Tristan E. Dacre: 2021 candidate for Elmhurst 2nd Ward Alderman
In the April 6, 2021, consolidated election, challenger Tristan E. Dacre and incumbent Jacob Hill are vying for Elmhurst 2nd Ward Alderman.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates several questions about issues facing the city.
Below are Dacre's responses.
In-person early voting with paper ballots is available at DuPage County Fairgrounds Building 5, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. In-person early voting with touch-screen voting begins March 22 at locations throughout the county. Learn more at www.dupageco.org/earlyvoting/.
Occupation: Multistate Registered Architect, principal/owner of Dacre & Youngquist, LLC
Civic involvements: Coach, Cubmaster, active parishioner
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: A successful leader must be flexible. My role in confronting the pandemic would encompass all of the above examples. The pandemic decimated many small businesses. I understand, first hand, the pain the shutdown has caused. And yet my wife, who is a nurse, has seen the other side of the tragedy of COVID-19. What it has done to patients, their families, and her fellow colleagues.
Those of us who are not in health care cannot fully appreciate the lives lost and the trauma caused. The pandemic has thrown a wide net, the casualties have left few untouched. There may be unpopular choices required to keep people safe, to open up schools and businesses, to defer to state authorities. I promise to follow the science, to speak to subject matter experts, and keep an open mind when listening to opposing points of view.
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: Thankfully, there were no noticeable changes to Elmhurst police, fire, or public works services. Our entire community should be commended for keeping the curve low. As my family navigated the various challenges of the pandemic, we followed the guidelines both to keep ourselves, as well as others, safe. I am proud of our community and our response to the pandemic.
The city of Elmhurst has a dedicated space on its webpage with COVID-19 updates, educational information, how to stay safe, and how to access city services if not in person.
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: The nation learned much over this past year. It is crucial to listen to and partner with federal, state, and local health care professionals. There should be open lines of communication and regular updates from state and local health departments as well as with neighboring communities. Transparency matters. The health and safety of our youngest to our oldest members of the community is of utmost importance. We need to consider how to better support our small businesses during times of crisis.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: I applaud the necessary actions the mayor and city council did last year during the pandemic. The hiring freeze and the postponement of street rehabilitation are a couple examples. Depending on how 2021 pans out, I would like to understand if further cuts in forestry, library operations, and other planned public redevelopment improvements can be postponed until funds return back to pre-pandemic levels.
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: Water and sewer are the most important infrastructure items we need to address. I support the long-term sewer rehabilitation projects that the city has committed to upgrading. This is a local and tangible improvement that homeowners can see. However during the pandemic for the extent of work not contractually obligated, we need to delay this execution.
When analyzing our water supply, it is much more complicated matter that cannot be solved at the local level alone. With our municipality water system being the third in line behind the DuPage Water Commission and the city of Chicago Department of Water Management, we are being forced to pay for all the groundwork improvements, not only for our streets, but possibly for improvements throughout DuPage County and Chicago.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of transparency concerning where our money is actually going. We need to advocate for an overhaul of the current system to achieve equitable water rates across the region. We see water flowing out of the tap and tend to not consider how it gets to our homes. Instead of being "out of sight, out of mind," we need to think about how we can bring this mounting issue to the forefront.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: As a small-business owner married to a nurse, I am acutely aware of the pain on both sides of this issue. We need to understand both sides of this issue and do what is best for our community. Businesses need to be viewed on a case-by-case basis. No single broad stroke approach should be taken to businesses given the volatility and uncertainty of the times.
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: I agree with the Elmhurst City Council members' unanimous vote from the Fall of 2019 to ban the sales of recreational marijuana. The business being all-cash invites crime and requires additional supervision. With Elmhurst located as it is with multiple vehicular accesses to major highways, I believe the potential for a quick criminal getaway would be an undesirable liability and unwanted high risk to our police. Instead, our police should continue to focus on the priorities of enforcing laws, solving for criminal cases, and being engaged with the community.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: In the long term, I would like to expand the interconnectedness of non-vehicular pathways along the Railway Corridor and North Avenue (Route 64). Currently, the railroad and principal arterial roadway respectively compartmentalize neighborhood wards and acts as physical barrier in uniting the residential community of Elmhurst. By means of more under/overpasses, an investigation of opportunities to improve safety and provide more gateways should be explored.
With ongoing development and planned improvements already happening in the downtown Centre City core, an additional framework of goals should be undertaken by the city for the rest of Elmhurst's neighborhood interconnectedness. In the long term, all residents should be able to safely cross over existing major arterial routes of transportation. No Elmhurst resident should be limited convenient access to each other's neighborhoods' amenities, parks, and businesses.