Thomas F. Ouimet: 2021 candidate for Mundelein mayor
4 candidates for 1 seat
Occupation: Manager Litigation Docketing, with the law firm of Foley & Lardner, LLP
Civic involvement: Vice president, Mundelein High School District 120 board member
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: As a member of the Mundelein High School board of education we faced the pandemic in a collaborative effort and the health and safety of our students, staff, and the community has always been our primary focus. We worked together as a team by forming committees to work through the many issues that we are still currently facing. The committees meet weekly and give a voice to all stakeholders so that everyone can be heard. As Mayor, I'll advocate and support our Mundelein businesses during this pandemic and I'll work with businesses to find creative ways to keep them open. However, I am not a health expert and will always defer to our State and Federal authorities regarding what measures need to be in place so that our residents are safe.
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 feel we could have come together as a community better to support our local businesses better. Just telling people to shop local won't cut it -- you need to lead by example. I would make sure that all village employees visit and shop at our business with me. Our local businesses provide our community with more than tax dollars and we need to support each and every one of them so they grow and attract more business to Mundelein.
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: This crisis has shown how important it is to save money for these type of disruptions to our village budget. The fact that the current administration has spent more money than they received each of the last eight years is so dangerous. The first safeguard is that all future budgets are balanced with no overspending. Second, we need to make sure we save a portion of our tax dollars each year so we have adequate money to help local businesses and residents when the next crises hits.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: As Mayor, I will make sure we grow our local revenue sources and increase our reserves so that we don't have to make cuts.
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 order to create a vibrant central downtown, I would create the necessary infrastructure internally with current village employees and task them with goals to bring more business to town. We can't sit and wait for businesses to come here, we need to promote Mundelein and offer incentives for business to call Mundelein their home. I would establish a downtown boundary, develop a plan to add more lighting, add a parking structure so our residents and visitors have easy access to enjoy their downtown visits.
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: Many states are now allowing these sales and I recognize this issue can be controversial. I would work with our police department and local school officials on a regular basis to make sure these sales are not having a negative impact in Mundelein. I would also make sure we have a review process each quarter for this type of business so we make sure all rules and regulations are being followed. I'm not in favor of marijuana use in public places including our parks.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: As Mayor, I plan to reach out to all taxing bodies in Mundelein so that we can all align our goals and work TOGETHER for the betterment of Mundelein. Residents are paying taxes to the village, schools, Fremont Library, and Mundelein Park District -- these taxing units of government should align similar goals so that we all can be better stewards of taxpayers money and ensure the money is spent wisely on community projects that benefit all of Mundelein. By doing this we can generate cost savings, efficiencies to our work, and work in a collaborative effort on future projects that have the support of everyone!
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I'm a former Mundelein High School student, a Mundelein homeowner with five children, a former Mundelein business owner for seven years and finally a Mundelein High School board member for the past 4 years. Mundelein needs a Mayor that understands the different perspectives and interests of its diverse constituents and has the credibility and experience to unite all of us. The other candidates have been involved in village government for 12 years and have borrowed from reserves to balance the budget, leaving us exposed as we entered the pandemic. These reserves could have been additional funds to support our businesses and to mitigate the impact of COVID. Instead, the village board approved higher taxes on residents to cover the budget shortfall, making Mundelein less attractive to future residents and contributing to a downward spiral that will only result in more taxes and fewer businesses. We can thrive as a village if we create a downtown plan that will drive economic activity and tax revenue. We can then reverse the downward spiral we're in now and our businesses will thrive and our home values will increase as Mundelein attracts new residents. We need a Mayor focused on fiscal responsibility and one that will grow our sales tax revenue. I'm that person!
Q: What is the primary reason you're running for office? What is the most important issue?
A: I'm running for Mayor because Mundelein needs new leadership that will create and grow a vital central downtown. Mundelein Village leadership has sat and watched our neighboring towns grow and enhance their downtowns while not addressing our need of a central downtown here in Mundelein. As a former business owner, this lack of support ultimately caused me to close our Mundelein store to focus on more profitable communities. Creating a new downtown will centralize both economic and community activity in Mundelein. The result will be increased sales tax revenue and expanded community engagement as we build the foundation that will allow Mundelein to attract new businesses and grow in the future.