Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
Previous political experience: Six years as Riverside Village Trustee
Previous community involvement: Preservation Commission as well as numerous volunteer organizations, including Blythe Park PTA, Riverside Friends of the Fourth, Riverside Springs Ahead, and the petition/referendum drives to retain Riverside’s Parks and Recreation Board
Education: B.A. University of North Carolina Greensboro, M.A. Southern Methodist University, J.D. IIT Chicago Kent College of Law
How should Riverside address ongoing and long-term capital and infrastructure needs and how can those types of expenditures be funded?
I propose the following process:
- Step One: Determine through historical analysis a reasonable Cash Flow Reserve. Once that amount is determined, transfer any excess funds currently held as Cash Flow Reserves to Unassigned Reserves.
- Step Two: Reinstitute policy that any annual surplus of revenues over expenses be allocated to Capital Reserve Fund.
- Step Three: Determine and prioritize capital improvement projects for next ten years.
- Step Four: Based on expected revenues from Step Two, and expected expenditures from Step Three, make appropriate transfer from Unassigned Reserves to Capital Reserve Fund. It is my opinion that Unassigned Reserves should, whenever possible, be used to fund capital improvements instead of day to day operations.
- Step Five: Prepare public referendum to roll over bonds maturing in 2014 for the purpose of meeting ambulance and fire equipment needs.
All of the above assumes that our staff will continue its tradition of aggressively seeking grants and other funding sources for our capital needs. With regard to fire equipment needs, I also want to explore the possibility of equipment sharing with nearby communities.
How must Riverside address its financial future? Are there cuts that can be made? Is anything off limits?
Riverside residents deserve a fair presentation of the cost of providing the desired levels of Village services. “Can kicking,” and putting off existing debts onto future generations, should be avoided. Artificially constructed “balanced budgets” are not in the best interest of current or future residents. I will see to it that residents are provided the information they need to make informed decisions about the future of our Village.
I am not aware of any significant cuts in expenses that can be made with the possible exception of step increases for police and public works. Even here, I would propose that such cuts only apply to future hires. Another source of concern is the impact of State imposed prevailing wages on contracts to provide municipal services. Both step increases and the imposition of unrealistic prevailing wages unduly inflate municipal expenses and are issues that must be addressed on a wider stage and in collaboration with other municipalities.
So far as things being off limits, that is ultimately a decision for our residents. Based on my experience, however, I believe the current services being provided are a baseline — I do not think that residents would, or should, accept significant cuts in existing services.
Riverside voters several years ago voiced approval for the village incorporating green initiatives. What can Riverside do to ensure to remain committed to that philosophy?
We demonstrate our commitment to sustainable policies and practices by implementing them. I will propose that green alternatives be an ongoing part of all future public works projects (e.g., parking lot resurfacing, sidewalks, streetscape improvements) and that Riverside strive to become a regional leader in green technologies. This is a theme that I also believe needs strong emphasis by our advisory commissions.
Economic development has been a longtime concern in Riverside, for its downtown and on Harlem Avenue. What can the village do to foster such development? What shouldn’t it do?
First of all we need to reverse two long-standing impressions about Riverside: 1) that Riverside is not business friendly; and 2) that Riverside is too difficult to access to have a vibrant central business district. To overcome these impressions will require a sustained, long term effort by both Village government and our residents.
An initial step I will take is that instead of having a Trustee liaison with our Chamber of Commerce, I will take over that role as President, hopefully emphasizing our Village’s commitment to the necessity and well being of our business community. I also will oversee a comprehensive review of our Village Code and commission structure with special attention to how we can make Riverside more welcoming to both existing and prospective businesses. And I will personally devote time and effort to seeking out potential new businesses.
Another major component of economic development is the beautification and maintenance of our business districts. There is widespread support for improving the appearance of our central business district. I also believe that our Harlem Avenue businesses need to be given increased attention.
In terms of what we shouldn’t do, I would not support any incentives for new businesses that would increase the tax burden on existing businesses. I believe the best way to entice new businesses to Riverside is to ensure the success and prosperity of our existing businesses.
What other important issues will the next village board need to address? How would you suggest addressing those issues?
As an extension of what has been said above, I think it is time for an extensive revisioning of our existing governmental policies and practices to ensure we are doing things in the best ways possible. That includes the review of our Code and commission structure mentioned above, as well as our budgetary process and how our Village Board meetings are structured and conducted. I also want to increase efforts to make local government as accessible and transparent as possible through improved communications.
On a more basic level, Village government must do all it can to foster civic trust, mutual respect, and a desire for community based solutions to the challenges and choices we face. Elected and appointed officials must set an example for cooperation and good will. It is up to us to emphasize our common duty as citizens and government to be open and honest with one another, to listen to and learn from one another, and to have a positive vision for the future of our Village.