Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
Pervious political experience: 8 years as Village Trustee, 3 years as commissioner on the Playground and Recreation Board.
Previous community experience: Little League coach and manager. Volunteer with community projects such as Project N.I.C.E, Meet the Creek, Shop with a Cop, Brookfield Citizens Police Academy, member of the Brookfield Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association.
What can the village realistically do to promote and encourage economic development and where should those efforts be focused?
First thing we need to do is get the fundamentals in place to take advantage of the opportunities as they present themselves. We need to get our villages municipal code on our website, most neiboring communities are already doing this. A developer is going to go to the village website first in order to get an insight into how we do business in the village. With that we need to plan what types of development we want where. We need to ask, how can we help our current businesses be better, have better exposure. A possible idea is to have a committee of elected officials, village staff and business owners to start the discussion and get ideas flowing. We need to showcase all the positives that Brookfield has to offer. An example of one way this could be accomplished is through a developer breakfast and site visits. The current board at an economic develop presentation that I missed spent the majority of its time trying to decide how to advertise that we are doing economic development, instead of asking what the next step is, when do we schedule the planning meeting? Listening to the tape there were obvious questions that did not get asked.
What are your thoughts on recent park improvements and how should additional improvements be approached and funded in coming years?
The recent improvements are great, as a Playground and Recreation board commissioner 10-11 years ago I started pushing for a splash-pad in Brookfield. Right now the Playground and Recreation board should be examining the plans and able to offer input and possible changes. As of today they have yet to even be shown the plans for either park. We have to begin using our greatest asset, our residents, for input and ideas as well as expertise in different areas and live experiences. We have become arrogant as a board or maybe just resigned to President Garvey’s “process”. Future improvements need to be worked on now and not just when a grant “pops” up. We could have these plans on the shelf and be updating as time passes. Future funding will be mainly grants and at some point residents may have to choose.
How should Brookfield fund and schedule necessary repairs to streets and other infrastructure?
Village staff needs to develop a worst to best streets list and infrastructure improvement for the village. We need to know a reasonable useful cycle for this overview and a timeline for when we need to start planning for each need. We need to continue to use grants where we can get them, but they are running out with the work we have left. We have done 3 blocks of side streets in the last couple of years and President Garvey selected the streets. There was no discussion with the board other than approval of the work he decided on. Our side streets are terrible, try riding a bike around Brookfield side streets. The selection of which side streets get done should not be one person’s whim. We have revenue enhancements that are in their infancy we need to see how those develop. The situation with the State and how they are going to handle the pension crisis looms large.
What changes, if any, would you recommend in the makeup of the village’s administrative organization? Why?
First I have no immediate desire to change staff but I do see a need in how staff works. The Village President and Village Board needs to first let staff do their job, without micromanaging. The board as a whole needs to understand decisions and thought process and set policy but not individual issues per say. The Village Board needs to set short term amd long term goals for the village manager, he in turn needs to direct his staff as he sees fit to meet these goals. This best practice effort is done in the private sector. I would also require a reporting structure monthly to me and the board by written report from the manager on how he is achieving the goals of the village and how each department is also working to reach those village goals among other things. During the year we would also have regularly scheduled subjects at the committee of the whole on major topics that everyone on the board should discuss, budget, goal review, economic planning, and Infrastructure. It goes a long way in getting things done if people have to report on it at particular times.
What is the most important issue facing the village in the next four years? What should be done about it?
The biggest current issue is how the State is going to fix the budget crisis they are failing to address. Municipal revenues that come through the state have been subject to attack for different reasons for the State to use to fix their mess. Those revenues are critical and sorely needed to run our village if we lose those we have no choice but to ask the residents what they want more service cuts or a referendum, I don’t like it but that is how it will happen. To help the next village president and board will have to advocate our state reps to not take that revenue from the municipalities. Advocacy efforts with state and local representatives will be paramount in the near future to secure as much funding as possible.
Are there any spending cuts or increases you would recommend? Are any areas off limits?
Simple answer no. The board needs to set goals for the village and plan for the future. Village staff then needs to allocate their resources to achieve those goals. How the village manager sets his staff to do that is up to him and he is accountable for the progress his organization makes. Now if we have another 2008 financial hit he will need to adjust the goals, timelines and redistribute resources. In that sense nothing should be off limits also. We may need to look at how we do things and see if inter-governmental agreements or shared services are needed sooner. I do think shared services are the future for municipal government.
Should Brookfield seek a property tax referendum to increase operational revenues? Why or why not?
Right now patience is the answer, we have increase fees and have a revenue stream coming in from video poker. We need to see where that balances out and again what does the state do to our revenues. I am not against letting people decide the direction of the village and how we improve our community. They should have that chance and choice. I do see that question coming sooner or later as does Garvey and Ketchmark but they won’t say so in public, but I have heard them say it myself.
What other issue do you feel will be important for the Village board to address? How should they be addressed?
For the last 5-6 years this village board has not worked as a team with the residents or staff let alone itself. We have to work together to get the most out of everyone and make our community truly better. The Board, village staff, and residents need to work together as a team to get a solid vision for Brookfield and work toward that future.