Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: Naperville City Council (2-year Terms)
Family: Wife, Elizabeth, two children
Occupation: Special Education Assistant, District 203
Education: Bachelor of Science, Communications, Point Loma Nazarene University
Civic involvement: Naperville Transportation Advisory Board (current)
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Transparency. The City Council needs to increase the limits on time allowed for opinions to be shared at Council meetings and stop interrupting people. We need to leverage social media to survey citizens more proactively about major decisions and budget decisions and impacts need to be articulated in a very clear way. Notes on the Naperville City website are not enough to bring our citizens information and involved about City Council decisions that impact them.
Key Issue 2
Your questions already asked about downtown, but what about the rest of Naperville? We need to continue the beautification efforts on Ogden Avenue and try to fill vacancies there and throughout business corridors. With major national retailers like Kmart and Barnes & Noble announcing store closures, we need to come up with plans with other growing chains and independent business owners to attract them to Naperville and fill those locations. We should provide tax incentives wherever possible for these businesses, like we did with Wal-Mart, instead of trying to spend tax dollars on things like electric car charging stations and bus depots.
Key Issue 3
My third issue is not new parking and transportation in downtown Naperville is a major problem. The half-finished complex on Van Buren and the pending decisions on Water Street need to be balanced with a new plan to address congestion across the board. The counters in the parking lots are not enough we need to consider pedestrian walkways, better intercity trolleys, and one way streets through downtown.
There are increasing concerns about safety in downtown Naperville, especially on weekend nights. Is the city doing enough to promote downtown safety and, if not, what other steps should it take?
The increased media attention over incidents in and around the bars in Naperville is disconcerting. I asked people in my neighborhood the question if they felt safe downtown, and the answer was unequivocally YES. A few bad apples do not ruin a city. The Naperville Police are doing a fantastic job addressing issues. The Liquor Board needs to reconsider the legal serving times for alcohol and be firm with those establishments that see repeated incidents of over serving or customer violence. This includes earlier close times and revocation of liquor licenses from establishments as penalties. Naperville can be a destination location; I fully support nightlife to support that vision.
What is your vision for the continued development of downtown? Are there types of businesses you would like to see in the central business district or other parts of the city?
The growth and maintenance of the central business district is important to Naperville. Growth needs to consider the heritage and small town feel that draws so many visitors here, while considering the future of the workforce in our City. Before we add anything, we need to address the traffic and parking concerns of the current establishments. The parking garage on Van Buren Ave needs to be completed. We need businesses that provide jobs for residents, as such we need to continue courting large employers who are seeking new headquarter or local satellite office locations. Working with the State, we need to provide a community workers want to move with their families, with shorter and easier commutes, a strong talent base, and a tax climate that makes it an appealing place to do business, large and small. We need to explore Metra to downtown Naperville transportation link, such as a weekend trolley, to encourage tourism. We need to ensure the hotels on Diehl are considered as we consider what we build in Naperville. Water Street is a great debate I believe we need to upgrade that area, but I do not support tall buildings that perpetually shade our fantastic River walk or hotels that will take business from established and new hotels we already support. I believe a boutique hotel or another bed and breakfast would be a wonderful addition while still supporting a vision of a small town with city amenities, as would smaller footprint chain retailers who have the financial backing to weather economic storms and bring business that also supports the local, independent shops we all love.
Has Naperville's image gotten better or worse over the past four years? What are two things the city needs to do better?
It's gotten worse. When we moved here three years ago, Naperville was a crown jewel suburb. Now, we have arrest of citizens at direction of government agencies, blatant disregard of citizen opinion and continuedbad press? for incidents downtown and heroin use in our community. We need to get back to what Naperville is about community, family and a great place to live. Our media agencies needs to focus on all the good work we are doing to keep our kids safe, and that should be the focus of our concerns first. We also need to highlight the fantastic work within the community agencies that serve greatly during these harsh economic times. We need a City Council who is transparent and doesn't dismiss citizens even when they disagree. We need to address the traffic and parking, so visitors can fall in love with Naperville just as I did. We are making moves in the right direction in the demolition of the eyesore on Washington St. and working on additions to the River walk. We need to reconsider the Smart Meter initiative; we clearly have not done the change management and communication works to ensure citizens are comfortable with the project. Those of us that have smart meters have yet to see a dashboard or ability to use and monitor energy, so we have yet to see any benefit to the devices..
In these tight economic times, municipal budgets have to be prioritized. Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed, and conversely, are there areas the budget does not give enough money to?
As long as the City of Naperville has outstanding debt we will never have a surplus or a true handle on our budget, and we can never rest. We should look very closely at the sacred cows, like the SECA fund. Unfortunately, it is time to make some tough decisions on events that truly are an asset to the City versus funding events just because we have done so in years past. Many of these events are no longer local community building opportunities, and should be self funding. There are many smaller opportunities where community services can be run more efficiently with minimal citizen impact. One example is leaf pickup services. Free bags during fall months would be sufficient; we should eliminate loose leaf pickup which causes ongoing drain cleaning as well as the cost for the actual pickup. There are opportunities to limit these services while we pay off the debt; we can always add services back when our state is solvent. I?d rather focus our funds on activities that support our future, ensuring school and community services are fully supported.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A monorail around the city? Kidding. We need to address the issues we have today, cleaning the Smart Meter debacle up, finalizing theat large? and district question, reducing our city's debt, and allowing people to get to and through our business corridors safely and swiftly. A zero based and balanced budget is a great idea, one where we could be an example for our poorly run state.