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:
- Brookfield Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee Member, 2017 – 2018
- Brookfield Conservation Commissioner, 2016 – Present
- Brook Park Council Member (Yearbook Committee), 2018 – Present
- Brookfield Women’s Club Member, 2019 – Present
- Go Green Brookfield Co-Founder, 2017 – Present
Occupation: Associate Director, Illinois Green Alliance (Non-profit organization)
- Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Management & Environmental Policy, University of Michigan
- Master of Science in Public Service Administration, DePaul University
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?
One role of the Village Board should be ensuring that staff have the capacity, financial resources and tools needed to drive successful economic development initiatives. The Village Board should work and the Planning and Zoning Commission to ensure Brookfield continues to create an environment that promotes positive economic development. This includes making sure our policies and processes are up to date and in line with the best practices of surrounding communities, such as equipping staff with the technology to expedite permitting and reports on mobile devices and providing new and existing businesses with resources and information to be successful in town.
The Village Board should also play a role in spreading the word that Brookfield is an excellent community for young families and that businesses catering to families can find success here. In fact, a recent Crain’s article featured Brookfield maintaining one of the top real estate markets in Cook County. Promoting stories like this can continue to help frame our community as a great place to invest and open up shop. A recent Village Board meeting also proposed a look at better wayfinding signage to help those passing through the village, or coming to or from the zoo, to help find Brookfield’s local businesses and business districts more easily. I think this would be a worthwhile project to direct more traffic to our current business community.
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?
After the previous Village Manager’s departure, I think the Village Board took a good step in placing an interim Village Manager to continue the daily function and procedures of the Village while taking the time to find the right person for the permanent position. I think we were very lucky to find a match with Tim Wiberg, and he has already made some great progress and hires. During the interim village manager’s time, a wonderful new Parks & Recreation Director was hired and has made huge strides during her first six months assessing current programs, bringing new programs online and utilizing part-time staff in exciting new ways.
The recently hired Village Planner has good foundational experience and I look forward to seeing her thrive in this role in Brookfield. I’m looking forward to meeting the new Public Works Director and engaging him further in the work of the Conservation Commission. The new Fire Chief is a dedicated and well-qualified professional that was hired from within and had been with the Village of Brookfield for many years. It seems to me that the Village Board and staff have done their due diligence to get the right people in place and Brookfield is on a positive trajectory with the new staff in place at this time.
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?
The Village Board and staff should continue to move forward with input from members of the Chamber of Commerce, and overall business community, to make infrastructure and aesthetic improvements to the Eight Corners business district through funds acquired through the designated TIF district. We should also continue to seek grants for these improvements where appropriate and applicable. After serving on the Steering Committee for the recently adopted Brookfield Comprehensive Plan, I look forward to the next steps the village takes to create an actionable implementation plan that builds upon the goals and intentions of each area of the plan. Following the guidance of the plan, and with continued community and business input, I believe the village will be able to foster greater development in the Eight Corners area over time. The workshops to gather community input and crowd-source potential solutions were very effective in informing the Comprehensive Plan and I hope to see more of this activity during the implementation phases.
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?
This is a subject that I’ve heard quite a bit about since moving to Brookfield. The current petition system in place is working as a viable solution for those residents that are willing to invest in this infrastructure improvement. I am also very pleased that village has adopted a “green alley” program for those alleys that currently do go through the petition system. Paving more surfaces in Brookfield could exacerbate the current stormwater issues facing the community, however, green alleys are an excellent stormwater management investment and solution for the area.
The Village Board can also work with the new Public Works Director to identify other possible paths forward including keeping an eye on potential grant funding opportunities that may assist in this major infrastructure improvement. I do believe the cost to address the entire alley system in Brookfield is much too high and I don’t feel another road infrastructure referendum to address alleys is palatable in Brookfield at this time.
Are there areas where the village could be providing better service to residents? How?
A couple of months ago I may have answered that the village could really be providing more ways to bring the community together through additional events and programming – something my family looks forward to every year. However, the line-up of additional events coming online for Brookfield in 2019 is very exciting and I think starts to better meet the needs and expectations of the younger families continuing to call Brookfield home. I do think the village could improve and diversify the communication methods that can inform residents about the great community services and programming available. The village recently upgraded its website to be more user-friendly but could improve its social media presence and further promote the opt-in email system for residents to be informed of programs, services, events and newsworthy items more quickly. The Parks and Recreation systems have recently become more automated online, which is an improvement, but could still be better, and staff are looking for more ways to improve the automation of the permitting and inspection process, which could speed up construction and development services in the community as well.
What other issues do you feel will be important for the next village board to address? How should they be addressed?
In the coming years, I think it will be important for the Village Board to continue to assess and proactively address the aging infrastructure throughout the village by working with the engineer and Public Works to identify opportunities, priorities and plan costs out over time. The village staff and board should also continue to seek funding opportunities through grants and municipal programs to help support the infrastructure upgrades and ensure alignment with the Comprehensive Plan. It is important for the Village Board to work closely with the new Village Manager during his first years in Brookfield with the goal to keep finances secure and continue Brookfield moving on a great path forward. The next Village Board should work with staff and our vibrant community of engaged residents and businesses to implement the Comprehensive Plan.
Brookfield already has so many strong assets. Through my experiences getting to know new and long-time residents through the Oak Savanna volunteer work days, Brookfield Women’s Club events, Go Green Brookfield meetings, and seeing other interest groups and clubs pop up in my short time here, I know that Brookfield is an awesome place where people choose to live, invest their time and continue to find community. The board should continue to foster community engagement and leadership within the village through involvement on commissions, local groups and clubs, and promote the activities and positive outcomes these groups continue to bring to our diverse and active community.