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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: Bartlett Village Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, two children.
Occupation: Attorney, private practice with offices located in Downtown Bartlett since 1996
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Criminal Justice, St. Xavier University (1985) The John Marshall Law School (1989)
Civic involvement: Appointed Village Trustee 1994 Elected Trustee 1997-present Commissioner, Village of Bartlett Plan Commission Village Chairman, Planning & Zoning Committee (current) Village Chariman License & Ordinance Committee Village Chairman, Public Works Committee Village Chairman, Finance & Golf Committee President, Neighborhood Homeowner's Association Member, Bartlett Chamber of Commerce Past Member, Bartlett Lions Club Past Volunteer, Bartlett 4th of July Committee Past President, Concerned Residents for Community Schools (CRCS)
Elected offices held: Trustee, Village of Bartlett Appointed 1994, Elected 1997-present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
As a Bartlett Village Board Trustee over the past years, it has been a priority policy for me that we maintain a safe community. This goal has consistently been set forth in our Strategic Plan, which is one of the guiding documents for the Village of Bartlett and its residents. Recently, the Village of Bartlett was ranked as the 4th safest town in the United States and is the only Illinois municipality ranking in the top ten with populations of more than 25,000. In January 2013, the national real estate research firm of NeighborhoodScout (www.neighborhoodscout.com) concluded that if you live in the Village of Bartlett your chance of becoming a victim of crime is 1 in 135, compared to the United States average of 1 in 30. We in the Village of Bartlett should be proud of this ranking and related statistics as we work together in community policing and neighborhood watch efforts. However, and in an ever-changing crime prevention environment that surrounds us, we must remain steadfast in our efforts to maintain a safe community. Therefore, I will support additional police staffing for directed patrol efforts to continue our safe community efforts. The directed patrol teams focus on crime prevention at the neighborhood level, which is necessary to our residents and businesses so that we can continue to rank among the safest communities in the United States.
Key Issue 2
As we continue to weather a bad economy and flat municipal revenue sources, the Village Board must be mindful of maintaining and improving infrastructure (i.e., streets, sidewalks, sewers, water mains/line connections). The Village of Bartlett has approximately 130 streets, 187 water mains, 162 sanitary sewer mains, and 198 storm sewer mains. Although the infrastructure of a Village is not always the most talked about issue due to its lack of sensationalism, I believe that it is critical to, among other things, the prosperity, economic development and overall growth and stabilization of any established municipality. Sound streets, sewers and water delivery systems are the backbone of any community. Thus, I support keeping a constant pulse on the Village's infrastructure, which is sometimes amidst other pressing issues of the Village. For this reason, the Village's Capital Improvements Program, which began in the 1980s, must continue to expand and stay at the forefront of other Village issues. The Village's 5-Year Capital Budget provides for the nuts and bolts of infrastructure improvements. As a current Village Board member, I believe, and will continue to remind others, that the Village of Bartlett's infrastructure is paramount to the strong existence, appeal and financial stability of this municipality. Village residents and businesses count on sound infrastructure, and we, as elected officials, must possess leadership skills and advocate strong policy to maintain and expand the capital assets of the Village.
Key Issue 3
The Town Center located in the Downtown section of Bartlett must be a priority for the Village Board and economic development. There are many businesses that have served as the backbone of the Town Center since the beginning and recently, and I applaud them for their perseverance during these tough economic times. The Village of Bartlett's Town Center, like the town centers of other communities, has not been spared from the economic recession. Also, the original, private owner of the Town Center development experienced financial hardship and has since relinquished property ownership rights. New private ownership has recently entered the Town Center economic development equation. Perhaps new ownership will make a difference relative to competitive rental terms, abatements and concessions for prospective tenants as these issues are not within Village control. For the Village's part, we must work closely with new ownership of the Town Center to understand the changing market conditions, trends and infrastructure needs that may have changed since the time when the Town Center was first developed. As a current Village Board member, and a Downtown Bartlett local business owner since 1996, I know that market conditions, demographics, customer needs and infrastructure requirements change over time-what may have worked 10 years ago, may not work today. We must be open to explore with new ownership and industry experts how to make Town Center more viable so that it can generate greater economic benefits to the Village and its residents.
What can the village do to encourage more development into Bartlett, particularly in the Brewster Creek Business Park?
When the Village Board first approved the Brewster Creek Business Park ("BCBP"), we thoughtfully and carefully planned and zoned a 670-acre former sand and gravel mine. During this process, we were mindful of the balance between commercial development and abutting residential uses. Today, the BCBP provides for buildable sites for 34 buildings, housing over 70 businesses with 1200 + employees. Currently, 217 acres are developed of the 468 total to be developed in the business park. The following large companies, among others, have located to the park: Greco and Sons Foods, Get Fresh Produce and Rana Pasta/Meal Solutions. In order to continue and encourage more development into the BCBP, the Village should work through its Economic Development Coordinator to attract more food-type businesses since the above-mentioned companies have provided a strong foundation for BCBP's emerging food cluster. This development niche could provide great economic benefits for the park and, in turn, the Village and its residents. Other ways to attract development into the BCBP should include an expanded process for fast track/site plan/subdivision review for food-type uses, which will allow new businesses a more expedient approval of their plans. This process is justified for this development due to the very specific zoning and uses that the Village Board prescribed in this I-2 Industrial Overlay District, coupled with the history and experience that the Village has with past approvals of existing food-use businesses. While the Village must continue to aggressively cultivate the BCBP for greater economic benefits, tremendous development has been accomplished to a property that once was a sand and gravel mine pit. This reclaimed property is viewed in the industry as a desirable and affordable location for many users and is one of the gems of Bartlett's economic development, which will grow and become greater over time as economic and real estate conditions improve.
