The Wednesday Journal sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Journal’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.
Name: Kathleen “Katie” Brennan
Previous Political Experience: Trustee, Village of River Forest, 2019-present; Chair, Sustainability Commission, Village of River Forest, 2017-2019; Chair/Member, Parks Foundation, River Forest Park District, 2012-2017)
Previous/Current Community Involvement: (see above)
Occupation: Attorney, The Brennan Law Group
Education: B.A. in History, Political Science, Miami University; J.D. Georgetown University Law Center
1. Why are you running for the Village of River Forest board of trustees?
I believe it’s important to have people at the table who represent independent views,
are receptive to other opinions, are willing to do the hard work to understand the issues
and aren’t afraid to speak up. As a resident, that’s the type of Trustee I want.
It’s been an honor to serve as a Village Trustee for the past four years, and I appreciate
the trust that residents have put in me. I’m willing to continue investing my time and
talent in all issues before the Board. This often means being willing to challenge
assumptions and consider different methods than “the way we’ve always done things.”
And it always means treating fellow board members, residents, and Village staff with
respect. This is the type of Trustee I’ve tried to be and will continue to be.
2. What experience and perspectives would you bring to the position and how would they be valuable as an elected official?
First, I’m willing to respectfully discuss issues and take other’s opinions into
consideration. My professional experience on a legal mediation task force helps me
look at issues independently, consider different points of view, and work to find
compromise solutions to get the job done.
Second, I bring experience and passion for addressing sustainability and equity issues
head-on to the Board. I worked to create our first Sustainability Commission in 2017 and as its first Chair, I prioritized bringing practical options for residents to live more sustainably. I proposed creating a resident commission on equity issues in 2020, resulting in our first DEI Advisory Group. I view every issue that comes before the Board through a sustainability and equity lens.
3. What do you believe are some of the greatest challenges facing the village?
Our Village’s stated priorities are community safety, controlling property taxes and
retaining property values. As a resident, parent, homeowner, and small business owner,
these values are crucial to me personally too. I think the Village does a good job with
Where the Village faces greater challenges is in attracting new and keeping existing
businesses and offering more affordable housing options.
Economic Development: Several TIF business districts in River Forest are
underperforming. We need to bring in businesses that enhance quality of life, add
commercial vibrancy, and help reduce residential property taxes. Part of the job is being
a reliable partner to developers, which may mean taking a hard look at zoning laws and
whether they enable us to competitively attract business. We also need to ensure that
developers and contractors are reliable partners and respectful of our residents, and we
need to balance the needs and wishes of the Village as a whole with those residents
who live closest to these commercial areas.
Affordable Housing: Our Village has few moderately-priced housing options. This can
make it difficult for residents to age in place, and for families and individuals who are
not wealthy to relocate here. Affordable housing done well can actually increase
property values in neighborhoods like River Forest. In 2020, the Village adopted the
structure of an Affordable Housing Plan, within days of a state-mandated deadline.
However, the Plan is not strong, and the policies required to support even this bare
minimum Plan haven’t been enacted. We can do better on affordable housing.