North Riverside Mayor Candidate
Age: 51 | Occupation: Property Management | Education: High School Graduate – 1986
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 because I love this Village and want to ensure it becomes the place that my family and I believe it can become. I became a community activist several years ago; meeting the folks in my neighborhood as we discussed great ideas to for our community.
I have since walked door-to-door throughout the Village as residents worked together for worthwhile causes. These have included transparency and accountability in local government and to help residents with whatever they need.
Since becoming a Village Trustee in 2019, I have continued that work and have pledged always to keep the citizens involved. My background for decades has been in property management. In that profession, I work with people to problem-solve; and I must successfully balance a budget, focused on efficiencies, while still providing for the necessities. This experience will serve me well as we tackle the tremendous financial and debt challenges that the prior administration has left to us.
What can be done to ensure the village’s long-term financial viability and make it more resistant to downturns in sales tax revenues?
The VIP/United Party legacy will always be that they missed opportunities to diversify revenue streams while they still had a big one (The Mall). They had a “golden goose” and they just rode it until it collapsed.
Failing to plan is no longer an option. We must get the help of the best and the brightest so that we can compete with our west suburban neighbors for retail and other commercial enterprises. We have great natural resources, which include a “prime locale” and prime real estate to use to our advantage. Also, diversification is key. We can no longer idly put all our eggs in one basket.
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?
As Mayor I will do what the prior administrations have refused to do. Listen to the people; get input from the residents; bring in professionals with new and creative approaches to business development and Village management; and seek consensus for short-term and long-term planning. Together, we will make the hard decisions required to ensure that North Riverside will be a great community for our children and grandchildren. These are the types of things that I have already started and have been working toward as a Trustee.
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?
As discussed in some prior responses; public input is an integral perspective needed to establish short range and long-range Village plans. Transparency and honesty are critical before any major decisions can be made related to any modifications in zoning and business development that will impact either sector (residential or commercial).
Once specialized professionals work with us to determine how North Riverside can best utilize any competitive advantages we have; these plans must be thoroughly vetted through public review and citizen input. We must work together to forge a strong future vision. We can no longer allow preferential VIP / United Party deals to be formed and agreed to in the backroom of Village Hall.
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?
Communication must always be a multi-phased approach. (a) an efficient website is critical; (b) timely interaction between residents, departments and elected officials utilizing Facebook, blogs, and internet forums; (c) notifications to residents using the water bill and other mailings; (d) finding ways to assist our seniors, through special phone hotlines, robocalls, and volunteer neighborhood outreach. One size does not fit all. A PEOPLE BEFORE POLITICS Administration will listen to residents and outreach will be substantial to get public input: including town hall meetings, questionnaires, and polling.
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?
Public safety must always be a coordinated approach between the public and private sector. Our police department does great work, but we cannot overtax that resource. Accordingly, dialogue is crucial between the Village and the business community.
An Emergency Management Team (with an incident command center) must be established, including protocols, contingency plans, a chain of command, and an action plan. Large commercial sites like the Mall must play an integral part on that team and in that planning. All businesses must know what part they play and must commit resources to the effort. Cooperation and communication are the keys to success in this area.
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?
The VIP/United Party has bungled the Village’s finances for decades. My first step is to end the VIP/United Party approach and STOP LYING TO RESIDENTS. I know from my meetings with residents that our neighbors can handle the truth. There is no debate concerning the looming debt disaster:
VIP/United Party financial mismanagement has put the Village in a deep hole; to the tune of over $117 million in long term debt. IT’S A FACT. To late to go back, we can only move forward.
In a transparent manner People Before Politics will open the process and open the books. We will start with a “Zero Based Budgeting” process, where every program and expense will be scrutinized; and all programs and services will be prioritized. Instead of just rambling on year after year just watching the debt grow as they keep on spending; we will find ways to tighten our belts, economize, and put more resources/revenues toward retiring the debt of prior administrations. No more exorbitant salaries and retirement goodies to the friends of the VIP / United Party. We will find solutions together.
What are the three most important issues facing North Riverside in the next four years? How should those be addressed?
The PEOPLE BEFORE POLITICS PARTY is running on a platform that includes the following THREE KEYS TO A BRIGHTER NORTH RIVERSIDE FUTURE:
1. Transparency & Communication: In a People Before Politics administration
Residents will be our partners in righting the ship. Public input will be solicited and incorporated into every decision concerning priorities for programs and services and the budgetary process. Government and the books will now become refreshingly OPEN; and not hidden from the public. No longer will VIP/United Party friends and family be given preferential treatment, big salaries and benefits at taxpayer expense. No more “Pay To Play” by VIP campaign contributors. No more NO-BID contracts.
2. Financial Integrity: The failed and amateurish finance policies of the VIP / United
Party have made us the laughingstock of municipalities across the state. That is not just our opinion. You are welcome to confirm this with a look at the Illinois Comptroller’s Website. North Riverside’s own website shows tremendous debt growth and fiscal mismanagement over the years. The Village has been chastised by the Illinois Department of Labor and the Illinois Appellate Court for illegally failing to properly fund our pensions. Enough is Enough. Balance our Budgets, prioritize our programs and services; properly fund debt reduction. Be realistic and honest and we can work together to implement solutions.
3. Enhanced Business Development: We must learn from our history and the VIP/
United Party’s failed policy of putting all our eggs in one basket (the Mall). Diversification is the key, while we play our great resources to our competitive advantage. This will take planning and the use of creative specialists and professionals to fight with us. We can no longer improperly cut backroom deals with VIP / United Party preferred business friends, to the detriment of our Village’s future. An open process with public input will be key for all projects moving forward.