Bob McQuillan, the most public face of a local tax watchdog group, has announced he intends to run for mayor of Geneva.
McQuillan, 56, will face incumbent Kevin Burns, who is running for his fourth term and is the only other announced candidate for the seat. Candidates can file petitions until Dec. 26 for the April ballot.
McQuillan said that while he thinks Burns has "done a pretty good job," it's time that the city had a change in leadership. Burns had made it clear, McQuillan said, that he wanted to move on when he unsuccessfully ran for Congress and Kane County Board chairman. McQuillan also has sought other elected offices.
"I don't like it when people go unopposed," McQuillan said.
Burns said he did not want to comment other than to say that he looks forward to learning about McQuillan's platform.
McQuillan is a frequent presence at school board and City Council meetings. The focus of McQuillan's group, TaxFACTS, which he co-founded in 2008, has largely been Geneva School District 304, but he said he's ready to change course and focus on the city.
"It's not as large a taxing body (as the school district), but it's a key taxing body, and it's time for us to make sure they are financially responsible," he said.
McQuillan passed on running for an open school board seat, he said, because he thinks that TaxFACTS has successfully turned the community's attention to the school district's finances and that the school board is heading in the right direction.
"I don't think taxpayers are going to be asleep at the wheel anymore," McQuillan said. "I think TaxFACTS has been successful, and it's time for me to say 'I've been successful' but where's the next place for me to do my best."
McQuillan said that the city of Geneva has to do more to strengthen relationships with local business owners and develop a marketing plan to drive traffic downtown.
"I think the key thing we need to do is reinvent the downtown area," McQuillan said.
He described Geneva as a "jewel," but said the city is still operating in a down market and it will be several years until home assessments start to rise again.
"We have time to build a five- and ten-year plan," McQuillan said. "I think there are a lot of things that can change."
He also called for more transparency and pledged that he would host regular office hours to speak with residents if elected.
McQuillan was born and raised in Levittown, Pa. He said he was the first person in his family to graduate college and earned a degree from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. He spent his career in various sales positions in the food industry and then lost his job in 1995 during a downsizing. A new job brought him to Geneva, where his three children graduated from the local school district. He was a real estate agent until the housing downturn and now is a regional sales manager for Dialogue Co., a New Jersey marketing firm.
He has previously sought elected office — a state representative seat and a seat on the District 304 School Board.