Martha Paschke: 2023 candidate for Geneva City Council, 4th Ward


Town: Geneva

Age on Election Day: 44

Occupation: Program coordinator

Employer: Kane County state's attorney's office

Previous offices held: N/A


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: Geneva was recently named one of the "15 Most Beautiful Towns in America" by World Atlas, and I couldn't agree more with their assessment. A challenge Geneva faces is maintaining our unique charm while simultaneously growing and developing as a 21st-century city.

As one of the key stewards of Geneva's past, present, and future, alongside partners in the park and school districts, and Geneva Public Library, the city council has the responsibility to preserve core values while also keeping an eye to the future. This takes many shapes, including business development, retail and tourism, affordability and access to housing, and infrastructure maintenance.

Balancing preservation and growth in those key areas will be significant issues facing our city council in the years to come. With community input, research and development, and continued education on the issues, the city council will be well-poised to maintain this balance, and I look forward to being among those tasked with this responsibility.

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

A: I believe that the City of Geneva has a strong history of being good stewards of taxpayers' funds through careful and intentional spending. Taxes always feel like a lot, but considering that less than 10% of the total goes to the city, I believe that we receive excellent services in exchange.

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

A: Addressing and improving drainage - our city currently lacks proper stormwater drainage infrastructure. Addressing this would relieve headaches for many residents and prevent potential damage to homes, yards, and businesses.

Development of Southeast Industrial Park - having been a part of the city's plans for around 10 years, this development area would provide a good tax base increase as well as jobs.

Improving climate resilience - a range of things can be considered to address this, from porous surfaces and natural areas to help with drainage and runoff to increasing the use of renewable energy and electric vehicles, and addressing the energy efficiency of buildings. With Mayor Burns serving as the chair for the environment committee of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Geneva is well situated to be a leader in addressing the local impacts of climate change.

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

A: Looking over the draft budget for 2024, I do not see areas where spending could be curtailed without being detrimental to providing services to Geneva's residents.

Q: What do you see as the most important infrastructure project you 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: Since it is a matter that affects people across the city and is such a large project, I'd have to say the stormwater drainage system is likely the most important infrastructure project that needs to be addressed.

With the 2021 Comprehensive Drainage Study in hand, the city council will soon be weighing how to act on its recommendations. The large amount of work being recommended would likely need to be funded by way of a user fee or a tax established based on assessed value. Most likely the latter, but I'd want to know what city staff would recommend based on their expertise before answering that decisively.

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: In my current position as coordinator of Kane County's Collaborative Diversion initiative, I've had the opportunity to develop policies on a regular basis over the past two years. I've found that good policy includes many perspectives and requires a good amount of respectful conversation. It's when a perspective is missing that policy falls apart and fails the very people it was intended to serve. I believe that the experience I've gained through working with a variety of people and organizations in determining policies will prove beneficial should I have the privilege of serving as alderperson for Ward 4.

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

A: I've been lucky to call Geneva home for over 20 years and I'm eager to give back to my community. I'm committed to serving my community, having served as secretary on the Geneva Library Foundation board for the past seven years, on the Family Service Association board for the past two years, being a founding member of Belong: Fox Valley, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action, serving on the Mission Committee at Fox Valley Presbyterian Church, and a former Girl Scout leader.

I pride myself on being responsive and showing up when I'm needed, and I care about issues that affect my community and my neighbors. I also believe that my curiosity about the world is also beneficial. I want to understand not only the issues themselves, but other people's perspectives about them as well.

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

A: I love the idea of creating opportunities for diverse interaction in our community. Whether it is intergenerational (doing senior citizens' yard work for PE class), or cross-cultural (incorporating the celebration of more of the cultures represented in Geneva during Swedish Days), or any other type of activity that would bring people together intentionally and harness the welcoming spirit of our charming hometown.

If I may sneak in one more good idea, it would be ranked choice voting. Having recently been enacted in Evanston and Berwyn, it is growing in popularity, and is a great way to heal the tension and division that has become far too prevalent in even our local politics of late.

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