With millions of dollars in budget cuts the last few years, how will you make sure the village continues providing good services to residents?
The Village's Strategic Plan was first drafted in 1994, and I had the opportunity to be a part of the Village Board that created the framework of this document. The Strategic Plan continues to serve as one of the guiding documents of the Village and has consistently contained a goal for the Village to provide high quality, responsive and cost effective Village services. The Village Board continues to focus on this goal today, despite budget cuts the last few years. How does the Village do it? Village Boards that I have been a part of during my tenure as Village Trustee have set policies to create diverse revenues and to instill conservative financial operation with healthy fund balances and reserves. Through this fiscally responsible governance, which I support, the Village of Bartlett was again awarded in 2012 Moody's Investor Services Aa1 bond rating. Only 5% of communities in the United States hold this distinguished rating. In other words, and based on the financial health of the Village, with a balanced budget and proper reserve orrainy day? fund balances, we are able to incur debt, when needed, at a much lower interest rate versus other communities or States that suffer in this area. Similar to a great mortgage interest rate for a homeowner with an excellent credit report, the Village of Bartlett is able to borrow money at a very affordable rate that saves the taxpayers money in the long run. While the Village Board was prepared for the slowdown in revenue due to the economic crisis, it made strategic cuts to our budget expenditures with the continued goal to have the least impact on providing good services to the residents. In line with the Board's conservative, fiscal responsibility, the Village has under-spent the budget by $2 million dollars during the past three fiscal years and is anticipating under-spending this current fiscal year's (2012/13) general fund budget again. This is a testament to all Village Boards and professional staff over the years that understand and support the conservative financial practices and policies of the Village while at the same time understanding the need to deliver good services to its residents. Further, and in order to balance the budget and provide good services to its residents, the Village Board made deferrals of filling staff positions, providing equipment and making certain capital improvements. During the budget review process, it will be important again to look at including these expenditures on an incremental basis with an eye on continuing the goal to provide high quality, responsive and cost effective Village services to residents.
Weigh the value of late liquor licenses to local businesses (4 a.m. in the case of the Cadillac Ranch) against safety concerns. Should 4 a.m. licenses continuie to be permitted? If so, what can be done to curb the number of incidents?
Liquor licenses are critical to certain business establishments and their existence and success. However, the need for 4:00 a.m. liquor licenses, which have caused safety concerns at certain establishments, should be reviewed on a continual and/or annual basis with the Police Department, as well as other Village departments. In these license reviews, it will be important to understand any safety concerns that are prevalent that may dictate rollback or non-renewal of the license. Last year, the Village Board modified the Bartlett Liquor Control Ordinance. The revised Ordinance holds the liquor license holder more accountable for the actions of their patrons. This action shows the Village's constant commitment to the public health, safety and general welfare of its residents. Although 4:00 a.m. liquor licenses cause concern for me as a resident and Village Board member, the licenses, by law, cannot simply be taken away because the Village President, as local Liquor Commissioner, does not like them. Our Village attorney has repeatedly reminded Board members that federal courts have held that a liquor license holder has a vested property right in the liquor license that cannot be taken away without providing due process. During review of the 4:00 a.m. liquor licenses, I would first ask Village staff to negotiate and seek input from Cadillac Ranch for a rollback on the hours of the existing liquor license on a voluntary basis so as to delicately balance the business operations and the public safety concerns. If any further violations of state law or the liquor ordinance occur, I would ask that our Village President, as local Liquor Commissioner, prosecute the license holder and further consider eliminating the 4:00 a.m. liquor license altogether and replacing it with an earlier time liquor license.
Given the delicate balance between the need for revenue and over-taxing local businesses, what is your opinion of Bartlett's present level of local sales taxes? Is the tax just right, too low or too high? Explain.
The Village Board has implemented various policies with the best interest of our local businesses in mind. In this regard, the Village does not have a local sales tax, although many other communities have implemented such a tax. This is a policy decision that has well served our businesses over the years. The Village Board regularly reviews revenue projections. Based on these current projections, I would not support a local sales tax in our upcoming budget. Further, and important to mention, the Village of Bartlett is also sensitive to those businesses that serve food and beverage. The Village of Bartlett does not have a food and beverage tax despite the existence of this tax on local businesses in many other communities.
What are the village's biggest public safety concerns? Explain the concern as you see it, and discuss how you think it should be addressed.
The Village of Bartlett has been ranked as the 4th safest town in the United States and is the only Illinois municipality ranking in the top ten with populations of more than 25,000 (www.neighborhoodscout.com, January 2013). Further, the Village's nationally accredited (for 15 years) police department in 2012 earned gold star status and is a flagship agency mentoring to other departments in the United States pursuant to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Notwithstanding these great accomplishments, which must be applauded, the Village of Bartlett faces the challenge of maintaining an unparalleled safe community under a difficult economy. A safe community is an ever-evolving challenge that must continually be addressed due to changing and unknown factors that can impact any community. As a Village Board, we cannot become complacent when it comes to public safety. As a current Village Trustee, I believe that additional police staffing is prudent to continue our fight against crime. I believe that additional staffing is important to the continued commitment we have to public safety. Therefore, I will support additional officers to continue to focus and fight crime at the neighborhood level. In order to accomplish this task, the Village Board must be creative in allocating resources where they are needed to provide the staff and programming that residents and businesses expect. Another ongoing public safety effort relates to emergency preparedness. I will support more frequent Village emergency preparedness drills so that in the event of a community disaster we are ready. The Village has participated in and implemented these drills and plans in the past, but more frequent and targeted exercises should be a priority. When possible, these drills should be completed in conjunction with other agencies and taxing bodies. Given this inter-governmental approach, the Village will be prepared for disaster.