Dienoff Ward one (1) City Council Candidate
John Mulherin March 30, 2013 at 12:49 PM
As I see it, where Mr. Nunnery and his wife live and where they have a vote is not at question. He only put his opinion out there as who he thinks would be a good candidate. He stated that even though they dont see eye to eye on all matters pertaining the city he still thinks Mr. Lucas would make a good candidate. We all have our opinion as to who would be the best candidate for the elected position.
I see that Mr. Mulherin is up to his old tricks again of stirring the pot and mudding the waters for his own personal gain. It is a shame that he can not have harmony and peace. God Bless every one this "Easter Sunday" with goodness, health and the spirit of community. AC Dienoff Ward 1 City Council Canddiate "The Voice of the People!"
kevin wattelet April 01, 2013 at 02:01 PM
I would like to personally thank each and every one of you that has gotten to know me over the past several weeks. I've heard your concerns and criticisms and will take them to city hall. I have attempted to make contact with each and every one of you in some way. I have gotten to know people all thru-out the city that feel it is time for a change in Ward 1. I humbly ask you to let me be the candidate to facilitate that change. I would like to thank all the folks that have helped me out over the past few weeks. There is know way I could have accomplished this amount of work without each and everyone of you. This has been an unbelievable experience and I look forward to being elected your councilman of Ward 1 tomorrow. My name is Kevin Wattelet and I am asking for your vote for The City of O'Fallon Ward 1 City Council, tomorrow April 2.
Jim Frain April 01, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Mr. Mike Nunnery is a great friend of mine and he has every right to support candidates within his ward or outside of his ward. No "point of order" is necessary by anyone in stipulating that you can only support candidates in your ward. I am certain that Mike Nunnery has carefully thought through his support of Rick Lucas. I too have carefully considered Rick Lucas and Kevin Wattelet for my vote and I have chosen to vote for Kevin Wattelet in this election based upon his intensity for this council position, his follow through on everything that he does, his strong background in business, his devotion to his subdivision as a home owners association president, his quality efforts with our Public Works Commission and his vision for our ward and our city. Rick Lucas is a good friend and neighbor of mine, I appreciate his efforts for our city and I thank him for what he has done for our city in the last 7 years. I know that Rick and I will remain friends no matter how this election turns out. Two good candidates...I made my choice for Kevin Wattelet.
Mr. Frain: You oppose me no matter what at any angle and any corner. You always comment to make Jim Frain very happy no matter if others are wrong. You advocate for the “Same Old, Same Old!” Mr. Frain you have NEVER taken the time to get to know me but you have a one tracked mind! I am the ONLY Candidate with a written Plan and Promise and I have shown my love for city and people, always standing up and “Putting People FIRST!” AC Dienoff City Council Candidate "For The People!"
Janet Bettag April 01, 2013 at 07:52 PM
I am still considering the qualifications of the other two candidates, but I can tell you I will NOT vote for Rick Lucas. I emailed both of the Council members representing Ward 1 MONTHS ago about a serious matter in our neighborhood and neither has given me the courtesy of a reply. That's not the kind of representation we need in this ward or in the City.
Ms. or Mrs. Bettag: Can I assist in solving your problem and bringing a resolution for your neighborhood? I have the resources and know the right contacts in City Government to solve and get to the bottom of almost any thing. Feel free to contact me at: ArnieDienoff@Yahoo.Com In Kind Regards, AC Dienoff City Council Candidate

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