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: Village Trustee, Village of Brookfield, 2009 to present
Previous community experience: 5-year member of the Brookfield Conservation Commission and the Brookfield Beatification Committee – Current Adopt-A-Spot volunteer – participant at Project N.I.C.E., Meet the Creek, RBHS Day of Service
Education: B.A. from Northwestern University in Political Science and Sociology (minor in Business Institutions) – master’s degree (in process) in teaching at National-Louis University
What can the village realistically do to promote and encourage economic development, and where should those efforts be focused?
Economic development in Brookfield is a top priority for me. During most of my time on the board the village has practiced a mostly passive approach. This was the right course for when there was little development happening anywhere and has the added benefit of not costing the village any money. However now that the local economy is showing signs of stability, I would like the village to become more proactive in attracting new business to town.
Currently staff is preparing a strategy of targeted advertisements for developers, letting them know what Brookfield has to offer. This is a step in the right direction. As part of this new approach, I would also like to:
- Put together a detailed plan on how we want our business districts to develop – going beyond the 2020 Master Plan – clearly outlining the village resources that we are willing to commit to economic development
- Constructively seek out businesses rather than waiting for them to come to us
- Send village representatives to events which bring businesses together with municipalities
As the pace of development picks up, in future years I propose we consider the feasibility of:
- Bringing in an economic development specialist whose sole job will be to attract, retain and expand Brookfield businesses, assisting companies with best practices in business management and helping them to navigate all levels of government bureaucracy
- Establishing a development corporation similar to Berwyn or Countryside
What are your thoughts on recent park improvements and how should additional improvements be approached and funded in coming years?
The village has made great strides over the past few years in park improvements, receiving over $3 million in outside funding. Currently we are awaiting word on our most recent OSLAD grant request to the State of Illinois. If successful this would be an unprecedented 3rd Open Space and Land Acquisition award for Brookfield, providing a quarter of a million dollars for improvements to Kiwanis Park. One concern I have though is the piecemeal method in which we have been developing our parks. If re-elected I would like the village to put together a formal capital improvement plan, including budgetary details for all future park improvements.
How should Brookfield fund and schedule necessary repairs to streets and other infrastructure?
The village should continue to seek out grants from other levels of government to pay for street reconstruction and repair. Over the past seven years Brookfield has received over $11 million from federal, state and county grants. Later this year the village will be resurfacing Maple Avenue from 47th street to the BNSF tracks – a section of road much in need of repair – paid for in part by federal dollars. I believe we should now look to begin resurfacing side streets by leveraging our Motor Fuel Tax revenue.
What changes, if any, would you recommend in the makeup of the village’s administrative organization? Why?
The village board has hiring and firing authority over only one administrative position, the village manager. Rick Ginex has done a very good job during his tenure in that position. Rick’s experience as a police officer and chief of police has made him uniquely qualified to manage a village staff of over 100, the majority of whom are public safety officers. During my time on the board he has presented balanced budgets that still maintain high quality services and yet also set aside money in a special reserve fund. Although we have not always agreed on all issues I have always felt that the Rick has the best interest in the village at heart.
What is the most important issue facing the village in the next four years? What should be done about it?
Economic development. See above.
Are there any spending cuts or increases you would recommend? Are any areas off limits?
After some painful cuts the last few budgets have been very tight, yet each year we have managed to produce a small surplus which is put away in a special reserve fund. At this point I believe any significant cuts will jeopardize our current operations and have negative consequences for residents and businesses. If cuts do need to be made, funding for the police and fire departments should receive the highest level of protection. If there are further surplus funds, I would like them allocated first and foremost to economic development.