Hanover Park trustee candidates voice their priorities
The five candidates seeking the three available 4-year trustee seats on the Hanover Park village board shared their top priorities for the job during a recent Zoom interview with the Daily Herald.
Running in the April 6 election are incumbents Bob Prigge and Sharmin Shahjahan, both seeking their second terms, as well as Yasmeen Bankole, Tonya Frosheiser and Syed Hussaini.
Frosheiser, Hussaini and Prigge are running on a slate with three uncontested candidates -- incumbent Liza Gutierrez seeking reelection to a 2-year term, newcomer Kristy Merrill for village clerk, and incumbent Rodney Craig seeking reelection as village president.
Bankole and Shahjahan, on the other hand, are running as deliberately independent candidates.
Prigge, a resident since 1994 who has volunteered for the Little League Program and Boy Scout Troop 398, said building a welcoming community for the village's diverse population should be Hanover Park's top priority.
He said this is something the village has already been working on, but pandemic has disrupted many of the activities that contribute to a sense of community.
The creation of a central meeting place for the village on Ontarioville Road should contribute to such other efforts as providing translation services for Hanover Park's 80 spoken languages, he said.
"That's what we've been trying to work on and make this a welcoming community for everybody," Prigge said.
Frosheiser, a six-year village resident who retired from the Navy in 2006, echoed Prigge's sentiments, including his reference to the issues of racial justice around the country.
"We have such diversity within our community, and to assume that we are not affected from the things that are taking place on a national level would be a disservice to our constituents," she said. "I believe in getting out there and hearing the voices of those within the community, understanding their concerns and rolling up my sleeves and getting to work alongside them to bring about the positive change and the necessary change to make it a more family-friendly community."
Bankole, an outreach coordinator in U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin's office and a lifelong village resident, said economic development partnerships are what Hanover Park desperately needs to reduce the village's reliance on residential property taxes.
"In Hanover Park, we do have these small and minority-owned businesses, but there is a lack of economic development that makes us shop in Schaumburg or shop in Bloomingdale," she said. "We really need to prioritize these economic development partnerships so that we can generate this sales tax."
In contrast, Bankole said community organizers who held a protest in the village last year told her they never received acknowledgment from Hanover Park officials that their message had been heard.
While such specific contact may not have happened, Shahjahan said she and Trustee Herb Porter had co-chaired three virtual town hall meetings for the community that led to action on the issues that had been raised there.
Shahjahan, whose professional background is in finance and marketing, said recovery from the pandemic and coordination of vaccine availability is an immediate priority for the village. But as the youngest community in the Northwest suburbs, Hanover Park also has some catching up to do in the building of its housing stock and family amenities, she added.
"We are working together with other agencies, so that we're expanding the programming for our residents," Shahjahan said. "That's one way of reaching out and building that community and making it a quality place to live."
Hussaini, a senior vice president of commercial lending in the banking industry who has lived in the village for 18 years, also cited economic development as a major issue.
He said the village's restaurant scene was more robust when he moved to town than it is now. There should be more effort in the recruitment of businesses so that when restaurants close they can be replaced by new restaurants rather than car washes and other such uses, he added.
"We used to have a theater that we don't have now," Hussaini said. "We need more revenue instead of increasing real estate taxes on residents. The unique issue that we have is we have less area of commercial and more area of residents. That will be my concern. That will be something that I will be running on."