Too close for clarity

Viewing the world through a partisan lens often leads to inaccuracies. That was the case with recent comments by Jill Brickman's opponent for Township Supervisor.

Here are some facts about what Northfield Township government has done:

In addition to operating its award-winning food pantry, Northfield Township provides numerous public assistance programs, including emergency and general financial assistance, a subsidized taxi program, and help obtaining energy assistance. Putting aside the two road district funds and the special police fund, we oversee two funds that offer residents services: the Town fund and the General Assistance fund. The General Assistance fund was budgeted to spend nearly $1.32 per property tax dollar collected on administering financial support to our residents in need. The Town fund offers a myriad services to residents - part of the Town fund goes to compensation for our hardworking employees - but also issues human services grants each year. This year, in addition to the $200,000 we allocated for human service organization, we set a special distribution of $150,000 for mental health services. Our local organizations requested $338,000 from Northfield Township and we were able to provide $350,000. The numbers being bandied about by others are mythical and fail to consider all of the services provided to residents.

The township works closely with other social service providers, schools, units of government, the faith community and even an eyeglass retailer to identify, reach out to and obtain help for residents in need. We have built these relationships and we collaborate with these organizations because we saw the need and they are now key to our community's effectiveness in providing support to people at critical times in their lives and are a testament to the cooperative nature found in Northfield Township.

Services offered at the township go well beyond the extensive monetary help. In fact, our entire operation is focused on service. But simply considering direct aid and the provision of real estate tax assessment guidance, approximately half of every tax dollar goes directly to service. Of course, a realistic analysis would also account for much of the personnel cost involved in operating those programs, which require participation from the rest of the township staff. Such an accounting drives the number much higher and speaks to the commitment we have to serving all residents.

Our opponent claims the Food Pantry solicited a large donation from a municipality to finance the purchase of a truck. This is false. On May 30, 2020, the township received an unsolicited email from Northbrook's Village President asking how we'd use $10,000, $20,0000 or $30,000, which would come from donations, not tax dollars. At no point did we approach any municipality for funding. In fact, we chose not to apply for any funding that would come from municipal tax dollars. At this same time, the Food Pantry was receiving an unprecedented and heartwarming show of support from our community as donations increased sixfold. Rather than sending out an annual appeal, as is customary for nonprofits, this year we sent a thank-you letter to our generous and committed supporters. As a result of what's come in, we have been able to serve 50 percent more people this year and give all of them more food and grocery gift cards than ever before, and we have ample reserves to handle the increased demand in the near future even if charitable giving ebbs.

We are running for reelection on a slate that includes members of both political parties. While this is a partisan election, and we are running as Republicans, we are proud that the Township office is completely depoliticized. We are people of goodwill who ask questions and gather information prior to lobbing accusations. It saddens us to see the nasty rhetoric and ugly approach of some national politics being used in a local election, particularly by someone who has been a member of the township board and in fact voted for each and every one of the budgets she is now questioning. Where was our opponent's leadership when she could have asked about, made recommendations for, objected to, or even commented on the amounts, where they came from, or how they could be applied differently? A trustee who has withheld her opinions and suggestions during her term as trustee has not demonstrated the leadership necessary to serve as Township Supervisor, who is responsible for the effective provision of services. The duplicity of her actions then and comments now is hard to swallow and we think all voters should question it as well.

We ask for your support and your vote to keep Northfield Township in a good position to continue the important work of serving our residents in a fair, efficient and compassionate manner.

Dan Barrett, Jill Brickman and Melanie Peterson

Northfield Township

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