Brooke Shanley: Candidate profile
Name: Brooke Shanley
Office sought: Alderman at Large
Family: Mom to 3 parrots
Education: BA Benedictine University; MA Loyola University Chicago
Previous elected offices held: None
What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
When I'm knocking doors, the issue of most importance to residents is the property tax burden. Aurora is a city of working families who are being crushed by property taxes. If you compare a townhouse in Kendall County, Aurora, with a four bedroom single family home in Oswego that is worth $100K more, you will see that the property taxes levied by the City of Aurora are considerably higher. Meanwhile, both properties are paying the same price primarily because of the high City of Aurora taxes. This is not an issue that has a quick fix. Solving this issue requires elected leaders who are committed to working collaboratively across all levels to create a solution. I will work collaboratively with our leaders at all levels to alleviate the property tax burden. No one should be taxed out of their home and I am committed to ensuring Aurora remains affordable for working families.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
As a teacher, my career has consisted entirely of service, advocacy, and leadership. I have listened to, collaborated with, and been the voice for my students, their families, my fellow colleagues, and the community at large for the last 15 years and I will do the same for the residents of Aurora as Alderman at Large. Aurorans need a true voice on city council. I will have monthly resident and neighborhood meetings and be visible in the community, so residents can share their concerns with me and let me know how I can help them. Around 40 percent of Aurora's population is Hispanic/Latinx, yet there is only 1 Latina on city council. While I am not Latina, I am fully bilingual and biliterate which is an asset that facilitates accessibility and voice for many in our community. I will work collaboratively to find relief from the property tax burden for our residents, and to create a safer city through neighborhood improvements and crime reduction efforts. I believe in strong ethics rules for elected officials in the City of Aurora. I will put people over politics and always keep students, our future, at the heart of my decision making in order to create a stronger, more vibrant city.
Describe your leadership style and explain how you think that will be effective in producing actions and decisions with your village board or city council.
My leadership style has been heavily influenced by my profession. My experiences as an educator, labor leader, and community activist have equipped me with the ability to build productive relationships and organize people around common goals. I believe in working collaboratively to achieve consensus. At the same time, I also believe in standing up for what is right and will voice my concerns and opposition to items that are not in the best interest of the residents of Aurora. I understand how important strong, independent, leadership is to the success of our city.
How would you describe the condition of your community's budget, and what are the most important specific actions the town should take to assure providing the level of services people want?
While there are many things we do well, there is always room for improvement. Examining the true potential of the technology available to us is one way in which to be more efficient in our expenditures. Additionally, we can improve our budget and our neighborhoods by working to help homeowners restore their historic homes. We can empower our neighborhoods by reinstating a historic preservation commission and taking full advantage of preservation grants. We should also be using our Community Block Grant funds more efficiently to improve neighborhoods. I would also like to look at hiring and other expenditures to ensure that we are utilizing taxpayer dollars wisely. Departments have been created that should be reviewed for cost efficiency and there are partnerships that appear to have a more one sided transactional relationship than the collaborative partnership being portrayed. Finally, I would like to closely analyze the cost/benefit of maintaining a lobbyist for the city. It is the responsibility of aldermen to advocate for residents. If we do our job, there is no need for a lobbyist. Cutting this would save the city money and encourage stronger, more transparent, relationships between residents and elected officials, creating a stronger city and a more fiscally responsible budget.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
As stated previously, a concentrated effort needs to be made into improving the historic east and west sides of Aurora. Homeowners should have just as much assistance as the millions of dollars being given to developers. Improving neighborhoods will not only improve their outward appearance but, also, improve safety. Also, the council needs to adopt a strong ethics ordinance, ending pay to play politics in Aurora. We need a responsive and transparent council that listens to residents and acts as their voice, advocating for their needs. We need a council that, truly, serves the residents of Aurora. As alderman, I intend to do just that.