Greg Lieser: 2021 candidate for South Elgin Village Board
In the April 6 consolidated election, five candidates are vying for three, 4-year terms on the South Elgin Village Board. The candidates are incumbents Jennifer Barconi, Greg Lieser and John H. Sweet Sr., and newcomers Shane Hamilton and Anthony Ed Metoyer.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates several questions about issues facing the village. Sweet, Hamilton and Metoyer did not respond.
Below are Lieser'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.
Town: South Elgin
Occupation: Retired banker
Civic involvement: Appointed as South Elgin Village Board Trustee in June 2016 and elected in April 2017; Boys & Girls Club board (since 2005, past president, past treasurer, currently capital campaign chair for a new clubhouse in South Elgin); R.I.S.E. America board (since organized in 2020, currently treasurer); Planning & Zoning Commissioner (2014-2016); South Elgin Economic Development Council (2007-2016, past chair, past treasurer); volunteer with Elgin Classic Little League, Elgin Jaycees, YMCA, Junior Achievement, United Way, Easter Seals and Neighborhood Housing Service
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. As a community leader, set an example with mask wearing, social distancing and compassion toward others.
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. Despite lockdowns, the village experienced minimal disruption in services. Employees who worked from home were available to the public by phone and provided services as needed.
Police officers and public works personnel continued to provide essential services. Village board meetings were conducted on Zoom with public participation encouraged.
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. I feel we now have a road map for future pandemics in terms of public safety and continuity of government (limited interaction with others (e.g. Zoom), proper social distancing, proper ventilation and masks). The village quickly adopted personnel policies to protect employees from being infected and to otherwise prevent the spread of COVID-19. We also adopted a vaccination policy.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers
A. The village has managed its resources wisely and has diversified revenue streams as well as strong cash reserves. While we did see some reduction in revenue, we provided a mini-stimulus in the form of two $30 credits to each water account.
When dining reopened outside, we provided concrete barricades at little or no cost to local restaurants. We also reduced liquor license fees by 50% for calendar year 2021.
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. About a third of the streets in South Elgin are nearing the end of useful life. A sales tax increase to fund reconstruction was proposed in a referendum that was narrowly defeated. We could borrow to fund this, but I am not in favor of any new debt except for a dire emergency.
We will budget and replace roads as funds become available while patching and repairing as necessary. As for other planned infrastructure projects, like McLean Boulevard reconstruction and Lions Park improvements, we obtained grants and other funding from the state of Illinois to pay for these.
Q. Do you agree or disagree with the stance your board has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A. The board approved a license for a marijuana cultivator. I voted in favor. With many of our surrounding communities approving such licenses, we felt it would be best to have oversight of a pot business as opposed to an operation located very near our border for which we would have no control.
The additional burden the cannabis industry places on our police department and social welfare would be no less if we banned these businesses from South Elgin.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. While the village is not highly leveraged, I would like to hand off a debt-free municipality to future generations. Imagine what could be done to benefit our community if we didn't have $3-4 million of annual debt service.