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updated: 2/22/2013 6:01 PM

Thomas Armstrong: Candidate Profile

Elgin City Council (4-year Terms) (Republican)

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  • Thomas Armstrong, running for Elgin City Council (4-year Terms)

      Thomas Armstrong, running for Elgin City Council (4-year Terms)

 

 

 

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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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Elgin

Website: http://www.armstrongforelgin.com (under construction)

Office sought: Elgin City Council (4-year Terms)

Age: 57

Family: Divorced, two adult children: Kelsey (23), Patrick (20)

Occupation: Retired Elgin City Planner

Education: Bachelor of Science in Urban Economic Geography, Northern Illinois University, 1980

Civic involvement: Current: Elgin Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Chair Elgin Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Member Elgin Sustainability Action Plan/Urban Design Work Group, Chair Elgin Community Network, President Downtown Neighborhood Association Design Committee, Chair Shoe Factory Condominium Association, President I am a regular volunteer for NeighborWorks Day, Gifford Park Association Historic House Walk, Homes for the Holidays, YWCA Y-Walk Y-Ride, and the U-46 Science Fair. Past volunteer activities have included: Fox Valley Land Foundation (Board Member, President), Hispanic Heritage Coalition (Board Member, Secretary), Downtown Neighborhood Association (Board Member), Kane County Fit for Kids/Mobility Task Force (Co-Chair), United Way of Elgin, and the Larkin Home Sweetheart Auction and PADS Dancing with the Stars fundraisers.

Elected offices held: None

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

My number 1 campaign issue is growing local business. We need to make it inviting for entrepreneurs to open businesses in Elgin. It is well documented in study after study that locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, supporting a wide range of jobs and enriching the whole community. Investing in locally owned businesses is a cost-effective way to grow Elgin's economy. The City can stimulate wealth creation and retention by developing a coordinated strategy that focuses on local business growth, including incentives, risk mitigation, and improved service delivery.

Key Issue 2

My number 2 campaign issue is maintaining and improving our neighborhoods. We need to stay on top of neighborhood issues related to foreclosures, continue to require basic property maintenance, and encourage neighborhood investment. We need to work to engage our neighborhood residents in the affairs of their neighborhood and in those of the greater Elgin community. We can work towards these goals by 1) Working to increase the number and diversity of people who are involved and volunteer in their neighborhood, 2) Strengthening neighborhood and community capacity to build identity, skills, relationships and partnerships, 3) Increasing community and neighborhood impact on public decisions. and 4) Providing tools and resources to improve neighborhood and community livability and safety.

Key Issue 3

My number 3 campaign issue concerns the long-term vision for growth and development in Elgin. The City will undertake a revision to the comprehensive plan this year. What do we want Elgin to look like in 20 years? How can we encourage investment and land use change that will result in more livable neighborhoods ... both in the established areas of the community and in the growth areas on the fringe. Elgin benefits from its location in the greater Chicago metropolitan area, a proud history, outstanding natural resources, and opportunities for growth. How do we capitalize on these advantages?

Questions & Answers

Should the city continue its opposition to allowing video gambling outside the grand Victoria?

The Elgin City Council voted to allow video gambling outside the Grand Victoria Casino at the January 23rd Committee of the Whole meeting. Final ordinances should be acted upon at a regular City Council meeting in February. I support the vote to allow video gambling outside the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin.

What is your position on the city's plans to to implement a stormwater utility fee in 2014?

The Elgin City Council approved a study which will identify funding options to address the maintenance and repair of the stormwater management system, including separating the combined sewer systems, maintaining stormwater detention basins and storm sewer pipe, and meeting mandates from the IEPA and EPA concerning stormwater management regulations. There is no question that the stormwater management system needs to be maintained, just as sanitary sewer and water systems and streets must be maintained. The results of the study will identify a scope and cost of this effort, and suggest funding options. I support maintaining basic community infrastructure. Whether or not a stormwater utility fee is the best method to fund maintenance and repair of the stormwater management system will be determined. My desire would be for the community to be fully informed and engaged in this major policy decision.

Do you support the city funding the $900,000 overhaul of the Eastside Recreation Center? What do you think of closing Eastside and consolidating operations with The Centre of Elgin?

It is unfortunate that overhauls of this scope were necessary. However, every time I have been in this facility it has been bursting at the seams with activity. In view of the commitment made to overhaul the building, I would not be in favor of closing the facility. I don't believe there is space available in The Centre of Elgin to consolidate programs now offered in the two buildings.

What is your view on the city's recent property tax levying history and imposition of other charges, such as the refuse fee?

I support the City Council's commitment to lowering the tax levy - 25% by the year 2014, and their decision to diversify the revenue stream to lessen dependence on property tax. In my view, recent budgets have done a good job of balancing the economic realities of difficult times with the need to maintain core services. But budget decisions shouldn't be boiled down to "needs versus wants" like some suggest if we want this community to grow and prosper. We can aspire to be better and I know this community will.

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra wants the city to resume its yearly disbursement of Riverboat funds to the ESO. Do you support this? Why or why not?

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra is a tremendous community asset and I believe that the organization is on the right path to resolving its financial difficulties. I don't believe that the City should resume its yearly disbursement of Riverboat funds to the ESO without a commitment and plan to repay back rent for the use of the Hemmens.

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