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: I served as the Riverside Township Clerk from March 2004 to May 2009. I am currently filling the unexpired term of Joan Sargent as N.R. Village Trustee, since she resigned in Feburary of 2013. I have voted in every regular election since college, and take my civic duty very seriously.
Previous community experience: I was a former member and Chairman – N.R. Citizen’s Enhanced-911 committee. 18-year member, 17 years as chairman, N.R. Civil Service Commission; Current President of the North Riverside Library Foundation; past volunteer for Little League, American Cancer Society, and numerous community organizations.
Education: B.A.- University of illinois, Chicago. J.D.- The John Marshall Law School, Chicago
North Riverside has failed to consistently fund its police and fire pension obligations in recent years. How can that trend be reversed? Are there funds being used elsewhere that can be used for pensions?
The trend of under-funded pensions is not unique to North Riverside, but our village board recently committed to developing a long range fiscal plan to create surplus for potenital crises, as well as strategies for funding the pension obligation. Every expenditure is subject to close scrutiny in this process, as are possible revenue sources. This kind of planning can help our eligibility for grants that would free up money for this and other needs. The new businesses coming into town present the potential of serious new revenue for the village.
What changes, if any, would you recommend in the makeup of the village’s administration/departments. Why or why not?
I have worked in management for many years, and believe that a manager needs certain freedom to build a team to conduct business efficiently. A board should review and approve the structure of the organization and the process for filling the positions, but not participate in day to day operations or hiring.
Should North Riverside continue its freeze on local property taxes? Why or why not?
Eventually, this may need to change, but the cap would have limited potential revenue. It made no sense to increase the tax levy this year, not knowing how the new water meters would impact the residents. I think it is foolhardy to promise no increases ever, but not now. New revenue will be coming at 26th and Harlem Ave.
Are there spending cuts or increases you would recommend. Are any areas off limits for spending cuts?
All departments have been sharpening their pencils and waiting to fill attrition related vacancies. I don’t think there are any areas off limits, except for contractual or statutory requirements. Expiring contracts should be bid out, but the process should be clean and without suspicion. Some people like to scare staff and citizens with threats of cuts, but I see that as electioneering and manipulation.
What is the most important issue facing the village in the next four years? What should be done about it?
We need to leverage the momentum of the Costco and keep the new business coming into town. If we can continue to run this village through revenue sources that don’t directly and exclusively hit the residents, so much the better. I truly feel the economy and its gradual almost imperceptible recovery will continue to challenge us. We need to actively pursue new businesses moving to town.
Should elected officials be eligible for the village’s health insurance program? Why or why not?
I don’t personally participate in the program, but I don’t know that it should be prohibited. My late husband was the elected Supervisor of Riverside Township from 1997 until his death in 2004. We had other sources for health insurance from my employer, but had that not been the case, I would hope there would be the opportunity through the township.
The office had limited hours, but at what hours is an elected official NOT on duty? After Gary’s death, I served 5 years as town Clerk, and much of my work was done remotely, and electionically, but the general public would only have seen me at meetings. People talk government matters wherever we go, and meetings are not the only work hours. If it is costly to the village, then we should consider a larger proportion being paid by the official, if allowed by the insurer.
What other issues do you feel will be important for the next village board to address? How should they be addressed?
Communication with the residents should be improved. When people don’t hear what is going on from the source, rumors spread, and discontent follows. Business development is needed to continue to provide the excellent services our residents have come to expect. I would like to see recreation and safe socials for the teens in town. Our building and zoning ordinances need a thorough review, as they are outdated, and inadequate for current needs.