Patty Henek

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Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Wednesday Journal sent out to all candidates running in this year's elections.

Age: 49

Previous political experience: No elected office, but did run for village trustee in 2015.

Previous community experience:

LemonAid Founding Member, 2002 – present

PTO President: Lincoln, 2005 - 2007 & Roosevelt, 2010 – 2011

District 90 PTO Committee Chair, 2001 – 2013

District 90 Community Caucus Chair, 2009

District 90 School Referendum Committee, 2006

The Neighborhood Giving Project Board Member, 2013 – 2016

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Volunteer Event Chair, 2003 - present


Holiday Food & Gift Basket, Coordinator, 2011 – present

International Housewares Association, Staff, 2016 - present 

Economic development has been a major focus for the village board in recent years, but some projects have stalled and the review process for some have been complicated. How can the village board make the review process more efficient while also looking out for concerns residents?

I don't believe it was the review process that complicated recent projects.  I believe it was more about communication.  For instance, residents within the Madison TIF District felt plans were not well communicated.  Unfortunately, public meetings were not held until after the draft ordinance was written.  According to TIF guidelines, any changes to the ordinance requires a restart of the process.  I applaud the board for recognizing the residents' concerns, and their willingness to restart the process to alleviate the concerns.

The board has learned from the experience and will take a different approach when initiating the North Ave. TIF District.  They will improve communication and allow for resident input prior to moving into the formal review process.  This should eliminate the same start, stop and restart that occurred with the Madison TIF. 

The village board has granted numerous extensions for proposed developments at Lake and Park and Lake and Lathrop. At what point, if ever, should the village board seek other alternatives?

In regards to Lake and Park, the village board voted at their last meeting to issue a new RFP to developers.  I believe this was the right thing to do.

In regards to Lake and Lathrop, I understand there have been a number of extenuating circumstances that have slowed the project, including the market downturn.  However, I believe after a reasonable amount of time, if a developer is unable to proceed on a project, then it is in the financial interest of the community to seek alternatives.

The village board has identified TIF districts as a tool for promoting development on Madison Street and may seek to do the same on North Avenue. What do you think about TIF districts as tools for redevelopment in River Forest? Are you in favor of sharing incremental revenue with other taxing bodies, such as school districts? Why or why not? 

Creating a TIF district is the best option that a municipality has to jump start economic development.   River Forest had great success with the TIF at Harlem and Lake St.  Once the goals of the TIF are met, I would support the redistribution of surplus funds to other taxing bodies.

How important is it to ensure preservation of River Forest's historic homes? What can the village do to safeguard those homes from demolition? How does the question of property rights play into the equation?

I do believe it is important to preserve historic homes in River Forest.  The variety and significance of many homes adds to the character of our community.  It's a significant factor that many home buyers consider.

Shortly after my husband and I purchased our home, we worked with The Landmark Preservation Counsel to ensure the front of our house would be preserved.  We felt it was the right thing to do even though it might mean higher improvement costs or a more limited pool of potential buyers. 

Several years later we determined we needed to improve the efficiency of our windows.  We were limited on our options, and eventually found a local contractor with experience rehabbing and repairing historical windows. 

I appreciate for some homeowners the cost of preserving an historical home can become a burden.  The benefit of the Historical Preservation Commission is that homeowners will have a resource to help navigate options.  

The recently passed Historical Preservation Ordinance slows down the process of a potential demolition.  The commission is able to work with the homeowner to understand the significance of preserving the property, and to help find possible alternatives. 

Do you support red light cameras? If so, why? If not, how can the revenue generated by the cameras, which is set aside for capital improvements, be replaced? 

Red light cameras are a tool municipalities can use for law enforcement.  Since the installation of the cameras at Harlem & Lake St. and Harlem & North Ave., statistics do show a decrease in accidents.  It's hard to argue that is not a good thing. 

The current board unanimously signed a four-year contract with Safe Speed, LLC this past June, so I don't believe there will be a discussion to remove the cameras in the near future. 

The debate as to whether the cameras should be removed or not, is complicated when you look at the revenue.  The projected revenue for 2017 is over $600,000.  It's a significant amount of money that is currently used for capital improvements. 

What other issues involving village government are important to you, and how do you plan to advocate for them?

I am a strong advocate of communication with the community.  I believe the success of any plan, whether it's moving forward on development or implementing sustainability initiatives, hinges on effective communication.  Successful plans also are the result of conversations that welcome multiple perspectives, especially in the early stages.

The board is currently working on a new communication plan.  It will be an evolving process.  As new communication avenues, such as Facebook, are rolled out, it will require evaluation on what is working and what should be added or changed.  I believe my professional skills and volunteer experience will enhance the Board's discussion.

Economic development is a high priority.  I believe it is imperative that projects move forward as soon as possible, so we start to stabilize our taxes.  I know too many residents who have either moved or are considering to move because of high taxes.  I would love for residents to be in a position to age in place. 

Again, as we start looking at possible developments, I would advocate for resident input and communication early in the process to avoid delaying a project unnecessarily.  

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