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

Previous political experience: River Forest Township Trustee since 2005

Previous community experience: Coaching basketball, baseball and soccer teams in school and community; active in St. Luke Church 

Occupation:  Owner of Kelty Lawn Care and Kelty Pavers, River Forest, IL  

What is the value of township government in the 21st century? What can it provide that a municipal government can’t? 

River Forest Township and the Village of River Forest provide different services in our community.  The Village provides things like snow removal, streetlights, fire, police, sewers.

The Township supports programs which directly help people when they need it; we support and provide services for residents with mental health challenges, as well as for our seniors and youth. The Township Assessor is also part of the Township; the Assessor helps taxpayers understand and appeal their property taxes.

If you look at your property tax bill, the Township only costs you 1% of your tax bill.  Funds that support the Township and its human services and assessor’s office are set aside and used for that purpose only, which is really important.

With the state and federal governments trying to cut human services, the Township funding become even more essential.

The Township Board of Trustees and the people who work at the Township focus specifically on serving our seniors, youth, and people with mental health needs and financial needs. 

Are there any ways to share providing services with village government? If so, what might those be? If not, why not? 

The Township regularly works with the Village, and also the Library, Park District and District 90.  With the Village, our services are generally different, but sometimes they overlap. For example, the Township worked with the Fire Department to create the ICE Packet, a special “In Case of Emergency” information packet for seniors.  The Township funds after school programming for our middle school kids at the Library.  Township Supervisor Carla Sloan works closely with District 90 special education parents and the social workers.

The township presently contracts out services youth programming, senior services and mental health services to Oak Park Township. Are there other services the township can purchase? Should River Forest take more of those service in house?

River Forest Township and Oak Park Township share Youth Services and Senior Services.  By combining the management of these services, we are able to reduce expenses.  Since we share a high school, it makes sense to share Youth Services.  It also makes sense to share things like senior buses, rather than River Forest purchasing, maintaining and insuring their own vehicles, which is expensive.  River Forest is small, and we gain economies of scale by sharing some services with Oak Park where it makes sense.

For Mental Health Services, we have our own Mental Health Committee and Oak Park has a Community Mental Health Board, which was created and supported through separate legislation.  The Mental Health Committee works well and efficiently in River Forest and also works on projects with the Oak Park Community Mental Health Board.  For example, right now we are undertaking a joint Community Health Needs Assessment.

This system functions very well.  We work well with Oak Park Township. The Township also works with other partners in our community.  We try and find others who can provide services to River Forest at no or low cost, and we in return provide outreach and space for them.

What are the other important issues facing township government in the coming years and how would you like to see the township board address them?

Residents need Township services more and more as they age or as mental health issues increase or as they have increased financial needs.

At the same time, the Township’s revenue increases by less than 1% each year. So our budget over time will be stressed.

The Board always has to evaluate programs and decide if we are meeting residents’ needs and if the programs are delivering as promised. We also have to keep figuring out what people need. Finally, we have to keep letting people know what we are doing and that we are doing a good job with their tax dollars.

We collaborate with many organizations and groups; we need to keep doing that and be ready to seek out and build new relationships.

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