Jacob Fleischmann: 2021 candidate for Fox River Grove village board
Four candidates for three, 4 year seats
Village: Fox River Grove
Occupation: Technology sales
Civic involvement: Current Fox River Grove Trustee
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. Having been trustee through the pandemic, the core of my involvement has been doing what I can to assure businesses have access to the necessary funding, whether it be local, State, or Federal in order to continue operations. Our village is small when compared to some of the larger villages and cities around, and we need every business we can to not only stay open, but thrive. With that being said, the state dictates largely what our village can, and can't do.
Q. With regards to our residents, of course they have a voice, and a loud one at that, as they should. We have, as a board, continued to hold public meetings, whether it be in person, or over a media platform such as zoom, to assure that any resident has the ability to speak up and give us input, thoughts, concerns, as we always have.
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. I believe, we, as a village, saw little, to no change with regards to service disruptions during the past year of the pandemic. Public safety is always front and center in my opinion. Our officers continued to deliver their selfless work, day in and day out. Water, and sewer continued to work without disruption. Payment systems were available online when the village hall may have been closed. Our public works team continued their amazing work regarding keeping our parks clean (during a time of heightened use last summer due to the pandemic) I give all the credit to our entire team that runs the village on a daily basis, and I believe that the navigation of the pandemic could not have been much better.
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. Honestly, I don't like to speculate on things like this, however, we can learn from our past experiences. Number one, is to assure our residents have continued service from the village. Number two is to assure our small businesses have the ability to continue to operate, in a safe manner, and not put restrictions in place that will cripple the local small businesses and economy.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. Our small village is already fiscally conservative. We are debt free, which helps the taxpayers. In Illinois, our taxes, in my opinion, are outrageously high. This has been going on for decades, and is not directly related to the pandemic, but I have always been an advocate of reducing taxes (those that we have control over). Unfortunately, because we are what's considered a non-home rule town, we have very little control over taxes. We do have an option of taking, or not taking a yearly tax increase that mirrors the CPI for the year. This past year, in November, as in years past, I voted NO to taking the increase, but unfortunately, my fellow trustees have continued to vote for raising taxes. I also believe that in the village of Fox River Grove, the trustees should not receive any sort of salary, or stipend. We are small, and it's not a full-time job by any stretch. I have not taken a dollar over the past 4 years, and I have donated that money back to the village. If all trustees would do that, we could offset some of the tax increase, and perhaps not take the increase over several years.
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. In my opinion, the most pressing project that needs to happen is our downtown redevelopment. Our village needs to create an attractive landscape to entice developers and businesses into our village. We have a prime real estate block that is blighted. Its old, not up to code, and just plain unsightly. The plan is to gain ownership of this land and start working with developers to build new. Regarding the uncertain economic times, I do not necessarily believe our economy is in that bad of condition. Unemployment is ticking down, our housing market is roaring, and as we turn the corner on the pandemic, we are, in my opinion, going to see a ton of pent-up demand, especially in the entertainment industry, which includes our businesses in town and potential future businesses.
Q. Do you agree or disagree with the stance the board has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance if you could?
A. First, I should clarify that we, as a board, adopted an ordinance that allows us to consider potential future marijuana sales in our community. It does not mean that just anyone can come in, rent a space, and sell marijuana.
With that being said, I see both pros and cons of this. The pros, obviously, are increased tax revenue, in a town that continues to see tax revenue slowly dwindle and be taken by the state. On the other hand, you will incur additional costs ie: administration, licensing, and monitoring needed. I also believe, that because it's still illegal on the federal level, you are opening yourself up to possible future scrutiny from the federal government.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. I am a huge advocate for local shopping/eating. While I do feel like we have stepped up as a community during this pandemic to support our businesses, especially restaurants, I think we can make a more concerted effort to show even more love to our businesses. The village could promote small businesses more often to encourage dedicated days (perhaps once a quarter) for shopping, eating and hiring local.