Jayme Muenz: 2023 candidate for St. Charles City Council Ward 2


Town: St. Charles

Age on Election Day: 49

Occupation: Human Resources professional

Employer: Experian

Previous offices held: My experience includes over 22 years in private sector business working in human resources, supporting a $5B global corporation, to my extensive advocacy, volunteer, board, and appointed work within the St. Charles community. My current roles include: chair of the St. Charles Youth Commission, to which I was appointed by Mayor Rogina in 2017, reappointed in 2022 by Mayor Vitek, and have been elected as chair by the Commissioners for the past three years; co-chair of the Grant Committee of the St. Charles Education Foundation; and vice president of the Fox Chase Boulevard Median Foundation. I have also worked in board and leadership positions including vice president of the St. Charles Girls' Softball Association, Scholarship Committee Chairperson for the St. Charles Women's Club, and held an 18-month appointment on the citizen advisory committee for Fermilab's ILC Commission.


Q: What is the most serious issue your community will face in the coming years and how should the city council respond to it?

A: Many city streets are past their useful life span, and replacement has been deferred over numerous budget cycles in favor of other immediate needs.

Updating our infrastructure, including water mains and sewer lines, concurrent to this road work will likely be necessary, increasing costs.

These investments are necessary for the quality of life and economic vibrancy of our community. There are also areas in which we need to address ongoing flooding issues.

Taking on the backlog of deferred maintenance will take time, and project costs continue to increase. Proactive, strategic support of economic development is critical. We have tremendous opportunity for redevelopment of the Charlestowne Mall and Pheasant Run parcels.

My focus is to ensure we apply the same thoughtful planning and strategy to these projects as we have into redeveloping our downtown area in recent years. Revitalizing our eastern corridor will enhance the look and feel of our community and broaden our tax base.

Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?

A: The City of St. Charles currently holds a Moody's rating of Aa1, with experienced staff managing and executing our fiscal plans. We provide top-notch city services, and maintain those with minimal city-managed utility rate or tax increases year-over-year to taxpayers.

We are a community poised for economic growth, and would benefit from an infusion of sales tax revenue when the eastern gateway development comes to fruition. Like all communities, we balance our future planning against our current budget, and there are projects we must responsibly postpone until the funding is available.

I am interested in learning how the city might be best positioned to take advantage of recently passed federal legislation related to infrastructure and energy efficiency projects, which might provide funding sources for some of the unmet infrastructure needs in our community.

Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?

A: 1.) Continuing our financial track record of fiscal responsibility in paying down existing debt to maintain our excellent credit rating. 2.) Street reconstruction and resurfacing. 3.) Addressing flooding issues in the area near the police department, and completing the 7th Avenue culvert.

Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?

A: There are always opportunities for improvement, and that is an ongoing responsibility of our council to the taxpayers. It is one which I will take seriously by doing thorough research, asking questions, and listening. There are features of our city which differentiate us from our neighbors, making our expenditures greater, but I believe we also provide a higher quality of services that residents have come to expect.

I am not aware of any areas of excess or runaway spending requiring immediate cuts. As an elected member of the council, I would always be willing to listen to constituents and local interests who have concerns about projects that would benefit from greater oversight.

Q: What do you see as the most important infrastructure project the community must address? Why and how should it be paid for? Conversely, during these uncertain economic times, what project(s) can be put on the back burner?

A: Our road reconstruction projects can no longer be deferred; roads planned for a 30-year life span are now on a 50-year replacement cycle due to deferment, along with infrastructure replacement needs. It is an important topic for many residents. We have opportunities to tap into grant funding from Rebuild Illinois for some of these costs. We should explore opportunities for funding under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and any future programs made available.

Additional tax revenue needs to bridge the gap and should be sought through economic development in areas of our city where we have been losing out on this revenue year-over-year. The eastern corridor is ripe for economic development and can be an economically beneficial sector for our city.

I would also want to determine if there has been exploration of potential assistance on planning for green initiatives and energy efficiency in new development projects through the recently enacted federal Inflation Reduction Act.

Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage local government? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions with your city council.

A: Policy is a large portion of my professional world; some policies we have the ability to create or modify, and others are mandated. My professional role in the past five years has included policy administration, and heading an annual policy review committee.

Within that role, I have had the opportunity to work as part of diverse teams to evaluate and affect change to existing policy, as well as develop and implement new policy. In these settings, coming prepared and spending time to think critically through potential impacts are vital.

What really makes these run well and be productive, however, is listening with the intent to understand, and entering with an open mind. This allows for the identification of areas of mutual agreement and consensus building. I believe this is especially important in producing effective actions and decisions within city council, to weigh alternative viewpoints, hear each side of the conversation, and be willing to compromise to achieve common goals.

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

A: I bring new and diverse perspectives to the council, with my willingness and ability to connect with and understand the needs of all residents. I am a critical thinker, and understand the financial and development decisions made by the council have long-term impact on the community. St. Charles is where, 18 years ago, my husband and I planted our roots, chose as our home, and are raising our children. I will be a thoughtful steward of the important responsibility over balancing the excitement of vibrant growth and the preservation of our rich history.

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

A: One area of improvement I believe would benefit every member of our community, regardless of their level of engagement or individual interests, would be further modernization of our IT and communications infrastructure.

Residents who need to interact with the city deserve the capability of doing so simply and easily, consistent with modern private business practices. Opportunities for improved interaction include text and email alert capabilities on a variety of subjects, online access to public records and forms and, the reasonable ability to conduct certain city business online, and providing streamlined access to public meetings via improved video meetings and archived recordings rather than a Zoom to YouTube approach.

Reviews of these interactions along with public input could allow for cost-effective updates and determine which need additional resources. This would immediately improve the way that most citizens interact with the city and provide greater access and transparency.

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