North Riverside Trustee Candidate
Age: 59 | Occupation: Retired Electrical Engineer at ComEd, Current Consultant/Contractor at MZI Group | Education: St. Rita High School, Certified Electrical Engineering courses given at ComEd
Why are you running for trustee in North Riverside? What motivates you and what experience and perspectives would you bring to the job? How would those be valuable as an elected official?
I am running for trustee to aid in the growth of the village so North Riverside can continue to be a home for all families and community members. I am motivated to help others in the community prosper.
As a person of color, I hope to be a voice to all people in the village and to listen to their needs. In addition, I have served on various committees as a trustee as well as for The Parish of Mater Christi. I was a member of the finance committee at Mater Christi where I made important financial decisions with the board. I was also the secretary and am the current treasurer for the Holy Name Society.
As a current trustee of North Riverside, I have served as the Fire and Police Chairperson. The skills I have learned throughout my experiences will continue to guide me as a trustee to better serve my community.
What can be done to ensure the village’s long-term financial viability and make it more resistant to downturns in sales tax revenues?
As a trustee, I am committed to the development and well-being of North Riverside businesses. During the pandemic, many North Riverside businesses stayed open and thrived despite the difficulties. In order for our North Riverside businesses to continue to thrive, North Riverside residents should shop local to support our financial viability. As a trustee, my focus will continue to be on bringing in more businesses to help support our village.
As a trustee you will be asked to balance what’s best for the village as a whole with what might be in the interest of businesses or specific residents. How will you do that? When have you had occasion to do something similar in the past and how did you accomplish that?
My priority as a trustee is to advocate for all North Riverside residents. To demonstrate this, I have made it a priority to improve communication with our residents. For example, when we found out that North Riverside was going to host a Cook County Public Health Clinic to get our residents vaccinated, we informed our residents immediately. I am proud to continue to keep our residents informed and updated on what is happening around our village.
What future do you envision for North Riverside’s residential and commercial districts? How should the village approach redevelopment in the face the challenges faced by the retail sector? Should affordable housing be part of that redevelopment conversation? Why or why not?
I envision more commercial stores in the mall as we have one of the busiest corners (i.e. Harlem and Cermak) in the Chicagoland area that attracts many customers. In the future, I see North Riverside businesses modernized with the goal to attract more customers. At this time, all options will be kept open with respect to redevelopment, but our goals will first be to support our residents and local businesses.
Social media has become an important way for local officials to communicate with local residents, but not everyone in the village is on social media. What do you feel is the best way for elected officials to use social media to communicate with residents and how will you communicate with the wider community beyond that?
Social media is an important way to communicate, but it is not the only way to communicate with residents. I believe we should implement a text alert in addition to the phone call alert system for emergency announcements. Residents will be able to opt in to receive other updates as well. We will continue to improve our community alerts to reach all residents.
Last summer was a challenging one for North Riverside in terms of fallout from civil unrest and safety concerns at North Riverside Park Mall. What role should the village play in responding to and preventing such incidents in the future?
North Riverside Village played a critical role during the civil unrest. Should this happen again, we need to communicate with residents on what is happening and what to do to be safe. During the civil unrest, we along with North Riverside Police, issued a curfew to ensure residents stay safe at home. In order to prevent these incidents, we should continue to improve and work on our emergency preparedness plan together with our Police Department.
North Riverside historically has asked homeowners to pay very little in property taxes to support village services. With pension obligations continuing to grow and the state of retail sales on uncertain ground, how would you continue to keep property taxes low? Do residents need to start paying more to fund obligations such as pensions? Why or why not?
At the moment, I don’t see the need to raise property taxes. More people are beginning to shop again, bringing revenue to the village. As our residents are dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, there is no need for property taxes to be raised.
What are the three most important issues facing North Riverside in the next four years? How should those be addressed?
One issue I see that is relevant is the issue of climate change and North Riverside should follow with environmental sustainability. Educating residents and local shoppers on how to properly recycle and dispose of trash. The Village can add a bag tax, like the City of Chicago, to reduce waste and to bring additional revenue to the Village.
Another issue is the rebuilding from the pandemic. Our businesses, residents, and community must work together to recover from the effects of COVID-19.
Finally, North Riverside is becoming more and more multicultural, so it is necessary to ensure all residents feel welcomed and no one is discriminated against. We need to continue to make North Riverside a welcoming village.