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: Ran for 2010 Consolidated Election
Previous community experience: Eagle Scout, Co-Founder of the JM Foundation, Supporter of Opportunity Knocks, CAEEL, Whitney Young Career Participant
Occupation: Branch Manager-Mortgage Banker
Education: Riverside Brookfield High School, Bachelors in Consumer Economics and Finance with a Emphasis in Financial Planning from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.
What should the village board’s role be in promoting economic development?
(The village board should have a large role. The board is the ambassador of this town. An extension of the people who live here. They should be dynamic. Board members should be expected to network, attend small business associations and truly sell the best parts of this town.) 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 board needs prevalent faces. People who own and are in tune with business. They need to be aware of what it takes to own a business. We have been doing the sit and wait for people to knock on our door too long. It is competitive out there and we need people who know how to network and really show off this town)
Since the last election in 2017, there has been quite a bit of change in terms of village hall staffing – a new manager, planner, fire chief, public works director (still to be named) and recreation director – what do you make of all that change and what do you think of the team that’s assembled at this time?
(The board has to collaborate with the staff. I truly believe we need to allow the community to meet these people. We need to make this a community. We want people to feel comfortable to go to work. We want less turnover but also expecting production from them is not out of the ordinary. We need our board to be an example and to help and coach any employees who need it. It is important to work together. With my staff of 18 at my office, I have minimum turnover because we need input from all aspects of our business/town)
Much has been made over appropriate uses in Brookfield commercial districts, particularly Eight Corners, in the past year or so. What’s the best way to foster the development the village prefers?
This is a tough question because I have not seen the actual plans nor do I think anyone has them right now. But eight corners we can argue is the heart of our town that has been bare for a while. We need to bring business into that area. We need to possibly look at compromises as well to see what the long term benefits can be for that area as well. Attracting people to the town is how we get the ability to have many interested parties in our center of town as well. Ogden and 31st nor the leveraging the volume of people from the zoo has not been leveraged. We need to get more people in our town which brings interest and business.
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?
The alleys are another tough issue. Sure we could issue a 40 Million dollar 30 year muni bonds or note and rip the band aid off now. All taxes per house would go up about 300 to 400 a year. However we need to really work with our local real estate professionals to see if paving the alleys helps values, which pushes up values, which causes more people/business to show interest in our town. My alley is a lake. We would have opposition but we have to look at it as a whole. There are people in this town who don’t use the schools and still pay or who don’t call the police but we still pay for them. So it would have to be one of those decisions in my opinion, would this make the town nicer? Increase values and allow more people and places to notice our town? Long term benefits might outweigh the short term cost? I don’t know for sure. We would really have to look at these though. I do not believe in kicking cans down the road either.
Are there areas where the village could be providing better service to residents? How?
It seems to be in general people don’t like their politicians nor their village. This has to change. People should expect good service from the people who are paid by the town and elected to lead. We need real leaders. We need to get more people involved in the meetings. How do we do that? Invite people. Honor people. Respect people. The more you say Thank You to someone the more they will respect the you/the town. We want people encouraged to go into the hall and respect the building department and pull permits. Not do things under the table. We want to instill in village employees that returning calls is a must. Good service is a must. Coach the staff and have compassion for people. It pays dividends.
What other issues do you feel will be important for the next village board to address? How should they be addressed?
I am running with Mark and Tom. The one thing we can agree on is that we are never going to agree on everything…..and that’s ok. Different view points make things better. We don’t need a yes board anymore. We need people who are going to attract business. We need to bring producers to this board. Business owners. We have to move away from the idea that sitting around and waiting for the phone to ring is ok. We have to make that phone ring and we need bring people to our town. We bring people to our meetings. We get people involved. I want people to be proud of our town. We need good healthy debate. In a good compromise and negotiation both sides are a little upset. That’s ok though. We need people who understand that. We need people who understand economics…if you build a bigger building it is not just the cost of the building. But we need to account for the cost of the building and the new staff we have to hire to run it and the increased costs to heat and cool it. We need people who really understand and know how to look at all aspects.