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 2001-2009, 2011-present
- Past and/or current member/liaison to Village of Brookfield Board of Local Improvements, Audit Committee, Infrastructure Committee, Playground and Recreation, Public Safety, Zoning, Conservation, Finance and Administration
Previous community experience:
- Director Brookfield Historical Society 1994-present
- Little League/Babe Ruth Coach/Manager 1997-2012
- Member Brookfield Chamber of Commerce
- Member Hollywood Citizens Association
- Past Member/Director of Mainstreet Brookfield
- Led group that restored F-86 Sabre Jet Korean War Memorial
Education: Bachelors Degree in Business Administration, University of Illinois Chicago, majoring in Finance and Human Resource Management
What can the village realistically do to promote and encourage economic development, and where should those efforts be focused?
Firstly, I believe the village has been putting a structure in place that is very conducive to this through the many upgrades made in the operation of village government, in the millions of dollars spent in infrastructure improvements, and improved processes within our building and planning department. We have to make sure we improve on “customer service” in many areas, but certainly here as it pertains to e/d. We have to make sure our process and rules are fair and consistent. We have to market our village and the advantages it has over other towns. We should look to ways we can partner with the Chamber of Commerce and help them to develop. Our efforts need to be focused on all of our business districts, including the retention of our current businesses.
What are your thoughts on recent park improvements and how should additional improvements be approached and funded in coming years?
Most of the most recent improvements have been able to be accomplished with grant funding, at little direct cost to our residents. By working with State, Federal, and Township representatives we have been able to parlay little village funds into substantial projects. Certainly, we should continue the pursuit of grant funding in this way for major projects, just as we currently are in the process of for Kiwanis Park. At the same time, there are areas adjacent to the renovated areas that need to be upgraded through ongoing maintenance.
How should Brookfield fund and schedule necessary repairs to streets and other infrastructure?
Street improvements for the next 5 years should be funded chiefly through use of MFT dollars. We have one collector route left that is eligible for federal funding. After using MFT funds to match these Federal grants over the past 13 years, we will now be able to use that funding for resurfacing of side streets. Unfortunately, we do not see federal funding for this. Fortunately, resurfacing of streets comes at much less cost than the re-building of streets that we have seen included in the over $25 million in projects completed. Water system improvements will continue to be funded through the buildup of water funds reserves. The upcoming street survey update will provide us with the guidelines as to how to schedule future work.
What changes, if any, would you recommend in the makeup of the village’s administrative organization? Why?
In the short term, I would not anticipate any direct changes. There has been a substantial reduction in staff since 2005. I believe after many years, village management is in good shape in all areas. I would like to see if the position of “community planner” can be handled with current staffing, now that several substantial projects have been completed. Adding on employees has direct long-term budgetary effects (benefits, pension, etc) and should be approached very cautiously.
What is the most important issue facing the village in the next four years? What should be done about it?
Everything revolves around village finances…economic development, infrastructure improvements, staffing, etc. For the past several years, we have seen how the national economy directly effects our village. We have reduced staff and tightened up in all areas. We have a balanced budget, and are making required pension payments (something many other local municipalities have declined to do). We have to continually stay on top of this, and be cautious as the economy grows so as not to grow a government here that cannot be sustained.
Are there any spending cuts or increases you would recommend? Are any areas off limits?
There are always areas that can be tightened up. However, our village has seen cuts in many areas over the past several years, and I would anticipate little overall change under the current budgetary constraints.. Resources (and the related funding) that had been spent in certain areas such as the implementation of the new computer software or upgraded water metering system, can now be focused on economic development. In terms of any area being off limits….as evidenced by the national economic climate over the past 5 years, we never can be certain about what the future holds. Certainly public safety is an area that should be last on a list to face spending cuts.
Should Brookfield seek a property tax referendum to increase operational revenues? Why or why not?
Firstly, a property tax referendum is not needed at this time to fund village operations under the current budget. Secondly, in light of national economic conditions and the direct effect it has had on our residents in many areas, I do not believe it would be prudent to ask for one.
What other issues do you feel will be important for the next village board to address? How should they be addressed?
Communication is an area that needs to be improved upon. We do have a large part of our community that does not communicate regularly though internet, Facebook, texting, etc. We have to make sure they are not left out. It is essential that we take more effort to inform our residents of programs, ordinance changes, etc. We have to improve on the effectiveness of the message we send.