North Riverside Trustee Candidate
Age: 41 | Occupation: Teacher | Education: Bachelors from Eastern Illinois; Masters from Governors State; 60 post graduate hours from Loyola Marymount University
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 in North Riverside because I love the village and want to raise my two children here. Having two young children is a big reason for my getting involved and running for office.
The debt the village has accrued is astonishing to me and the decisions the VIP/United Party has made over the years has baffled me. I am motivated to get involved and make some changes so that other families with young children will want to stay in the village and others will continue to want to move here, since families with young children play a big part in keeping the village great.
I would like to get elected, reduce this debt, and then allow someone in the community with younger children to step up once mine are older. I believe term limits will stop this village from going deeper in the hole. The debt problem is due to decades of mismanagement by the same people of the VIP/United Party.
The experience and perspective I will bring to the village is just plain and simple COMMON SENSE. Using common sense, I would be bidding out all contracts and not wasting taxpayer dollars on unwinnable lawsuits.
What can be done to ensure the village’s long-term financial viability and make it more resistant to downturns in sales tax revenues?
We need to STOP whatever the VIP/UNITED PARTY has been doing with deficit spending and debt growth. Also, the VIP/United Party has done nothing to increase our commercial and retail tax base.
For decades they relied only on the Mall, and that’s what got us into financial trouble. A more comprehensive and professional approach is required. I also think one of the most important steps to take is to bid out contracts. We need to economize, and competitive bids help to ensure we give taxpayers the best buy for their dollar.
Also, in the future I think all employee contracts need to be on a year to year to basis until we see how the economy reacts to the pandemic. There is no way any contract should get more than a one-year deal for now.
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?
We all have to work together. I will take residents’ and businesses’ input to see where we can reach consensus. A professional approach and a more vibrant and active chamber of commerce will allow us to help all businesses and find ways to merge efforts for both business and residential priorities.
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?
North Riverside needs an active and involved chamber of commerce to work with the Village. I am open to all and any ideas that will help the village to diversify the tax base and the commercial landscape. The village can work in cooperation with each property owner for redevelopment.
Although I am in favor of providing incentives to businesses we must not get carried away and give outrageous incentives, like 50% of sales tax the next 20 years. Harlem and Cermak is one of the busiest intersections in the state and most businesses would have no problem thriving there. So I am against the deal the VIP/United Party put together for Zieglar.
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?
I think all elected officials should have their own Facebook accounts so residents looking for information or answers can message them directly. This would be in addition to having all Official Village accounts and communication tools being more open and transparent. Over the decades the VIP/United Party got used to doing things behind closed doors. People Before Politics intends to open the government and actively seek residents’ input.
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?
I believe the Village Police Officers did well in responding to the civil unrest in town. It is impossible to stop everything from happening when groups of people show up at all different times to start chaos. The NR police did an awesome job by blocking street access to nonresidents and keeping all of the opportunists away from the residential homes, for the most part.
As a Trustee I will work with all departments to continue to plan for such emergencies. We also need better communication with, and cooperation from, our business community. A joint approach is important.
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?
Property taxes will stay low due to the fact that we are a non-home rule village (limiting tax increases). Residents should not have to pay more to fund pensions. The mismanagement of money by the VIP/ United Party has put us in this situation. We will have to economize and find ways to tackle the debt.
We will not deficit spend like the VIP. One thing is for sure, People Before Politics will not hide from the VIP disaster. Once they are gone, we will work toward long range solutions with professional financial management.
What are the three most important issues facing North Riverside in the next four years? How should those be addressed?
The debt is the most important issue North Riverside faces. This can be addressed by bidding out contracts and looking closely at every expense the village has, which includes all paid employees. I know that is not what people want to hear, but the village hired multiple people to work during this pandemic.
While businesses around town were shut down and the village was losing income from it, the VIP/United Party administration went ahead and hired employees instead of being prudent and waiting.
Another issue people may not want to hear is, as I mentioned previously, all employee contracts this year need to be on one-year deals until we can assess how the economy is doing.