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: No political experience.
Previous community experience:
I have volunteered to be a Coach for North Riverside’s Little League Soccer and Basketball programs. I will continue to aid the Village in its efforts to promote athletic programs that teach our children sportsmanship, teamwork and comradery.
Occupation: Teacher at J. Sterling Morton High School District 201
Soccer and Badminton Coach
B.S. Eastern Illinois University – Education.
M.A. Governors State – Educational Administration.
Loyola Marymount University – 60 Post Graduate Hours.
What is the present state of the village of North Riverside’s financial situation? What is being done and what can be done to ensure its long-term viability and make it more resistant to downturns in sales tax revenues?
The Village is currently $56 Million in debt (and growing).
We need to immediately end the lawsuit against the North Riverside Firefighters Local Union 2714 which has cost us taxpayers hundreds of thousands and also defies decade’s worth of established Illinois Labor Relation Laws.
We need to create new revenue sources by requiring non-residents to purchase permits when utilizing Village properties (people out of town using our parks to take pictures for proms, weddings, quinceaneras, baseball, softball, soccer teams using fields for free).
Construct a Chamber of Commerce where residential and commercial business owners pool their resources to market North Riverside in order to raise revenues.
Initiate coaching and mentoring programs that will institute leadership and teamwork skills in order to help our youths’ character and motivate them for the future.
Create “Senior Help Days” where Residents volunteer to help out our elderly. By cutting grass, shoveling snow, aid in transporting our Senior Residents to hospital visits, help with grocery shopping and generally checking on the well-being of our Senior or Disabled Residents.
What is the realistic long-term solution for the North Riverside Fire Department? Does that future include a hybrid contract paramedic/union firefighter model? Wholly union? Wholly contract? How do you think your preferred model can be accomplished given the experience of the past two years?
A wholly Union Fire Department with a contract that initiates a Silver Spanner Program, a S.A.F.E.R. grant and an incentive package to Employees with 20+ years can show more savings rather than unsuccessful measures to privatize. Moving towards a future possibility in the creation of a Fire Protection District would be the ultimate legal solution to saving the tax payers money as well as providing quality Fire/EMS services. How much have we spent on legal fees for privatization from the summer of 2014 until now?
Who is in charge of the building department right now? How are building department matters being managed right now, and how should they be managed in the future?
As we understand it, our Director of Code Enforcement (Karyn Byrne) is still heading the Department but only works 2-3 days a week. The Fire Marshall (Ken) and the Assistant (Michelle) are picking up the slack.
We have a contracted company performing building and health inspections (two contracted individuals), a part-time plumbing inspector, a Fire Marshall and an Assistant.
We don’t understand why we cannot hire one or two people to perform all duties of the Department.
Now that a major road improvement project has been completed, what is the next important public infrastructure project for the village? How should it be funded?
Major road improvements (after over 15-20 years in most cases) have been accomplished due to political pressure from political opponents of this and previous Administrations.
Streets that have been in horrible conditions have been repaired. Others that are in mediocre stages will need to be addressed in the future through grants such CDBG’s (community Block Development Grants) and other State/Federal grants.
More importantly, the next infrastructure projects should primarily focus on water quality, flooding and sewers. Cure-in-lining, sewer separation projects and 50/50 Village-Resident flood control device installments should be our main focus. Accomplishing and passing a Flood Mitigation Plan (which the Village never had) qualifies the Village to receive grants for flood protection measures from FEMA and the IEMA.
With respect to water/sewer funding, the Village could never fund any projects due to a consistent 20 year loss in water revenues. The money that the Village makes from water is directed towards maintaining our water and sewer infrastructure, the likelihood of that fund financing any projects have been dismal and unattainable.
Would the village benefit from a comprehensive planning process, perhaps as part of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning a la Riverside and Brookfield? If not, why not?
Before we submit to any comprehensive planning process, we need to first initiate a Business Development Group or Chamber of Commerce. Only then, can we sit down and have a discussion on whether to move forward with this respective planning process.
Do you support red light cameras? If so, why? If not, how would you replace the revenue from cameras now earmarked for pension obligations?
Red Light Cameras do create a good deal of revenue, but we cannot become reliant on this source of revenue due to the declining performances that occur year after year. We were projected to make $1.9 million and only produced $1.3 million so there will be considerate declines over the years. Unfortunately, we cannot measure the negative impact these cameras have on consumers boycotting or avoiding our Business District. We would survey the Residents and Business Owners to acquire a consensus on the future of red light cameras in North Riverside.
What are the other important issues facing North Riverside in the next four years? How should those be addressed?
We need to promote fiscally responsible measures in order to maintain balanced budgets (including Union and Non-Union pension contributions which were not funded in the past) while focusing on any surpluses towards paying off our ever growing deficit.
We need to support all Village Employees, both Union and Non-Union by budgeting for the necessary financial means they need to strengthen, secure and grow the services to the Village of North Riverside. Currently, The Police Department is short 2 Officers. The Fire Department is short 6 Firefighters. We have spent over a Million dollars on a new Ladder Truck but do not have the personnel to man that engine due the Village’s unwillingness to hire new Firefighters. A few Public Works Employees and Recreation Employees will be retiring and we need to focus on filling those positions in order to provide the services the Residents are accustomed to.
We need to expand, strengthen and grow our sporting activities to create comradery, diversity and sportsmanship for our athletic programs.
We must end all frivolous lawsuits towards privatizing the Fire Department. It goes against the Illinois Labor Relations Acts and is lowering morale.