Anthony Ortiz: 2021 candidate for Elgin City Council
Anthony Ortiz is one of 11 candidates running for four, 4-year seats on the Elgin City Council in the April 6, 2021, election. One candidate, Marcus Banner, declined to participate in the questionnaire.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates several questions about issues facing the city.
Below are Ortiz's responses.
In-person early voting begins March 10 only at the Kane County Clerk's Office, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Bldg. B, in Geneva and the Aurora satellite office, 5 E. Downer Place, Suite F. In-person early voting at locations throughout the county begins March 22. Learn more at www.kanecountyclerk.org/Elections.
Employer: Kane County state's attorney's Office
Civic involvement: Elgin Police/Fire Commission, Illinois Veterans Advisory Council (state-level appointment), Kane County Health Department (COVID-19 Case Investigator), Elgin AMVETS, Active member of South West Area Neighbors (SWAN)
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. We need to work with all levels of government to get our residents of Elgin what they need. With my strong leadership and networks throughout the County of Kane, I can reach out and request resources and bring them back to our community. When elected, I will be the voice for the whole city no matter who they voted for. My job will be to represent everyone.
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. Yes, I believe the city did a good job in accommodating the residents. One way was, for a few months in 2020, the city and Elgin Police Department allowed residents to park on both sides of the street in the neighborhoods that had odd/even parking. This helped residents that were working from home and didn't have a driveway to park their cars. Another one is on the City of Elgin website it has a section with information about COVID.
Lastly, the city worked with the Downtown Neighborhood Association to create curbside pickup for our small business restaurants. Which helped them stay in business and make money the best they could in line with the governor's orders. One way I think the city could have done better is forgive some water bills to families deeply impacted. Many other cities around the country gave their residents relief on their water bills. This small relief could have helped those families struggling families.
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. Currently, in the city council chambers, there are glass dividers to help separate council members and the mayor. I think we should continue to use until the Centers for Disease Control says it's safe to remove, but even after that the city should save all glass inserts for possible future use. Kane County courts have temperature scanning machines that scan body heat of every person walking in the door. Maybe the city should install some of these at high trafficked public buildings like city hall and the Elgin Rec Centers. The county used some of the federal COVID relief money to buy these machine to better monitor the visitors in and out of public buildings.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. The city of Elgin has been making staffing cuts, closing or suspending certain programs, and buildings (Elgin's Eastside Rec Center) to help relieve the budget and salary stress on the taxpayers. The council, with city leadership, need to work together to find different avenues of income that don't rely on property or gas tax.
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 infrastructure project can be put on the back burner?
A. One item I believe needed to be improved it the aging communication infrastructure to fiber optics. This will help our first responders with faster download and data transfer speeds and begin to move the city toward the new 5G communication networks for our residents. One way to help pay for this project is to partner and make agreements with major communication companies that operate in the city (i.e. AT&T, Comcast, etc.). One project that can wait is the intersection redesign at Summit Street and Dundee Avenue. I know this intersection needs a remodel, but with the current money shortfalls from the pandemic this project can wait a little longer.
Q. Do you agree or disagree with the stance your council has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A. Yes, I agree with the step the current council has done to help promote and bring marijuana dispensaries to the city. Even more the ordinance changes for downtown. This is a lucrative business that can bring in thousands of dollars in luxury tax sales. Marijuana is a luxury not a necessity like a home or gas. So, reasonable taxing of it will help bring more money to the city and help reduce the burden on the taxpayers.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. Some great ideas no one is speaking about is partnering with nonprofit organizations and making intergovernmental agreements with the Elgin and Hanover Township to bring more veteran and senior programs and services to the City of Elgin. For example, I believe we should give back to our seniors and veterans so we should have a free or discounted fitness membership at the Elgin Rec Centers for these groups. Many smaller villages and townships around Elgin offer them. So, I think Elgin should give back to these great groups of people.