Below are candidate-submitted answers to a survey Wednesday Journal sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
Profession: Accounts Executive, Illinois Licensed Elevator inspector, Anderson Elevator Company
Married: Wife of 26 years Sally,
Children: Twin daughters Abigail and Molly age 12 (6th grade)
Experience: In 2009 I successfully ran for Village Trustee, serving until 2013( four year term)
In 2013 I unsuccessfully ran for Village President.
Have you ever run for or served in a local political office before? If so, when and which office?
Prior to serving as Trustee I served as a commissioner on the Traffic and Safety Committee
If you are not currently on the village board, how many village board meetings have you attended in the last year?
In the last year I have attended approximately sixty five percent of the Village Board meetings. However, all of the board meetings are available to hear on the village website recordings.
Why are you running for trustee? What talents and skills can you bring to bear that will have an impact on village government?
I seek the position of Village Trustee because I believe my past experience as trustee can be a benefit to the Village Board and the citizens of River Forest. There will be no learning curve. I will be ready to contribute immediately. My four years experience is two more than half of the current Village Board members. I have served with all but two of the current board members. I know we can work together for the greater good of the residents of River Forest
A great many of the issues facing the Village government were before the board while I was trustee two years ago. Existing T.I.F. developments, Northside Water Management project, and the village’s corridor improvement program to name a few.
I seek this position because I believe that citizens need to take an active role in their government in order to provide the best possible solutions to the challenges that face River Forest today and in the future.
My skills as a contractor and inspector will serve River Forest well. With multiple infrastructure projects slated for the near future, it is important to possess the knowledge of how to develop, plan and execute a project within budget and on time. Communication to the residents is a key component of village government as well as in my daily occupation. The Village Board must function as a business. Revenues vs. expenses are common between the two. I am a businessman. Customer relations, human resources and quality of service are all part of my expertise, and skill set.
Give us your thoughts on Economic Development. Be specific. What are your thoughts about the Economic Development Commission?
With regard to economic development, I would like the village to be more active in it’s recruiting of new business. Forest Park and Oak Park seem to be doing a better job . Development is a tricky thing for a village that is basically a residential community.. The elected officials need to make it clear to the business community that we are in this together as a team.
When a business does well, the village prospers too. During the next four years as trustee, I would strive to complete the two T.I.F. projects on Lake Street, and minimize any delays to the development to the Dominics and Hines sites.
I foresee a very busy four years in River Forest’s future.
The ordinance establishing the Economic Development Commission in 2013 has defined a very good blueprint for assistance to the village board by a group of professionals engaged the economic development community. Their expertise on such issues is beneficial to the board, and as trustee, I would encourage and assist them in any way possible.
They have done good work. I look forward to their future contributions.
The village is moving ahead to create tax increment finance districts on Madison and North Avenue. What is your understanding of TIFS, how they work and their benefits for economic development? Would you back them?
I would back the T.I.F. projects along Madison and North avenues. The Lake Street T.I.F. was a success.
The basic operation of a T.I.F. is to pool tax resources from multiple taxing bodies for the use of development which in the long run, increases the tax revenues for those taxing bodies. The Lake Street T.I.F. is a fine example. While a trustee I, along with my fellow board members, voted to purchase property at Lake and Park, establish a financial incentive pool for Town Center, and set aside developmental money for Lake and Lathrop.
A major item on the VP’s agenda has been collaboration. What has been accomplished in working with other units of government and organizations? What would you like to see happen? Be specific. Should the village encourage other entities to collaborate among themselves; and that includes District 90 and District 200.
I think the village board has struggled with collaboration in recent years. The Township discussions could have been handled more diplomatically as well as the school district plan development process. I feel the elected bodies need to sit down as a group to discuss their missions and plans for the future. The boards should work together more. But that will not occur if the individual boards enter the discussions with an adversarial mindset. Trust is a big part of this process. The elected bodies need to come together on the small issues so future larger issues don’t have such a great expanse to cross to get agreements. All elected bodies should be included in these discussions. They all have positives that can be brought to the table.
Township – More and stronger collaboration between the township and the village can be one way to lower taxes. How would you make that happen? What areas can be merged? Building manager position, legal and other areas come to mind. Can you think of any others? Be specific.
I can not accept the premise that merging the village with the Township would be an improvement. The theory is sound, but the necessary information has never been compiled by the two organization. The basic question of ” will this be beneficial to the village” has never been answered. Financial concerns are not the only issue. Quality and level of service is more important to me than saving a small amount of money. Either way, a substantial investigation needs to take place before such a drastic undertaking moves forward.
The village may be looking at making budget cuts as a result of a drop in the state income tax. What would you cut and why? How would you prioritize what you’d like to cut? Be specific.
Budget cuts in River Forest means employees. The Village of River Forest is a very lean and efficient organization. I am proud of our employees. They all do an excellent job. Before I, as trustee, would entertain any cuts, I would be certain we are functioning at the best revenue level that is possible. The idea that the new Governor wants to make drastic changes should not bring about a crisis of thought. The state legislature needs to approve the plans. The village needs to be prepared for the worst, but reality is not as apocalyptic as this question appears. That said, Springfield has a lot of tough decisions to make, and the sooner the better.
Should the village keep red light cameras? Why? If you elected to eliminate them, what would you do to cut to make up for the loss of revenue?
On February 4th 2014 the Wednesday Journal reported that the red light camera at Harlem and North has reduced accidents from 25 to 8 in the first year of operation. That is what I call a success. The revenue was also reported as $482,556.00 dollars during that first year, another benefit to River Forest. I would not have to think of alternate sources of revenue for the cameras. I would not eliminate them. I was and continue to be a proponent of them. They have done everything I have hoped they would do. Improved safety, improved police efficiency , increased revenue without raising taxes, all are good for River Forest.
The community’s population is diversifying. What would you do to make people of color welcome in River Forest?
I feel that River Forest is a very welcoming village. I am unaware that River Forest is unwelcoming to people of color. My duty as trustee would be to present River Forest as welcoming to everyone no matter their skin color or any other category that is chosen.
Thank you for the opportunity to participate in your review of the candidates. Should you require any additional information please do not hesitate in calling me.
I look forward to our face to face gathering.