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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Aurora City Council Ward 1

All legislative powers of the Municipality under the Charter, together with all such powers conferred upon municipalities by the Constitution and laws of Ohio, shall be vested in a Council of nine (9) members. Six (6) members shall be elected by the electors of each of the six (6) wards, one (1) from each ward, and three (3) members shall be elected at large by the electors of the Municipality. The terms shall be staggered, shall be for a period of four (4) years.
CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
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    Michael S. Lewis Attorney

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    James L. Vaca, Sr. Retired Meat Cutter

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Biographical Information

How would you balance the need for economic development with community development that ensures a better quality of life?

What is your vision for your community and how would you implement it?

Age 37
Education Salisbury University, B.A. Cleveland-Marshall School of Law, J.D.
Training & Experience Twelve years of practicing law and representing public agencies, non-profit organizations, businesses, and individuals from all walks of life.
Community comes first, but smart economic development is essential to growing Aurora. My focus is on what makes the city a better place to live and creates wealth in the community. Balanced growth includes responsible planning of residential neighborhoods and of businesses that boost our community by allowing Aurorans to spend locally. Looking forward, we must provide services for the families who move to our wonderful city and continue supporting the aging population that stays here. The balance becomes more challenging when discussing industrial development and tax abatements. There needs to be a re-evaluation of Aurora’s current program. Companies can receive 100% property tax abatements for 15 years. The abatements deprive our school district of revenue, cause levies to be raised, and increase taxes on households. The abatements are necessary for growth, but to protect our schools and homes, I believe revenue sharing agreements and other options should be part of the negotiations.
My vision for Aurora is for its residents to enjoy outstanding schools, thriving recreational activities, and economic stability. To achieve this, we must continue building our tax revenue base by expanding our commercial and residential properties at a sustainable rate without placing additional burden on our current residents. A broader tax base provides more money to the schools, which are the heart of our community. A larger tax base also increases the funds available to the city to make improvements. I want to see future efforts concentrated in providing infrastructure improvements throughout the city, including in the Geauga Lake neighborhood, and to the development and beautification of the Geauga Lake property. With smart budgeting and realistic planning, this city could accomplish many goals consistent my with vision and the Master Plan in the next ten years.
Education Aurora High School
Training & Experience Ward One Councilman, 1986 – 1989, 2000 – Present. Safety, Service and Utilities Committee (Chairman) Recreation Advisory Committee (Member) Tree Commission (Member) Volunteer Firefighter/EMT – 1978 – Present. More info at http://www.auroraoh.com/605/Vaca-Biography
As this is a team effort, we would have to rely on both our legislative knowledge and the knowledge of our subject matter experts. With the employment of the city economic development director, we have experienced a large increase of industrial and commercial growth that has enriched the quality of life for all of our citizens. Not all growth is approved because my colleagues and I ensure all rules and regulations are followed to prevent unwanted development that could be detrimental to the city or its citizens. In addition, I believe in continuing the excellent relationship with the Aurora Chamber of Commerce as it brings in revenue which can be used to assist with city functions, repairs, operations, etc. Bringing in new businesses generates new income taxes. With this revenue, we can earmark it to expand programs which benefit the community. Lastly, the city council and administration need to continue to follow the goals and recommendations of the master plan committee.
I feel my community is not limited by wards or borders, but encompasses all the residents from my neighborhood, my ward and our city as a whole. My vision is legislators make laws and regulations to maintain an orderly and functioning city which benefits all residents regardless of address. This would include continuing to scrutinize the budget so we can maintain the Triple A rating which we now experience. In addition, throughout my 20+ years as a legislator, I firmly believe it is critical to make yourself available anytime to your constituents and to take their issues to the administration for closure. Throughout my tenure I have dealt with flooding issues, deteriorating roads, unkempt parks and unlighted streets. With my vision, I was able to implement programs which added more streetlights, repaired some roads and upgraded playground structures. Pre-planning and good insight will insure the residents of Aurora and Ward One a better way of life.

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