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: None
Previous community experience:
- I am currently an appointed member of the Brookfield Beautification Commission (BBC). I have been a member since 2007 and have served as both President and Treasurer as well as BBC liaison to the Aging Well committee. During this time, although I have contributed to many projects, I have most notably lead Project N.I.C.E. (Spring and Fall – formerly Make a Difference Day) and manage the Adopt-a-Spot program.
- District 95 Volunteer (2009-present) in several capacities at Brook Park School (Room Parent, Picture Person, Junior Great Books, Yearbook)
- Brookfield Little League Volunteer
Education: B.A. Loyola University Chicago
What can the village realistically do to promote and encourage economic development, and where should those efforts be focused?
- Provide better access to information and more comprehensive content on the Village website to support existing and new businesses such as:
- General information, forms and support documentation such as the newly updated Code
- Access to local Chamber of Commerce website(s) and information on how the Village works with the Chamber on various events to support the residents and business community
- Access to State of Illinois support services from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity
- Access to federal support services such as the U.S. Small Business Administration who provides information on grants and loans and works with local partners to “counsel, mentor, and train small businesses.”
- Continue to manage the existing TIF districts; identify other commercial areas that could benefit from a TIF district. Actively seek business development/revenue-generating opportunities for the Village-owned properties on Ogden Avenue and adjacent to the Congress Park train station. Help educate the public on the benefits of TIF districts as well as the realistic timeline for the resulting investments in those areas to mature.
- Explore the establishment of a community development commission: responsible for working as an advisory body to Village staff on economic development efforts but also for helping to create a marketable identity package for Brookfield as other towns have done to spur growth.
- Work with Brookfield Chamber of Commerce and other local business organizations to stay abreast of new ideas, issues, needs
- Focus efforts to improve areas of need including the rehabilitation of existing businesses in need (deteriorating structures, empty lots and empty storefronts) and encouraging new businesses to take root in Brookfield.
What are your thoughts on recent park improvements and how should additional improvements be approached and funded in coming years?
- Having managed the Adopt-a-Spot program for several years and having 3 children, I am pretty familiar with our parks. The recent improvements such as those completed in Ehlert Park were welcome updates. I look forward to seeing the next phases of that project come to fruition as Ehlert park is a highly utilized space not just for our residents but for all the visitors who join us for baseball, soccer and other events. I also think that with the economic downturn of recent years people have tended to stay closer to home utilizing our local outdoor spaces more and maintaining those spaces has been and should be a priority. Additionally, having updated recreation and concession facilities, paths to encourage people to get out and exercise and beautiful, natural, maintained landscapes is a good reflection of the Village.
- I would like to see the Village continue to search out and utilize grants to complete these types of projects. I also support public art projects in our parks that can be paid for in large part by grants and donations.
How should Brookfield fund and schedule necessary repairs to streets and other infrastructure?
- Scheduling should be based on a street/infrastructure condition and usage survey to determine level of need to help prioritize projects.
- The schedule and funding of projects should be determined based on the type of project and applicable funds available.
- Funding: grants whenever possible. Designing environmentally friendly infrastructure when possible should open us up to new grant options.
What changes, if any, would you recommend in the makeup of the village’s administrative organization? Why?
- To improve communication within the Village and between the Village staff and residents as well as the business community, I recommend the creation of a Community Liaison staff position.
- PT, eventually FT if possible
- Point of contact for the public –businesses, potential homeowners, visitors, volunteers, organized groups
- People-person, knowledgeable on services provided by Village, locally-sponsored events, volunteer opportunities
- Works with Village staff on maintaining and creating relevant content for the website
- Would fulfill some public relations responsibilities to ensure Village news and information is communicated clearly and effectively
What is the most important issue facing the village in the next four years? What should be done about it?
- While continued, careful, responsible financial management will be key to our growth, the most important issue I believe for much of the public is economic development.
- Support the business community through better access to information
- Promote existing TIF districts
- Develop community development body to promote involvement and market Village
- Better utilize relationship with the Chamber of Commerce
- Improve and rehabilitate deteriorating existing businesses and encourage new businesses to take root
- Make sure standards and guidelines are clear to businesses and applied consistently
- These are just some of the things we can do to address economic development needs within the Village of Brookfield.
Are there any spending cuts or increases you would recommend? Are any areas off limits?
- This is not something I can adequately judge at this time. However, I do have a background in helping organizations determine where they can improve processes to work more effectively in terms of cost and time. If elected, I would do my due diligence to the degree at which my role as trustee would allow to see where we could improve in order to save money.
- I do agree with the current course of rebuilding our reserves.
Should Brookfield seek a property tax referendum to increase operational revenues? Why or why not?
No, not at this time. Our budget is balanced and there is no need for a property tax increase.
What other issues do you feel will be important for the next village board to address? How should they be addressed?
There are many issues I think should be addressed but the following two issues are significant:
- Improved communication: there are so many good things going on in Brookfield and we’ve really maintained and even made progress through some difficult times that have impacted our entire country. This is a resilient community with diverse residents and business owners who care about what’s happening but may not fully know about the changes that have been implemented in recent years. Let’s do a better job to get the word out about the important improvements to our streets and infrastructure, our new financial system, our updated code, park improvements, public safety and beautification efforts and plans for the future. The real impact of these improvements must be clearly communicated so that the next Village Board has the support to move forward with more positive changes.
- Community Development and Civic Involvement: I would like to see the board address how we can increase civic participation in our residents including the youth population. For some events we have an incredible turnout such as Project N.I.C.E. and some Chamber of Commerce sponsored events. However, more involvement on a regular basis at events and meetings will hopefully encourage more ideas and valuable feedback. Promoting civic involvement to the children of our community is also a great way to help ensure future leaders for Brookfield. People who are involved are people who can make a difference.