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: Congress Park Volunteer Mom; Special Olympics Volunteer; United States Army 1986-1991
Occupation: Compliance Auditor
Education: Central Texas Collage
What should the village board’s role be in promoting economic development? What are the best tools for doing so and what else can the village board to help recruit new businesses and maintain the ones already here?
The Village should take a lead role in promoting economic development. We are at a cross road where we have to choose on being identified as a western suburb or falling into an extension of the City of Chicago, Cicero and Berwyn. We are the last infill city in the western suburbs where people are looking to move into.
One of the biggest components of our platform is the development of the downtown district. That is our goal. We hope to achieve this by exploring the connection of the TIFF Districts that have been created. None of them address the downtown district or the BNSF Corridor. Our goal in promoting development is not to reinvent the wheel, but to look west and see what is working and what is not working for our neighboring communities. La Grange-360 Rental units, Downers Grove-225 Rental Units, Lisle-200 Rental Units, Naperville-300 +
In order to achieve the development goals of this community, several events need to take place.
There needs to be a stronger governmental presence in the marketplace. Brookfield should have a presence at various development oriented events in the community. The economic development staff’s defined roles should include meeting with local and regional developers to discuss potential development sites. The Village needs to shed the stigma associated with the Brookfield of the past perpetuated by the current administration and move into the modern era of the western suburban communities (La Grange, Downers Grove, Lisle). It is not fair to the residents of our community for the current administration to sit back and watch while these adjacent communities make significant strides in development, while we receive no benefits. Removing the current administration that has spread this stigma will be the first actionable step on the path to rejuvenating our community.
The Village is well positioned to be able to command significant new development in the future. There are many sites that are large enough to support and attract large scale developments. The new era of development is primarily oriented towards the central business district and Metra stations. The Village needs to embrace the new marketplace demands and align with the current trends so as to benefit from these changes. For this reason, it is in Brookfield’s best interest to focus on, in order of importance, 1) BNSF corridor, 2) 8 corners, 3) Ogden Avenue, and 4) 31st Street.
Refocus TIFF dollars to align with the rank of importance aforementioned.
Once we realign the community with the marketplace we will need to pursue new developments. The Village will promote increased residential density in the BNSF corridor, and 8 corners, similar to the highly successful projects in Downers Grove and Elmhurst, and mirroring the new developments being done in La Grange, Downers Grove, and Lisle. This increased residential density achieved in these other communities provides a built-in patronage to the local businesses. Their consideration and approval of dense residential (multi-family) projects has dramatically increased retail and commercial business revenue in their central business districts. The increased revenue will generate increased tax dollars for the community that can then be redistributed into public works projects, such as maintaining new infrastructure, funded by this last Special Assessment, and repaving alleys. Although we need to increase the density and number of patrons in our central business district, we need to do so in a manner that maintains the character and charm that defines our community.
We have a unique opportunity in Brookfield this election. We can choose to vote for old antiquated ideas, crumbling infrastructure, and low patronage. Or we can vote for change, for economic growth, for residential development, for rejuvenation.
We need to create an increased residential component to sustain a downtown business district. We would look to bring in developers that are in tune with residential development by creating an advisory board that have completed successful projects in communities.
We need to shed our image that Brookfield is not a Business-Friendly Community.
Development along 47th Street in McCook has produced a recreation complex, including the Max and a new aquatics center that draws thousands of families each year? Is there any way Brookfield can leverage that traffic on its side of the border?
The development on 47th Street in McCook is yet another, in a series of examples, that demonstrate this administrations inability to bring meaningful economic development to Brookfield. The question we should be asking is why is it that towns all around Brookfield, like McCook, are light years ahead of us in terms of growing their tax base leaving us to ask, what is it that we can do to capitalize on the traffic generated by the hard work of others. Once again, I believe we need to think outside the box and consider every type of business that could expand our tax base, while complimenting the core audiences created not only by the Max, but by the McCook Industrial Park
For the past several years, the village has focused on addressing flooding through a new storm water management ordinance, a village program reimbursing residents for costs of home flood-control systems and the construction of a pump station at Washington and Forest. How have those efforts succeeded and should anything else be done?
I believe while those programs have all helped there is still a great need for infrastructure improvements, mainly in this case, the state of the sewer system. Engineering reports would be reviewed and addressed according to the financial state of the Village. Once again this is the reason everything is hinged on the development in our Village. Without creating a larger tax base, it is not financially possible to address these concerns without continuously coming back to the property owners in Brookfield and asking for another special assessment.
The village in 2016 was successful in passing a referendum to address road improvements during the next decade. The village’s alleys, meanwhile continue to be a constant source of complaints from residents. What can be done to address alley improvements? Is there a better way to do it aside from the present petition system?
Yes. Expand our existing tax base through economic development as explained in question #1. We would also look down the road and make sure we are prepared for any Federal Grants that may become available for infrastructure from the current administration.
Are there areas where the village could be providing better service to residents? How?
I believe there is always room for improvements. Employees would be given training on how to provide better customer service when dealing with residents, contractors, and anyone conducting business within our Village.
We would commit to having an open-door policy with the residents. Every Monday I will encourage residents to meet with the Village President on a one-on-one basis to share comments, questions and ideas. We believe this open line of communication will encourage more participation.
We would use technology to promote more efficient services to our resident by implementing a village app that would allow residents to request report crime, request city services, and communicate with elected officials and Village Staff.
Senior services would be addressed. We would look to provide transportation services for seniors by working with PACE.
We would look to create partnerships with Corporate America to identify Illinois based companies that will sponsor senior care programs like snow removal and lawn care. This is yet another common-sense approach to problem solving. The Illinois Tollway has partnered with State Farm Insurance to create a free roadside service to stranded motorist at no cost to Illinois taxpayers.
What other issues do you feel will be important for the next village board to address? How should they be addressed?
No bid contracts need to be addressed, we would keep contracts local when possible. Transparency would be a key factor in our administration.
Another issue we believe needs to be addressed is the current ordinance on Term Limits for elected officials. I believe we need to end the musical chairs form of government that exists here in Brookfield. Once you have served two terms as Village President you should not be allowed to go back to being a trustee.
We believe it is a conflict of interest to owe the same law firm that did work for your political party $17,500.00 since 2006 and retain the same law firm as The Village Attorneys. At best, it is an appearance of impropriety, at worst it is pay to play politics.