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Michael Curtin: City Council Candidate [2011]

28 January 2011 RS 7 Comments

City council candidate Michael Curtin at Rakow Branch Library, Elgin, IL City council candidate Michael Curtin at Rakow Branch Library, Elgin, IL (Photo by The Elginite).

As part of our coverage of the 2011 Elgin City Council elections, we presented candidates with a short questionnaire asking about their backgrounds and their ideas for Elgin. This is the first in a series of questionnaire responses that The Elginite will be publishing over the coming weeks. - Craig Mason

First off, can you tell us a bit about your background, both personally and professionally?

I was born and raised on Elgin’s eastside. I lived in St. Cloud, MN and Buffalo, NY between 2002-2008. My family then returned to Elgin and we reside in Elgin’s westside. I am the Vice President of the South West Area Neighbors and my wife is the secretary. I am also a voting member of the Elgin Community Network.

My training and work experience is in biology–specifically research biology. Though I am currently staying at home to raise my three year old son, I intend to pursue an advanced degree in either software engineering or computational biology.

What spurred your decision to run for Elgin City Council?

I decided to run because I want to make Elgin a better place to live. I want to improve the quality of life in Elgin by making our neighborhoods safer and more stable. To me this means bringing individualized solutions to Elgin’s neighborhoods so that we can work to improve local school performance and neighborhood safety.

In your opinion, what are some major issues facing Elgin going forward?

Dealing with increasing government regulation and decreasing funds (particularly boat funds) is going to be a challenge. Improving Elgin’s poverty and unemployment rates is also going to be difficult. Given Elgin’s demographics it is also going to be difficult to provide better consumer options for upper-middle class citizens.

How do you feel about the direction that the Council has taken Elgin in the past and the direction they aim to take it in the future?

Fiscal responsibility appears to be a long standing strength of the council. While many residents may not like the expenditures of certain individual projects, the City as a whole has retained a balanced budget and has continued to increase its reserves. Given Sean Stegall’s background in finance, I think that this trend will continue into the foreseeable future. I am also optimistic regarding Elgin’s future. I think the work that Elgin is putting into sustainability will pay off in the long run.

Would you agree that your views mostly coincide with those of Mayor Schock? If not, how do they differ?

Both Mayor Schock and I have the same goal in mind. We both want to improve Elgin, but we have different strategies for doing so. The Mayor is more concerned than I am about Elgin’s image. I tend to believe that by improving Elgin’s functionality we will, in time, improve Elgin’s image. If we can provide good schools, safe neighborhoods, and an overall high quality of life to current Elgin residents, then future generations of Elginites will choose to remain in Elgin. The path to improvement is going to be patience and persistence. (I have to remind myself of this sometimes.)

Once elected, what do you expect to accomplish during your time on the council?

I would like to encourage the City to directly approach the issue of neighborhood stability. The current model is to use established programs (e.g. ROPE, architectual rehab. grants, parks, etc.) to improve and stabilize our neighborhoods. When the City determines the path to improvement, then neighborhoods must find a way to make these programs work, even if the particular program is not the optimal solution. By customizing solutions to each neighborhood we can create more efficient and effective solutions.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I believe that the council should include individuals with a diverse set of skills. It is important to have individuals with skills in business, law, civil engineering, public safety, education, and science/technology. My greatest strength is my training in science and research. The City hires many consultants to conduct research. However, there is currently nobody on staff or on council to oversee this research to make sure that appropriate data structures are used and these data are properly analyzed. By placing higher standards on city-funded research I can potentially save the city millions of dollars every year.

Why should Elginites vote for you?

I genuinely want to make Elgin a better place to live, and I have the skills to make improvements in some key aspects affecting Elgin’s neighborhoods.

What’s the best way for people to find out more about your campaign or ask you a question?

I have a facebook page entitled “Michael Curtin for Elgin City Council” and an email address: curtinforcouncil@gmail.com. I hope to include a website in the future.

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7 Responses to “Michael Curtin: City Council Candidate [2011]”

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  1. rm says:

    Well, at least Mr. Curtin is willing to talk the talk…

    Expressing concern for “making our neighborhoods safer and more stable” and for improving “local school performance and neighborhood safety” are things that are good to hear.

    Even when we have heard such things from Elgin’s leadership, no one could seriously believe their policies could reasonably be expected to result in sound neighborhoods, good schools and thriving retail environments.

    And it’s good to hear that Elgin’s “demogaphics” and “poverty and unemployment rate” are real impediments to a quality community rather than something to ignore or, even worse, to exploit for economic or political benefit.

    And it sounds like Mr. Curtin is on to Mr. Schock’s image game. A city certainly needs to be sensitive to its image. But it should be an image derived from being known for providing its residents safe and stable neighborhoods, good educational opportunities, and thriving and diverse commercial and cultural environments. Elgin’s leadership has been far too interested in using image and expensive branding tricks to cover up realities - to spend on flashy riverfronts “second to none” while 6,000 Elgin homes are still failing to comply with the Clean Water Act of 1972’s sewer requirements.

