North Riverside Mayor Candidate
Age: 52 | Occupation: Executive Director / Non-profit Administration | Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration
Why are you running for mayor of 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 mayor to improve the lives of our residents and sustain a higher quality of life for all in our village. I believe we can restore the charm and pride that our small town had in years past and ensure that our commercial corridors remain vibrant and safe.
Talking to residents and finding ways to help them accomplish their goals is what motivates me the most. Listening to resident’s concerns and having the ability to address those concerns in a positive manner, in order to obtain verifiable results, to get things accomplished, is what I’ve been doing for over 30 years. In my professional career, I assist individuals and their families in meeting their needs for continued services. It brings me a great sense of reward to assist people in achieving their goals.
Listening with respect, hearing all voices is what will bring our village together. We must manage and plan effectively to protect the taxpayer. When our taxes are stable and our streets safe, our home values will increase as well. High-quality cost-efficient services for our residents are paramount. Again, my goal comes from improving the quality of life for all people.
What can be done to ensure the village’s long-term financial viability and make it more resistant to downturns in sales tax revenues?
This board, along with the vigilance of village management, have been able to put money aside as a reserve or “rainy day” fund to ensure that the village is able weather short term storms while continuing to provide the highest possible quality of services to our residents.
The Village needs to invest in our business district and market it to bolster our tax revenues, and also draft new ordinances or amendments to existing ordinances to limit the number of non-tax generating revenue space throughout our business district. I also think it’s important that we work side by side with our local business partners with the same dignity and support that we provide to our residents.
As mayor 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?
I recently created an opportunity for over 150 of our senior citizen residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It was a tough decision because those who were not part of this round of vaccinations were critical of the process in which we were able to bring this service to our community.
Unfortunately, no one has the ability to make everyone happy all of the time, and I was faced with a decision. Do I create this life-saving opportunity for our community’s most vulnerable, or do I keep those who criticized the process happy, and risk letting the opportunity pass?
I decided to implement our first pop up vaccination clinic through a method that would guarantee as many of our senior citizens would have access to, and the peace of mind of receiving the vaccine if they chose to accept it.
Something else that I would like to help all residents better understand, if I am elected to serve as their mayor, are Tax Levies. The village benefits when we request a higher percentage of tax dollars from large corporations who drastically improve the value of their property, but by doing so we then also have to raise property taxes on our resident’s and their properties.
We cannot increase property taxes for some, and not for others. Do we go for a higher levy amount of property taxes to capture any new development taxes from large corporations and run the risk of increasing individual resident’s property taxes, or do we let it go and lose village revenue gains?
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 restoring that small town charm that may have slipped away by the lack of enforcement of village codes.
I want to set a higher standard for all of our business partners that would invite our residents to dine and shop in an attractive, accessible and safe business district. This is a call to revamp ordinances and codes, setting a higher standard for the betterment of our entire town.
We are a beautifully diverse community, and we are dedicated to all of our residents. Affordable housing is a very important aspect of inclusion within our village. Should the property owners consider adding housing to any redevelopment plans I would strongly advocate for a percentage to be designated for low-income households but include community input into any planned development.
I have over three decades of experience securing grants and support for my low-income program participants and families who I serve through my non-profit social service agency. I would draw from my experience to work with the business property owners to secure federal assistance towards the development of any new residential project.
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 a tricky yet very powerful tool. It can be widely beneficial but at the same time it can be incredibly damaging with misinformation, and often times skewed biases.
I would like to ensure our residents are getting accurate information in a timely manner, directly from the village and village officials. If elected mayor, I would direct the village administrator to funnel information to our residents across all platforms. It’s important that our residents have a trusted source for information, and I would ensure that source comes directly from us.
In addition, I would like to see our village board meetings televised on local outlets such as Riverside TV and RBTV. I feel the village as a whole would benefit from someone full time who is devoted to development and public relations.
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?
The Village needs to continue taking the lead on dealings and happenings at the North Riverside Mall but there needs to be an obligation on the part of mall ownership to assist in our costs.
I would hold the mall accountable for the growing need of increased security measures that would ensure the safety and comfort of all patrons. The mall needs to work with the village to ensure a standard that doesn’t come at the cost of our residents.
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?
We need to continue on our path of paying our pension obligations at the same level we have for the past seven years and seek alternative revenue sources to pay for projects and equipment needed for the future.
No, the residents do not need to pay more for the pension obligations and that idea would have to go to a referendum which would most likely never pass. Knowing this, we need to continue implementing our pension payment policy and look for alternative ways of increasing revenues and as mentioned above, by seeking more grant dollars to pay for projects and equipment through that means.
Another reason I would like to create a position dedicated to development. I also believe that we need to better utilize our lobbyists to work with state officials to create some sort of pension reform to ease the burden many municipalities are faced with.