Utica voters will see a familiar match-up when they head to the polls on April 9.
Fred Esmond is seeking a fourth term as mayor/village president and faces off against trustee Jim Schrader, whom Esmond defeated in the last mayoral race.
Esmond won his third term in 2009 with a 54-percent majority, beating Schrader and village treasurer Bill Ciccone. Schrader said at the time he was “disappointed” but pledged to mount another challenge.
“Give me four years and I’ll learn from the experience and I’ll do way better the next time,” he said in 2009.
Esmond retains the incumbent’s advantage, but Schrader returns to the polls with a few advantages of his own.
Where in 2009 he was a political novice, Schrader now enters the contest with two years’ experience on the Utica Village Board, having won a seat in a four-way race two years ago. Unlike Esmond’s past two races, this year’s contest is a two-way race; any anti-incumbent votes won’t be split by two challengers.
The profiles appear below according to ballot order:
James Joseph Schrader, a 37-year-old machinist, is a graduate of La Salle-Peru Township High School (1993) who studied a year at Illinois Valley Community College. During his two years on the village board, he has served as liaison for Police and Public Health and Safety.
“I’m the best candidate for the job because as a longtime resident I care about the future of our town,” he said. “My only real interest is leaving a better tomorrow for my and all the other families’ children here in Utica.
“Working with the fine folks on the board the last two years has been a privilege I haven’t taken for granted and am enjoying more the further we go along. I find it to be the highlight of my day getting stopped in the street listening to complaints or ideas from various residents and business owners. I’m the best man for the job because I believe in Utica and all the things that make it the best community in the area.”
He cites three objectives:
* Maintaining fiscal responsibility and limiting spending on non-essential items.
* Fostering “the kind of growth that allows our community to expand, yet keep its small town feel.” He added, “Limiting large faceless corporations and encouraging small businesses to set up shop in our town is the best way I see to do it.”
* Pushing forward with our never-ending infrastructure updates is key to the next 20 years of growth, along with getting our industrial park moving forward and helping our small businesses with their ADA-update concerns.
Frederick C. Esmond, 62, is a graduate of Ottawa Township High School who attended Illinois Valley Community College for two years. He is a small-business owner with 38 years of work field experience in sewer installation.
Politically, he has served three terms as mayor of Utica, was involved in Illinois Valley Area Chamber of Commerce and was president of the La Salle County Mayors Association. Notable events during his tenure are the 2004 tornado and ensuing recovery and the construction and opening of Grand Bear Lodge.
“I have been mayor for 12 years and would like to continue the development and growth of Utica,” he said. “While staying in budget and not increasing taxes, I would like to provide the essential services for the village. I’ve been involved in the Route 178 realignment, floodplain issues, sand mine negotiations, and sewer and water extension.”
He cites three objectives:
* Obtaining and completing grants for water main replacement on Church and Johnson streets
* Using hotel-motel receipts (“pillow tax money”) to pave additional streets and replace more sidewalks
* Complete the Route 178 streetscape project and partially clean the Illinois and Michigan Canal for recreational use.