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Genoa candidates' views differ on mayoral priorities

GENOA – For the first time in 12 years, the city of Genoa will elect a new mayor April 9, and both 4th Ward Aldermen Mark Vicary and Jay Hansen believe they fit the bill.

Many of Genoa’s election candidates, including mayoral hopefuls Vicary and Hansen, gathered for an informal meet and greet with the public hosted by the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday where they discussed the main issues they believe Genoa faces.

Vicary and Hansen have often supported the same issues as members of the City Council. But looking at their potential duties as mayor, some of their priorities differ.

Vicary said Genoa’s two top priorities are police protection and revitalizing the business community.

“It’s going to be a rustic town if we don’t start attracting businesses,” he said.

Vicary cited Genoa’s lack of a grocery store as an example of a business the community needs. He said the closest option for groceries is in DeKalb or Belvidere. He said the closing of Brown’s County Market was a huge blow.

Hansen said Genoa needs to take advantage of the resources it already has before pushing for new projects. He said he is prospecting for responsible development to shore up the tax base.

“Our top priority is getting ourselves prepared for the next economic upturn,” he said.

He noted that community growth was a hot-button issue 12 years ago, and since then, there’s some unfinished business to which the city still needs to attend. He cited subdivision projects as an example.

“I’d like to finish up what we have now,” he said.

Vicary also said police protection is an issue at the top of his list, especially in schools. He said he wants police officers to play a bigger role in school safety, and he wants students to be familiar with the officers in their school.

“I’m a big proponent of making schools part of the police department’s beat,” he said.

Both candidates said they would like to work more with Genoa-Kingston School District 424, especially after the city filed suit against the district over a stormwater detention project in 2012.

The issue, which has since been resolved, caused some friction between the city and the district, but Hansen said he would like to restore a successful working relationship between the two parties.

“I’m committed to reconnecting with the school district and building a strong partnership with them,” he said.

Genoa Mayor Todd Walker said he has faith in both candidates, no matter who is elected as his successor.

“It’ll be quite an interesting race,” he said. “Regardless, the city will be in good hands.”

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