Jeff J. Pruyn: 2021 candidate for Itasca village president

In the race for Itasca village president, incumbent Jeff Pruyn is running for a fourth term against challenger Thomas Pawlicki in the April 6 election.

The Daily Herald asked the candidates several questions about issues facing the village.

Below are Pruyn's responses.

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City: Itasca

Age: 56

Occupation: CPA at Anthes, Pruyn and Associates, Ltd.

Civic involvement: Itasca Plan Commissioner, 1993-1995; Itasca Village Trustee, 1995-2009; and Itasca Village President, 2009-present


Q: How do you view your role in confronting the pandemic: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents - even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state and federal authorities?

A: Provide leadership even if unpopular

Q: Did your town continue to adequately serve its constituents during the disruptions caused by the pandemic? If so, please cite an example of how it successfully adjusted to providing services. If not, please cite a specific example of what could have been done better.

A: I believe we went above and beyond in order to continuously serve the public during the pandemic. We were one of the first communities to reopen village hall after the governor's stay-at-home order ended and have remained open since.

Q: In light of our experiences with COVID-19, what safeguards/guidelines should you put in place to address any future public health crises?

A: We have established new protocols to allow government officials, commission and staff to meet and perform essential functions remotely when needed.

Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?

A: We managed our finances conservatively in order to build adequate reserves to maintain and increase service levels during crises. For example, we provide $200 in Itasca bucks to each household to be spent at local restaurants. This program generated over a half-million dollars of restaurant sales during the pandemic.

Q: What do you see as the most important infrastructure project you must address? Why and how should it be paid for? What infrastructure project can be put on the back burner?

A: During these times we have cut our capital spending to essential projects. For example, street resurfacing instead of reconstruction and projects to maintain safe drinking water and reduce flooding in people's homes.

Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?

A: We have been investigating on a compliant basis and have received very few complaints.

Q: Do you agree or disagree with the stance your board has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?

A: I agree with the board's position.

Q: Describe your leadership style and explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions with your village board or city council.

A: I have a collaborative leadership style. I encourage and listen to all opinions on an issue. I believe this leads to comprises on issues and ensures all pros and cons are considered.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: At times such as these experience matters. I took over during the Great Recession and led the village during those difficult financial years and have also led the community during a natural disaster and now the pandemic. The experience and relationships I have developed over the years are invaluable in leading the village through the uncertainty we are facing.

Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?

A: I am proud that several communities have adopted our Itasca Bucks model to assist residents and our business community during these difficult times. Additionally, while we have been known for our large special events, this summer we are developing ways to have multiple small gatherings to encourage our residents to enjoy summer gathering in a safe manner. We are in the early stages of developing a program to encourage entrepreneurship in the village.

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