Business outlook key to LaGrange Park president race
Who they are
Background: Former member of Park and School boards, Zoning Board of Appeals Age:
Family: married to Nancy, 3 children
Years in town: 43 years
Background: Volunteered with Cub Scouts and Habitat for Humanity. Age:
Occupation: General contractor
Family: Married to Cherise, 3 children
Years in town: 29 years, except for naval service and some years in Florida
Updated: April 15, 2013 2:12AM
LAGRANGE PARK — Two longtime residents have a similar vision but different steps to lead the village to a brighter future.
Jay Miller is challenging two-term incumbent James Discipio in the April 9 election for village president.
Miller ran unsuccessfully for trustee in 2009 and has been involved with the Rose Party, which formed in 2011 to challenge candidates endorsed by the LaGrange Park Caucus. Without fielding a full slate, the Rose Party didn’t endorse candidates for the 2013 election.
Discipio said he wants to continue what he started.
“All of the work we’ve done for the past eight years is starting to come to fruition, like the new comprehensive plan, building code and municipal code revisions,” Discipio said. “The Public Works garage is starting to take root, and we plan on breaking ground in the spring.”
Miller said Discipio’s leadership is lacking on commercial development, fiscal management and infrastructure replacement.
“Over the past eight years we’ve seen a steady decline of village infrastructure and the two business districts,” Miller said. “I don’t believe a laissez-faire attitude is the correct route. We need to be more aggressive.”
Discipio defended his record, pointing to the recently released Commercial Revitalization Committee’s report on efforts to retain and recruit businesses.
“I think we have done an awful lot. The Village Market is 90 percent occupied. We’ve worked with the shopping center owners on tearing down the former pancake house,” he said.
Discipio said 31st Street has some new businesses, including a Subway. But Miller said 31st Street looks blighted and some of the buildings haven’t been modernized to attract new tenants. The village should strictly enforce codes and fine building owners, he said.
Both candidates agree commercial revitalization is needed to boost sales tax revenue and offset village operating expenses, already cut to a lean level. Miller said the village should be budgeting for improving aging roads, sewers and water lines and flood relief.
Discipio said a capital project prioritization seminar is being developed to set priorities on road and other improvements.