ELMHURST — As the city’s current longest-serving alderman, mayoral candidate Mark Mulliner said he can offer a “steady hand” in a city that has seen the departure of many of its longtime leaders in recent years.
“Even though we want to look at new ideas and research new ideas, we also want to have the opportunity to keep the historical and traditional views of Elmhurst as a component,” he said.
The 7th Ward alderman is midway through his fourth term and said his first priority, if elected mayor, would be “bringing the city back to its core functions — infrastructure, public safety and economic development.”
Mulliner said he would hold off on any new tax increment financing districts unless the city retires any of its existing four.
Elaborating on the city’s economic development opportunities, Mulliner said he would like to focus attention on the industrial area of the city near Lake Street, York Street and Grand Avenue. He would like to change the zoning in that area to allow structures as tall as six stories.
“If we go six stories, it doesn’t cost the city anything,” he said. “There’s some residential, but it’s very, very limited residential in that area.”
Mulliner said he believes developers are more interested in building six-story buildings, because they allow for more profit, and small cranes can fit inside for manufacturing.
“I think we could position ourselves as industry starts coming back to the U.S. to be a perfect location for that,” he said.
Other ideas related to what Mulliner defined as core functions is the opportunity for intergovernmental cooperation among other entities in Elmhurst.
“What I’ve said to people is that if I become mayor, we’re going to have a minimum … of one meeting a year with all of those boards, in an open meeting,” he said. “That way we can look at overlaps and try to consolidate and do some economies of scale.”
Mulliner said he could see consolidating IT departments, lawn care, and some road and parking lot maintenance.
If elected, Mulliner said he would engage the public more directly during meetings, especially committee meetings, and not simply give each resident three minutes to speak with no reply from aldermen.
“It should be a conversation; it should be a discussion of the issues,” he said.
In regards to the recent Open Meetings Act violation of the City Council, Mulliner said he doesn’t think aldermen have an overall issue with transparency.
“I think it was maybe not everybody fully understanding what the level or the limit was that the attorney general is looking at,” he said. “My request to the city was to ask the attorney general to come in and explain to the city, the parks, the school district and the library … exactly what the boundaries are.”
During the two September meetings, aldermen discussed the possible height of the Addison Avenue structure. In the meetings, Mulliner said he was in favor of the added density six stories would bring.
But now after hearing residents’ support for a shorter building, he said he supports four stories.
“That’s our job, to represent the public,” Mulliner said. “It’s not to represent our own views.”