Alberta Adamson: Candidate Profile
Wheaton City Council North District (4-year Term) (Republican)
Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: Wheaton City Council North District (4-year Term)
Family: Married, two daughters, and five grandchildren who all live in Wheaton
Occupation: President & CEO, Wheaton Historic Preservation Council/Center for History
Education: BA - Museum Management, DePaul University 1992
Civic involvement: Wheaton Chamber of Commerce and former Board Member; founding member of Wheaton Historic Preservation Council, Longfellow PTA, Wheaton North Advisory, Wheaton Juniors Woman's Club, Chair Wheaton Sesquicentennial Celebration 1987-88 (founding of Wheaton), History Chair Wheaton Sesquicentennial 2008-09 (incorporation of Wheaton), Wheaton Historic Commission, Illinois State Historical Society Board, American Association for State and Local History Board, Rotary Club of Wheaton Service Above Self Award for Outstanding Service to the Community, Masons-Wheaton Lodge No. 269 Community Builders Award, WHPC Award, Chamber Ambassador of the Year Award, Wheaton Good Citizen Award, Illinois State Historical Society Lifetime Achievement Award, and recently the Ron Brinkman Award from the Chamber of Commerce.
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
A strong Economic Development plan is essential to the livelihood of Wheaton. It is the road map to increasing sales tax revenue. The City of Wheaton hired Design Workshop to conduct a market study for downtown Wheaton. However, a comprehensive economic development plan should incorporate the entire city, rather than focusing on pockets of the city. Nevertheless, this is an excellent start and includes comparisons from Danada and nearby towns. The Wheaton Downtown Strategic and Streetscape Plan provides a foundation for moving forward to create a vision and viable economic plan. The strengths, such as essential businesses and cultural activities which already exist, should not be overlooked. Securing new businesses to fill empty storefronts and pockets of land on the south side of the tracks must be a priority. It has been said the Mariano's development at Main and Roosevelt will serve as the gateway to Wheaton. That will happen only if the gateway goes more than a block or two. Wheaton needs to generate an atmosphere filled with shops, restaurants, and attractions that entice people to shop, visit, and dine. At the same, time bridging the gap between Roosevelt Road and the business district north of the railroad tracks is essential for the vibrancy of the downtown. A complete package has to be initiated and implemented on the long term basis. Economic development means partnerships with organizations, businesses, and citizens. Using a theme such as Historic Wheaton without promoting why it is historic is only part of thesell?. Wheaton has much to offer. It now needs to be bundled andsold?.
Key Issue 2
New sources of revenue generated by tourism. Tourism means visiting places of interest. It is not reliant on a week's stay somewhere. Look across the country at thriving places like Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans, New York, and our neighbor to the east, Chicago. The common thread is cultural, architectural and historic attractions from bus tours and museums to theaters and concerts. These cities understand the economic benefit of promoting its resources to the public. Naperville, Elmhurst, Geneva, and Arlington Heights are a few area communities that have instituted their own visitors bureau as part of their economic development plan. Wheaton is fortunate to have a collection of cultural sites that attract visitors. However, these sites are marketing independently of Wheaton. Wheaton should create its own visitors bureau and promote the cultural, architectural and historic attractions along with the strengths of the business district. Implementation of short and long term tourism/destination goals will increase tax revenue. Wheaton's new study, Wheaton Downtown Strategic and Streetscape Plan, is a great start. However, as stated at the City Council meeting on January 28, 2013, the city has not always followed through on suggestions of previous plans. Thus, progress has been limited. The city must be actively involved in the recruit of businesses and the promotion of it's business and cultural assets. It should not rely on the Chamber of Commerce or the Wheaton Downtown Association. Rather, it should work harmoniously with these organizations, businesses and cultural institutions. Sources for new revenue should be investigated. Without a hotel Wheaton obviously does not receive any money from the hotel- motel tax. Perhaps a zoning change to allow for Bed & Breakfasts would be plausible. There are numerous vintage homes that could be converted to a B&B. (This might also help retirees to stay in Wheaton). The above report suggests the need for a small hotel. Wheaton College has a steady stream of visitors looking for accommodations. Many of the homes that could be converted into a B & B are within walking distance of the College. Galena, Illinois is a small town with over fifty B&Bs. Visitors flock to the town year round to enjoy its history, quaint shops and restaurants. Promoting our cultural assets and packaging tours with events in Wheaton could offer attractive get-aways. Another possible source of revenue would be implementing a food and beverage tax. Elmhurst and Naperville are two local towns reaping the benefits from this tax. Chicago is a large city that has instituted this tax. Consumers go to restaurants for their food and entertainment and rarely notice the tax rate. I have talked with numerous individuals about his concept and all were in favor. Additionally, they admit they frequented Naperville's restaurants without any thought of being charged this tax. The community receives the entire amount and can be used for promoting the city, establishing cultural venues, and hosting events.
