The 2017 election campaign in the village of Brookfield officially opened last week with the announcement by Mark Rogers, who made an unsuccessful first bid to be elected a Brookfield village trustee as part of a slate in 2015, that he will going it alone in a bid for one of three trustee seats up for election in April 2017.
“I’m running as an independent in the upcoming election,” said the 55-year-old Rogers, who previously served on the Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 Board of Education, including two years as its president.
In the 2015 consolidated election, Rogers finished fourth in a nine-person, three-slate race for three trustee spots. He fell 264 votes short of third place, which went to David LeClere of the PEP Party, which was swept back onto the board, dominated by PEP since 2005.
Rogers was the top vote-getter among his slate mates, Daniel Gribben and John Marino, who rounded out the Citizens Action Party slate, backed by Bill Russ, the former Brookfield village trustee who is listed as the chairman of the CAP political committee by the Illinois State Board of Elections.
The association with Russ, who was the last non-PEP village president, hurt him with voters, Rogers said, and was something PEP used as ammunition against him.
“It was one of the things that PEP put in their literature, that [CAP] was Bill Russ reincarnated,” Rogers said. “But I was writing the platform, along with Dan and John. Now I’m going it alone.
“I’ve always said that political parties are kind of a trap because people tend to vote along ideological lines. This gives me a chance to be independent.”
Rogers said his campaign will revolve around what he sees as the village board’s failure to adequately address economic development, to save residents money by instituting new processes for things like vehicle sticker renewals and trash pickup, and to communicate effectively with the public.
“PEP has been doing economic development for the last 11 years and it’s just not happening,” said Rogers, noting that he wasn’t impressed with development on Ogden Avenue, which includes Advance Auto Parts and, in particular, Sherwin Williams. Rogers said the village should have waited until the entire parcel bounded by DuBois, Eberly, Ogden and the BNSF Railroad tracks could be assembled and developed as a single unit.
“They should have packaged that whole corner,” said Rogers, who is a regional manager and certified financial planner for Scarborough Alliance Group, which specializes in retirement planning for labor union members.
Rogers said he would have voted against the Brookfield Public Library’s request for an additional tax levy, which its board of trustees has approved annually for a number of years and which the village board must also approve because it acts as the library’s corporate authority, even though the two are governed by separate boards.
The library board has been able to save about $4 million, which it can put toward the construction of a new building. Rogers questioned the need for an additional tax levy when the library already has a large surplus.
“It just smells wrong,” Rogers said. “Either they’re levying too much or they’re not spending enough on programs.”
He also called the library’s successful request to state legislators to raise the village of Brookfield’s tax ceiling in order to accommodate a $10.3 million bond issue, which voters will decide in November, an “end around” that was also approved by the village board. Rogers said, however, he probably would have voted in favor of that measure as well.
He promotes offering different options for trash collection, such as every-other-week pickup and an option for a small waste container at a cheaper price. He also said the village could update its vehicle sticker program, offering two-year stickers and making the process easier to navigate.
Communication between village hall and the public is still lacking, he added, referring to a recent outcry by some homeowners, who received blight notices, about the way some staffers are treating them.
Rogers also said he believes the police department could do a better job keeping the public informed about public safety concerns, pointing to Riverside — whose department regularly issues press releases and emergency notices and has an active Twitter feed — as a model.
“We seem to be pretty tight-lipped,” Rogers said. “They should be letting residents know what’s going on in the neighborhood.”
Rogers criticized the lack of debate and exchange of ideas at the village board table. Measures, even important ones, are often passed with little in the way of public discussion among members of the village board.
“You need an independent thinker who’s not afraid to go against the grain for the good of the residents,” Rogers said.