Sugar Grove board candidates talk business, accessibility
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Five candidates are seeking three 4-year terms on the Sugar Grove village board.
Trustees Rick Montalto and Robert Bohler are joined by challengers Sean Herron, Gayle Deja-Schultz and Stephanie Landorf.
Deja-Schultz cites her business experience, including directing special events for the Epilepsy Foundation, and her interest in projects for senior citizens.
Herron cited his 10 years spent in the Army; writing business plans for stores when he was an account manager ("so I can translate and read them"); and being a teacher at Kaneland High School, which is collaborative. "Teamwork is important for this position," he said.
Landorf said she wants "open, honest and accessible government," including televising village board meetings on the village's website.
Montalto said when he ran four years ago he wanted to improve the water system, fix drainage in the Mallard Point subdivision and improve sidewalks. "I am happy to say I believe (the) current village board has accomplished these issues and many more, during some of the most challenging economic times we have ever seen," he said.
All agreed the biggest issue facing the village is getting businesses to build or move to the community.
"I want responsible growth, and businesses that are good for our community," Deja-Schultz said.
Bohler does not favor reducing impact fees, though, to attract developers. He said doing so shifts the burden of paying for service to those sites to future residents.
Montalto said the village already is trying to attract business, including reducing impact fees. "The problem is we are in tough economic times. Not all these companies want to pull the trigger on things," he said.
Bohler said one problem may be the rents being charged for stores; he said it is comparable to that being charged in Naperville, putting the village at a disadvantage with closer towns.
Deja-Schultz said building senior housing would then attract businesses residents would patronize.
Landorf suggested the village needs to better publicize itself.
Widening Route 47 and building a full interchange at Interstate 88 would help, according to Montalto. "When the economy changes, you are going to see things explode," he said.
Herron agreed, and said the village should prepare, perhaps setting up information and application packets with the village's expectations for various types of developments, to streamline the process.
Montalto disagreed that the government is not open, honest or accessible, pointing out board agendas, and links to memos on its topics, are posted on the village website four days before meetings.
And Bohler questioned spending money to webcast meetings, saying Yorkville does so but has not had more than 36 hits per month on the videos.
"It is expensive. I would like to see our dollars go elsewhere," he said. Meeting minutes and his phone number are on the website and the president has a quarterly open house. "We are accountable, we are available, you just have to use the resources," he said.
Herron also said better communication is needed. "When people decide to come to a board meeting they are at their wit's end. They come angry," he said.
He noted a report on the village's finances, while available, was 157 pages long. "It's impossible for normal people to understand. Break it down to a five-page document," he said.
Schultz said it can be intimidating to stand before the board asking questions. She suggested allowing people to submit them online.
All candidates said they would support whatever residents decide in the April 9 advisory vote on allowing video gambling. "I wasn't exactly thrilled the board decided to approve it before the residents' vote," Landorf said.
Bohler said, however, that trustees are elected "to make some important decisions for you. If we go to referendum over every issue, we wouldn't make a decision for two years."
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