Eleanor Sweet McDonnell: Candidate profile
CANDIDATE BIO INFORMATION
Name: Eleanor Sweet McDonnell
City: North Barrington
Office sought: President -- Village of North Barrington
Family: Pete, husband, daughter (DePaul University) and son (Barrington High School) and two cats.
Occupation: President/CEO, The Remington Group, LLC, specializing in Business -- Business Consulting.
Education: Northwestern University -- Kellogg Graduate School of Management -- MBA/MM, Boston College -- Bachelor of Science -- Marketing
(Approximately 14 years of public service to North Barrington)
Village of North Barrington Fire Commissioner,
Village of North Barrington Plan Commission Member,
Lake County Board -- Appointed Lake Zurich Rural Fire Department Trustee -- North Barrington,
Additional Civic Background
American Cancer Society -- Relay for Life of Barrington -- Event Chair,
Barrington Regional Hurricane Relief -- Committee Member,
Barrington High School -- Incubator Program -- Mentor,
St. Anne's Church -- Children's evening religious classes -- Past Teacher,
Barrington Area Professional Women's Association -- Past President, Board Member, Program Chair,
Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce,
2015 Influential Women in Business (The Business Ledger -- Daily Herald),
2014 Women of Distinction -- Lake County (Shaw Media),
2014 ATHENA International Leadership Award -- Nominee
Previous elected offices held:
I have always been recruited by community leaders to serve for the Village of North Barrington and the greater Barrington area. I was asked by six North Barrington community leaders to run for President of the Village of North Barrington.
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected?
What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
The most important issues facing the Village of North Barrington are safety and financial in nature. They are 1) excess stormwater, 2) decreased services relative to snow plowing resulting in safety issues, 3) stagnate house values and sales, and a 4) unbalanced budget.
My promise to you the resident:
1) I will work with Lake Zurich and all adjacent communities to find a stormwater solution that will protect the North Barrington properties.
2) I will renegotiate the current snow plowing contract. The current decreased service levels have created safety issues for our residents that are simply unacceptable and need to be solved.
3) I will launch a strong marketing communication campaign. I will work with residents and local realtors to put North Barrington "back on the map" with a "I love North Barrington™" campaign. This involves more that updating the website and Facebook page. This involves an ongoing community branding and to support this campaign annually.
4) I will find a sensible way to close the gap on the unbalanced budget. We will not decrease villages service levels that affect the safety of the residents or decrease their home values.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
My experience as a 30-year resident of North Barrington, owner of a fiscally conservative business, participating in many community organizations over the years and my service to the Village or North Barrington, give me the passion, background and knowledge to best fill the current position of Village President.
As a business professional and business owner, I know from experience how important good customer service, cooperation, efficiency, sound budget and responsible leadership are. I have used all these skills to help achieve positive results for our greater Barrington community and my clients. I will bring this same passion, and track record to serve the residents.
I have a long history of being an active champion for the resident's safety and welfare. I have spent approximately 14 years specifically serving the Village of North Barrington residents. I was a Plan Commission Member and one of the authors our of current comprehensive plan. I was the Fire Commissioner charged with the fire safety of the residents, in addition to implementing the North Barrington dry hydrant program. As the North Barrington Trustee on the LZFRD I was involved building Fire Station #3 near the FOGLIA Y. There I implemented the first public bid process and compensation tracking system for the Lake Zurich Rural Fire District.
I bring back "common sense" local government with integrity.
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 is style is one that encourages empowerment and collaboration.
I believe in delegating and encouraging those that report to me to be the "expert" of what they are in charge. I also make myself readily available for support and feedback. I know my strengths and surround myself with people that can complement by strengths with their own strengths and area of expertise. I believe to be a strong leader you must first be a good listener with an objective mind. I am a visionary leader constantly looking for better solutions to problems.
"I am not running as a politician. I am running as a long time North Barrington resident to champion your voice, your interests -- not mine. That is my promise to you the resident."
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?
Relative to our budget I have noticed we are spending more than we are taking in. Our expenses are exceeding our income. In 2017 and 2018 the Village lost $1,213,818. We cannot spend what we are not earning. This is not fiscally responsible. We need to find a way to operate more fiscally conservative and work to close this gap. The Village of North Barrington receives approximately 3.7% of our homeowner's property taxes. We must be good stewards of our residents hard earned money.
Based on over 200 conversations with the residents, their biggest complaint is the increased winter safety issues due to decreased snow plowing services. We will put this village service back out for bid. The decision will not be made solely on the lowest bidder as was the case with our current vendor. I want increased winter safety for our residents.
The residents have complained about the excess amount of standing water, creating a stormwater issue. They feel that the Village is not listening to them relative to this issue. This is a complex issue that needs to be discussed with Lake Zurich and our other Barrington area communities. My priority as President is to start this dialogue and work toward a common-sense solution on this problem.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A comprehensive marketing community wide communications campaign to put the Village of North Barrington "back on the map". This is more than just a Facebook page, social media, newsletter and upgrading the website. This is an ongoing long-term campaign. This is something based on my professional background I know we will be able to manage in a financially conservative way.
I am known in the community for my ability to build long term community relationships that create results in our communities. I would use this strength to develop our community outreach program, partnering with others to share our message of what a great place North Barrington is to live, "I love North Barrington ™"
We need to champion a stronger sense of community within the Village of North Barrington. The residents are sharing with me their frustration with the lack of good snow plowing, excess standing water resulting in stormwater issues, and feeling like they are not being really listened to. They feel the Village lacks commons sense government and is not listening or responding to their needs. As Village President I will make sure our residents know that they are our top priority, our customer and we work to serve them.