Key Issue 3
Flooding has been an ongoing concern for many years in Wheaton. Anyone who has lived in Wheaton knows north and south Main Street gets covered by water more than once a year. Rectifying the inadequate flood control and related sewer systems impacting homeowners and businesses is part of the city's strategic plan. The reasons for flooding are numerous and the solutions are complicated but have been identified. The city is working to continue with its strategic plan to implement the necessary changes to alleviate the problem and the inconveniences it causes to its citizens. However, the annual allocation of funds toward the solution has not been sufficient and should be increased for timely resolution.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
As a resident who has lived and worked in Wheaton for thirty-four years, I have devoted my professional life to Wheaton through my job and as a volunteer for many organizations and schools. I have utilized my management skills as the director/president of the Wheaton Historic Preservation Council/Center for History from the business end to providing services to the public. Being in charge of a not-for-profit organization means I am responsible for all aspects of the museum and education center. Creating budgets, fundraising, public relations, research, marketing, preservation of historic materials and objects, and education programs are routine tasks. My strengths are maintaining relationships with staff and volunteers, working within the government systems, and the ability to look broadly at issues or projects for the benefit of the community. I am conscientious, budget thrifty and continually look for ways to advance the mission. My passion for a better Wheaton has occupied my thoughts even when I travel. I look at how other communities are performing and how this could be adapted and incorporated for Wheaton. The Center attracts visitors from around the world and has received forty-seven awards from local, state, and national organizations for excellence in its field. I always look at both sides of an issue or idea by listening to others and researching the topics so an educated decision can be made fairly and equitably. Regardless of the subject, all elected officials and commission appointees have an obligation to investigate and review all sides of an issue. They are responsible for disseminating the information to the public honestly and without prejudice. Then put aside personal bias and focus on what is best for the community when making a decision on behalf of the citizens. That is an ethical and honest value which I cherish and follow. Even when challenged, my consistent advocacy for Wheaton has not wavered in my thirty-four years here. My husband, Dennis and I have raised our two daughters in Wheaton. Now our daughters and their husbands are raising our five grandchildren here ranging in age from fourteen to two. Needless to say, we have made a personal investment in Wheaton and care for the present and future of our city. I am an informed and involved citizen and the best candidate for the City Council. Whether the discussion is regarding the city's flooding problems, traffic flow issues, budget, or site development, I pledge to thoroughly research and formulate an unbiased solution that will be in the best interest for the community.
Given the delicate balance between the need for revenue and over-taxing local businesses, what is your opinion of your community's present level of local sales taxes? Is the tax just right, too low or too high? Explain.
The tax rate is in-line with neighboring communities and seems fair The sales tax rate in Wheaton is .0825% which is distributed to the state (.0625%), county (.0025%) and city (.0175%). Portions of the tax revenue go to RTA and DuPage Water Commission. Businesses are basically the mechanism for the transfer of the funds since the fees do not add additional expense to the businesses. In comparison, Glen Ellyn is the same while Warrenville is higher at .085%. Additionally, businesses as well as residents pay taxes to utility companies, ranging from .03% to .07%. Going further into property taxes, municipalities often get a bad rap for high taxes. In Wheaton, District 200 collects the highest amount which is about 47% higher than the city. Wheaton Park District is roughly 30% lower than the city. Interestingly, the DuPage County Forest Preserve portion is higher than the County government and both are lower than COD.
