by Eric Peterson, Daily Herald
The race to be Schaumburg's first new mayor in nearly a third of a century began in earnest Saturday as the three candidates met in a forum hosted by the Schaumburg Township Republican Organization.
Strategic planning in financial and development issues and its room for improvement in Schaumburg became the key topic among the questions posed to Tom Dailly, Nafees Rahman and Matthew Steward.
While Dailly touted his experience as a 28-year village trustee, Rahman and Steward argued their professional backgrounds and responsibilities have adequately prepared them to lead the village.
Rahman is deputy director of accounting in Secretary of State Jesse White's office and said he previously was CEO of a private company where he was able to raise revenues by 18 percent.
Steward, who's spent his entire life in Schaumburg, said he has gained financial and management experience from his work at the Hinshaw & Culbertson law firm. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Dominican University.
Rahman said his top priority is to eliminate the village's property tax and help reduce them for other taxing bodies that serve Schaumburg. He cited the village's debt at $500 million and criticized plans to add to that through construction of a performing arts center and parking deck near the convention center.
"I think enough is enough," Rahman said.
Steward said he agreed with eliminating the village's tax levy but also wants to do more to fill Schaumburg's empty storefronts. In his career, he already works with businesses that can help play a part in that while he can be a strong advocate for attracting residents and entrepreneurs to Schaumburg.
"Though I lack the political experience, I have the boardroom experience," Steward said. "I'm the quickest study you'll ever meet."
Dailly responded to his opponents' criticism of the state of the village while laying out his own intended improvements.
He questioned whether the village's debt was high as Rahman said, but conceded that it is higher than $300 million. Dailly also said the village represents only 7 percent of property tax bills. He noted Schaumburg's commercial vacancy rate is 4 percent.
Nevertheless, he said his aim is to reduce Schaumburg's property tax levy another 5 percent during his first year in office. It's already been reduced by 13 percent since it was started in 2009, Dailly added.
He said he aims to focus more strongly on vacancies at Town Square at the intersection of Schaumburg and Roselle roads, particularly the former Dominick's store, whose continued vacancy is being caused by apparently unbreakable leases being exercised by Albertsons, the parent company of Jewel-Osco.
"I want to see what kind of legal action we can take to get that done," he said.
The three candidates will meet next in a forum moderated by the League of Women Voters of the Palatine Area at 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at Spring Valley Nature Center, 1111 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg.
Election Day is Tuesday, April 2.