  2. RS says:

    Mr. Curtin’s website is up now with his position statements on illegal immigration and other issues affecting Elgin:

    http://www.curtinforcouncil.com/elgin-issues.php

  3. Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:

    Michael,

    I know you were not on the city council in 2004 when Mayor Schock and his informal majority proposed to hire the Futterman Law Firm at a cost of $44,000 to consider suing OUR OWN SCHOOL DISTRICT.

    At that time I thought that was the most stupid idea I ever heard of. The tax payers who pay taxes to Elgin and U46 lose either way the suit goes. So far we have lost 9 million dollars of tax dollars defending this class action suit. We have lost teacher and staff jobs in U46.

    The mayor and all involved should not even had whispered suing. In my opinion they should have taken a proactive role and did their best to calm every one down and explain that filling Futterman’s pockets will not accomplish anything for either side.

    With Futterman’s track record in the google past that was research-able they should have known they were pawns in the hands of Harvard and Yale chess masters.

    I will be asking these questions of all the candidates running for City Councilman or City Councilwoman.

    1. In 2004 when the city was informally proposing to hire Futterman were you for that or against that? Yes or NO please.

    2. In 2004 were you for the parents group suing OUR OWN SCHOOL DISTRICT ? Yes or No please

    Councilman Steffen’s wife (who is lawyer Kerry Kelly) is quoted back then in a Daily Herald article that I will share the link below. She said -

    http://www.isbe.net/news/2004/newsclips/040716.htm#el

    “It’s great if the city is on board, but we’re still here if they’re not on board,” said Elgin resident and U-46 parent Kerry Kelly, who is not a potential litigant but supports the parents’ efforts.

    Three times I tried to get a direct answer out of Anna Moeller and three times I failed. I hope the rest of the candidates don’t side step the questions like she did.

    • mike_c says:

      Clarence, I don’t know how to answer your questions fairly. I would like to think that I would have been against both the proposal of a lawsuit and the lawsuit itself. However, I was living in St. Cloud, MN at the time so I was isolated from the political and social atmosphere surrounding the district’s decision. It is unfortunate to see money designated for education being spent on legal fees.

      I apologize for dodging this question, but any direct response from me would be inappropriate. Since moving back to Elgin, I have regularly attended council meetings so I will be happy to directly answer questions pertaining to issues that I have experienced (rather than just read about).

      Michael

      • Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:

        Mike,

        Thanks for letting me know you were not living in Elgin in 2004. I don’t expect an answer from anyone who was not living here in 2004.

  4. Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:

    Voters of Elgin,

    Ever since 2004, with the city, the parents, and their relationship with the Futterman Law Firm driving up the cost of a lawsuit into the millions of dollars with no end in sight; it has been my goal to see the principal players voted out of office that I contend should not have been talking litigation. I wanted them out of office to send a message to future possible litigation advocates on future issues to think twice before they say something else foolish that would cause some future issues to burn out of control with our tax payer dollars through litigation.

    At the candidates forum 3-2-11 it looked to me like Mayor Schock is aging quite a bit, perhaps because of this issue, perhaps not. It also must be hard for the lawyer wife of Councilman Steffen named Kerry Kelly, to always be reminded of the foolish quote she used to support the parents back in 2004 especially since she is a trained lawyer.

    One last time I will share a Daily Herald news story from 2004 so that people not familiar with this will realize what I am referring to. The article is titled – Elgin Wont Sue U46

    http://www.isbe.net/news/2004/newsclips/040716.htm#el

    So last night I was reflecting on all this. I was also reflecting on how possibly we lost an ex councilman years ago perhaps partly because of the way he left office over another foolish issue he was involved in.

    I was going to be persistent in my writing on this issue clear up to Election Day but I have decided I am not going to write anymore on it. It will be up to the voters to educate themselves on who they want in office after April 5 without my input as to why they should not vote for some who had foolish litigation talk or had a trained lawyer wife with foolish litigation talk.

    I just wish someone or some group could end this class action lawsuit as easily as I am going to stop my blogging or writing on this issue.

    How about it Futterman?

    Common Sense Clarence Hayward

  5. rm says:

    A recent copy of the “Fox Valley Labor News” reports on an Elgin candidates’ forum before the Elgin Trades Council which included Mr. Curtin.

    It reports that “Curtin struggled to answer the prepared questions - even after [ETC Director of Political Affairs] Ruegge explained the concepts - because of his unfamiliarity with the topics.”

    Maybe Mr. Curtin was just unfamiliar with the mindset of the Elgin Trades Council’s leadership who apparently see Elgin’s impoverished “demographics” as an opportunity, not a problem. It’s too bad none of the ETC members in the audience got up off their knees and asked the group’s president and recording secretary why they have been such enthusiastic supporters of politicians who protect the illegal alien labor interests that cut wages, drive unemployment, and destroy the schools and neighborhoods that serve working people.

    Just why are Elgin’s union leaders so protective of cheap and illegal Mexican labor and the politicians who support and protect it?

    That’s an especially good question when labor’s own local publication reports that “Elgin’s unemployment rate is among the highest in Illinois” and Elgin “has the second fastest growing poverty rate (13 percent) behind only Waukegan.” Source: Fox Valley Labor News.

    Honest working men and women in the Fox Valley should stop worrying about Wisconsin’s governor and start worrying about what the leaders of the Elgin Trades Council are doing to their families and their futures.