Talking with your friends and neighbors, what seems to be their biggest public safety concern? Explain the concern as you see it, and discuss how you think it should be addressed.
There are varying opinions depending on where people live. For instance, speeding on Harrison Street was mentioned along with traffic congestion caused by the numerous trains running through town. Mentioned were possible traffic problems that could arise when the apartments on Wesley and Mariano's are completed. To alleviate any traffic issues with the new development projects, consideration for safety and traffic flow must be addressed before completion. The more pressing issues were the coyote population and drug and alcohol use by high school students. Concern with coyotes running rampant is certainly a safety matter for children and pets. The City has implemented and disseminated a plan to discourage their presence including calling 9-1-1 if a coyote is acting in a threatening manner. The Police Department works with the high schools regarding drug and alcohol abuse. Parents need to become involved and informed about the signs of such abuse and discuss their concern with their children. Parents and the public should take advantage of the programs the police department offers such as the one held on February 5th concerning herion in the suburbs.
In these tight economic times, municipal budgets have to be prioritized. Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed, and conversely, are there areas the budget does not give enough money to?
Working for a not-for-profit has equipped me with the skill to reduce expenses without compromising services or staff. With a city budget around $85 million, I am sure there are ways some expenses can be reduced. The city has been conscientious but alternative program and service costs should be investigated. Sometimes working in a different manner or using similar products can save money. These dollars could then be reallocated. Two areas I feel that are not funded for the betterment of the community include implementing flooding solutions, and preserving and promoting Wheaton's cultural and historic assets. The first contributes to a more tangible project while the second is the foundation for tourism which generate sales tax revenue. In the Wheaton Downtown Strategic and Streetscape Plan report, dated January 2013, the consultants reviewed the positive initiatives Naperville, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Geneva, and Arlington Heights have taken. These include creating a mix of cultural, civic, historic, and business options for the consumer. The Downers Grove Historical Society was invited to take an active role in the selection of materials for renovations to replicate the buildings which dated back to the late 1800s. In Naperville, history and cultural activities play important roles in its success. The report mentions the Riverwalk, Naper Settlement, Millennium Carillon, North Central College, and the DuPage Children's Museum. Geneva has preserved its historic essence? and benefitted from itsvibrant arts and cultural offerings?. The study also mentions how Geneva's plan calls for adaptive reuse of existing buildings Naperville, and Elmhurst have invested in their community by forming their own tourism bureaus and funding their historical museums. Elmhurst's museum budget for 2012-13 is $786,710, and Naperville allocates about $2.75 million annually to Naper Settlement. I point out these examples to illustrate the need for Wheaton to invest in its history so it can serve as a magnet to attract visitors to Wheaton. Supporting the Wheaton Historic Preservation Council/Center for History is an investment for the community. Besides being a destination, the museum preserves Wheaton artifacts and archival materials and shares the city's history with the public through education programs and exhibits. The investment is minuscule in comparison to the city's budget and benefits returned to the community.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Urge particular restaurants, to recycle plastic, glass and cardboard. Most businesses do not have the vehicles in place to dispose of these materials in accordance to environmental protocol. Solutions should be investigated and implemented. It seems the first step would be to find a location for the receptacles and then train staff to utilize the bins. The second is to adaptively reuse buildings rather than tear them down. The Wheaton Grand Theatre is an example of a team working to reuse a building and create a live performance venue. The Theater will serve as an economic generator by becoming a destination while preserving a national landmark. Preserving the Wheaton Grand is also part of the Wheaton Downtown Strategic and Streetscape Plan.