The last eight years have provided ups and downs just about everywhere. There are few, if any, cities or villages in the area who came through the Great Recession unscathed. Remember when every town wanted a Borders bookstore? There are large vacant commercial properties where those once stood.
Foreclosures and crashing property values are a national epidemic. The state of Illinois still struggles to pay for its own operations and the specter of its woefully unfunded pension obligation has municipalities and school district across the state on edge.
Brookfield did not escape unscathed either. Right about the time the economy crashed, Brookfield experienced its own financial crisis — partly through no fault of its own and partly due to its own mistakes. The village board cut the government’s employee roster, trimmed services and got its financial house in order.
At present, the ship appears to have been righted. Now the challenge is getting the village moving.
Much of the groundwork is, indeed, in place. The village is poised technologically to take the next step to make its services more resident- and business-friendly. But Brookfield needs to act and needs a village president who will press the board to debate and make decisions and hold staff accountable for fulfilling those policies.
We believe the best person to do that in the next four years is Michael Towner.
Towner can claim as much credit for the successes of the past eight years as his opponent, Kit Ketchmark. And there is an aggressiveness Towner possesses — some might believe that to be a negative, but we believe Towner has gotten better at channeling that aggressiveness positively.
While we have no doubt that Ketchmark would be a fine village president as well, Brookfield needs a push. Towner, we believe, is the person who can provide that push and motivate the village’s staff to accelerate its economic development efforts, improve responsiveness to residents and continue the sound fiscal policies the village board has instituted in the past couple of years.
It may be a little uncomfortable for a PEP-dominated board to follow the lead of an independent candidate, but we really don’t see too many substantive policy differences between what Towner wants to accomplish and what PEP, which was Towner’s home for a decade, wants to accomplish.
Ketchmark would still have a seat at the table as a trustee and he will continue to be a valuable and rational voice on the village board either way.