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Lombard village president candidates discuss business climate

Published: Thursday, March 28, 2013 3:30 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 29, 2013 12:20 p.m. CDT
Keith Giagnorio, from left, Moon Khan and John Novak, all candidates for the office of president on the Lombard Village Board, share a laugh during a presidential candidates forum at Harry Carey's, 70 Yorktown Center in Lombard on March 20. Matthew Piechalak —

LOMBARD — Business owners and local leaders got the opportunity last week to listen to the positions and ideas of the three candidates vying for Lombard village president.

Keith Giagnorio, Moon Khan and John Novak answered questions that focused on the current business climate and plans for Lombard’s future during the Lombard Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s monthly luncheon on March 20.

Giagnorio, a current village trustee and small business owner, offered comments favoring expanded business development in specifically targeted areas. He identified vacancies in industrial parks he’d like to see filled and wants to focus on getting more retail along Roosevelt Road and bring in a warehouse-style store, such as Costco, Sam’s Club or Meijer.

“Local government needs to be proactive,” Giagnorio said. “It needs to be recruiting businesses in, also being able to listen to the local residents and business community to see what the needs and wants are of the residents and other businesses in the area.”

In the frequent hot-topic of downtown Lombard, Giagnorio reminded attendees of the downtown revitalization plan that was approved by the Village Board in the spring of 2011.

Moon Khan, a former York Township trustee, was emphatic about changes being made at the village level to support businesses.

“We need to create a whole new perception at Village Hall,” he said. “I would say we need a complete new thinking from a business owner’s point of view.”

Like Giagnorio, he supported more development along Roosevelt Road, and specifically bringing high-end restaurants to the area. In downtown Lombard, he identified a need for a multi-story parking garage on the DuPage Theatre site that also could include retail space.

Khan was critical of the work the village has done to bring in new business.

“We need to respect those people who have come to the village to invest in the village,” he said. “We’re not being a kind of cheerleader for our village.”

John Novak, a longtime Lombard resident and retired treasurer for DuPage County, said to continue economic growth, the Village Board must repair the image it painted for itself in the months following former Village President Bill Mueller’s death.

“(Fixing that reputation) would do more to develop good commerce and industry than any other single issue we talked about,” he said.

The village has a solid mix of businesses, Novak said, and he’s pleased with the downtown district’s expansion and filling of vacancies. He said he attended a recent event hosted by the Lombard Town Centre and was supportive of similar events in the future to help drive visitors downtown.

“The downtown (tax increment financing district) is starting to do very well,” Novak said. “We need to keep doing what we’re doing.”

The consolidated election to select a village president, village trustees, school and library board trustees and park board commissioners is April 9.

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