Ronald Almiron: Candidate profile
Name: Ronald A. Almiron
Office sought: Councilman At-Large
Family: Married to Victoria since 2001; we have one son in the fifth grade.
Education: B.A. in American Studies & Psychology, University of Notre Dame; J.D., The John Marshall Law School
Civic involvement: Trustee, Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer, Wheaton Mosquito Abatement District; Member, City of Wheaton Planning & Zoning Board; Secretary, School Advisory Board, St. Michael Parish School; Lector and Parishioner, St. Michael Catholic Church; President, Waterford Place of Wheaton Condominium Association; Advancement Co-Chair, Cub Scout Pack 134, Three Fires Council; Parent Volunteer, Wheaton Park District Barracudas Swim Team.
Previous elected offices held: Precinct committeeman from 2008 through 2014.
What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
For the final phases of the Downtown Streetscape project, the City of Wheaton should be more careful in monitoring and spending taxpayers' money. As its next priority, City government needs to do more to spur economic development by creating a more attractive business environment. The City should grow its economically sensitive sales tax base, and broaden the business tax base. Successful national or Chicagoland-based retail and restaurant businesses can succeed in Wheaton, too. Similarly, the City should look to increase growth by lowering the tax rate. As Councilman, I will promote business-friendly policies for the taxpayers' benefit. To promote public safety, the Council should consider new technologies to assist the City's first responders. As Councilman, I will propose a smartphone application, with optional push notifications, that would improve communications with citizens, particularly as to crime and Amber Alerts. Historical preservation should also be a City priority. As Councilman I will explore an ordinance designating and preserving historical landmarks. To continue moving forward down the right path, citizens must know where the community has been. Historical landmarks are a source of pride. They would not only improve property values, but also attract more families and businesses to the City.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
Over the years I have demonstrated my passion and commitment to the Wheaton community. As a lawyer, I have been trained to be a problem solver. I have been doing this both in the courtroom and in the communities in which I have lived. A proven community servant, I bring a wealth of public and private board experience. Since 2005, I have served as the following officer positions on these boards: secretary, treasurer, vice president, and president. When I was on the City of Wheaton Planning & Zoning Board, I vigorously advocated for homeowners and their interests in such matters as Butterfly Garden, the proposed Starbucks at Naperville & Roosevelt, and Pulte Development's development of the former Loretto Convent property. For nearly four years on the Wheaton Mosquito Abatement District, I have voted to keep property tax levies low and fought to stop wasteful spending. I have approved budgets for the many boards of which I have been a member. For two years I have served as secretary of the advisory board at my son's school. All my experiences as a community servant have made me the best qualified candidate for the open Councilman At-Large seat on the Wheaton City Council.
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 is collaborative. A seasoned professional, I have been an attorney arbitrator for nearly twenty-two years. In each arbitration hearing, after listening to facts and determining evidence, I would work together with my fellow arbitrators to analyze the facts and law to come up with an award that is fair and just. At all times I would listen to my colleagues' positions, and we would reach a consensus. As president of two different homeowners associations, I have delegated responsibilities to my fellow directors and created committees. As a member of the City of Wheaton Planning & Zoning Board, I carefully considered all aspects of an application, and offered my opinions. In the resulting votes, my colleagues were persuaded to join me unanimously. A great example of this was the proposed Starbucks location at Naperville & Roosevelt Roads. I see myself on the City Council as a partner with my fellow Council members with shared goals of doing what is right in the best interests of the individuals and families in the City of Wheaton. My philosophy is that by the City Council working closely with City staff, all of us, including the Wheaton citizens especially, are better together.
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?
The City of Wheaton's 2019 budget is troubling by its increase of the property tax levy. The budget hides a significant downgrade. Last May, Moody's Investors Service downgraded the City's general obligation unlimited tax rating to AA1 from AAA, affecting $19.7 million of debt. With financial stability a strategic priority, the City should focus on restoring the previous AAA rating. According to Moody's, the downgrade to Aa1 reflected the City's elevated pension burden. Allocating taxpayer money to support the police pension fund and library needs is important. But in the future the City Council must think strategically and take more time in passing a budget. Infrastructure is also a strategic priority. As Councilman I will look for opportunities to spend taxpayer money more wisely, and prioritize capital projects. The City of Wheaton should engage in an ongoing, in-depth analysis of programs, services, and processes. It should ask what service levels are appropriate for citizens' needs, look into the true costs involved, analyze the necessity of the service, and determine the best way to provide the service. The City should survey certain households to gauge what services are wanted, and their opinions of the customer service provided by the City.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
One good idea to better the Wheaton community would be for the City of Wheaton to designate a safe, centrally-located meetup spot where citizens can exchange items bought via the internet, from Craigslist, for example. The meeting spot would promote both public safety and simple business transactions. Such a City program would eliminate the need for two strangers to exchange items at a home or residence. Having a designated public space to conduct transactions can help deter criminal activity and keep both buyers and sellers safe. A safe place to conduct these exchanges would be the side police department parking lot, and the site would be under video surveillance.