Ralf Siemens: 2021 candidate for North Barrington village board
Seven candidates for three seats
City: North Barrington
Occupation: Self-employed Software Product Management -- Data Science/Analytics
Civic involvement: Big Brothers of Canada -- 1996-2000. Calgary Big Brother of the Year -- 1998. Lake Zurich Baseball Coach -- 2015-2018
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: Help people where I can, such as arrange rides as needed. No one, especially elected officials, should stand in the way of county, state, and federal authorities who are doing the best job at organizing and distributing the vaccine.
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: The online presence for self-help services is inadequate. For example, the vehicle stickers should have been a streamlined online process years ago. The pandemic would have been a perfect opportunity to do so. The only thing that went online is payment processing using a cumbersome state system, yet everything is still manual. Automating these functions will increase compliance, thereby increasing revenue. The whole mantra is to make it simple -- people will pay if it's simple.
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 Village needs to ensure and promote that the scientists and CDC guidance is followed.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: Local government can ensure that any federal or state aid is distributed fairly to those in need, and if local government does not have a role in that, it should ensure that budgets and budget line items are balanced and any possible downturns in property valuations are prepared for by making contracts flexible so that if revenue declines, contracts decline proportionally.
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: The primary project to address is the policing contract. The current contract is with the Lake County Sheriff department and is not fully funded. This impacts other budget line items of the Village's budget; a budget that is not readily available for review currently. Transparency is lacking which affects trustees' ability to review and comment on each line item. Reviewing the Police contract, which is shared with Lake Barrington, is needed to evenly redistribute the burden on both communities. Addressing the police contract will free up funds for road maintenance and flooding issues in order to get the attention they deserve.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: I will fully support adherence to any directive from the county and state's health departments as well as the CDC.
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the stance your board/council has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A: The Village does not have a stance on recreational marijuana sales that I am aware of. I fully support a referendum in North Barrington and let the voters decide this issue if a new revenue stream would be desirable. Currently there are dispensaries in surrounding communities, but the Village does not receive any revenue from those sources.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: Automate the vehicle sticker program, using a self-help portal. It will increase compliance which is currently only about 50%, increase revenue, reduce the manual labor and associated costs, and encourages automatic annual renewals. I can apply my experience and expertise to oversee the planning, designing, budgeting and the execution of streamlining automation products that simplify services for the residents of North