On the steps of his home in the Historic District of Geneva, Mike Bruno, longtime resident and member of Geneva’s Historic Preservation Commission, announced his candidacy Wednesday in front of more than 40 enthusiastic residents, friends and family. Bruno emphasized that his campaign and, if elected, his work on the City Council will be to “promote and protect” Geneva’s history and downtown vitality.
The full speech is set forth below.
“I would like to formally announce my intention to run for the position of alderman for the city’s 1st Ward.
"My roots in Geneva go back to 1903, when my great-grandparents, Paul and Anna Berrettini, moved “out to the country” and settled on North Sixth Street for Paul’s health. I began visiting Geneva in the late '60s when my grandparents, Frank and Ida Bruno, moved back to the place where Ida’s parents had settled generations earlier.
"At the time, as a young boy driving from Streamwood in our stationwagon, Geneva seemed in the middle of nowhere and, at that young age, I had no appreciation for the community that Geneva was, even then, that it drew my ancestors back from points afar. My younger self knew that I could occupy my time at Wheeler Park, or playing on the courthouse cannons, or skipping stones down at Island Park.
"Fast-forward to 1979, when I began a career at Burgess-Norton that would pay my bills for the following 21 years and introduce me to my wife-to-be, Debbie, on top of it. We raised our son, Adam, on Richards Street and then here on Fulton Street. I think as a parent I, more than ever before, came to appreciate just what it meant to live in a real community, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing with my son in those same parks and on those same cannons.
"Geneva is not just a place to park your car at night. Geneva is a rare gem amongst a backdrop of withered small towns that succumbed to urban sprawl. Geneva is no longer in the middle of nowhere, but it is a place to know your neighbors and a place to identify with.
"I became involved with the city some years ago and, most significantly, have been sitting on Geneva’s Historic Preservation Commission for nearly 11 years. In survey after survey, Geneva residents have identified historic preservation and our downtown as central to our identity and our vitality. My time on the Historic Preservation Commission has given me a front-row seat to the management of that history and experience unique amongst the 1st Ward candidates.
"It is a complex and important symbiosis between our downtown merchants, our downtown residents and our historic identity. The careful management of our historic assets create the inviting downtown that draws residents and, importantly, visitors from near and far to enjoy our eclectic and varied merchants and partake at our dining and drinking establishments. It is my intent to promote and protect that identity so that our downtown can be economically, culturally and visually vibrant.
"That economic vitality benefits us all through the tax revenue which, to the extent the the city can affect our slice of the pie, helps keep your taxes lower.
Other matters before the city are varied and range from the mundane to the far-reaching. I cannot say how I would weigh in on issues on the horizon until I have seen the evidence and heard the arguments. But, as an engineer by training and vocation, I can tell you that I will rely on evidence and fiscal pragmatism to see that our city best utilizes our resources and gets the optimal return for monies spent.
"I intend to play the long game, and my thinking will always include the metric of 'How will this affect the city tomorrow and in five, 10, or 20 years down the road.'
"I am very proud of the service I have offered to the city to date, and it will be difficult to relinquish my seat on the Historic Preservation Commission. It is my desire, though, to step up that contribution because what Geneva has deserves to be nurtured. It has been a persistent suggestion by my many good friends that I run for elected office, and now seems the time. And, with your help, I can add my voice and my talents to the 1st Ward and the city.”
Bruno will face off against Zac Ploppert, who formally announced his candidacy during a . Two others have said they intend to run, but have not as yet issued press releases or made public announcements: former alderman Bill Barclay and owner Mike Olesen.
Three-term incumbent 1st Ward Alderman Sam Hill announced July 30 that he would not seek another term.