Scott J. Gartner: 2021 candidate for Antioch mayor
Three candidates are running for Antioch mayor in the April 6, 2021 election.
Occupation: Attorney and tech entrepreneur; Owner of Merit Law Group, Inc. and RoadtoClose.com
Civic involvement: Antioch Rotary Club (past president), Antioch Lions Club, Antioch Chamber of Commerce, Antioch Planning and Zoning, Lake County Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, former president of Redwing View Homeowner's Association, former Antioch police commissioner
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 Mayor I view my role to respect the State and Federal authorities in their COVID-19 guidance and guidelines. I believe the science shows the danger of the virus, but that must also be balanced with a common sense approach in response to that danger. Complete shutdowns of certain businesses, (i.e., small stores, restaurants) does not seem sensible. I think the maximum shutdown should not fall below 25%-50% capacity to allow the businesses to continue to operate and stay alive. That being said, given that our town borders Wisconsin, which is wide open, I would never support, nor enforce, a complete shutdown of a business, unless they were acting recklessly or negligently in their safety protocols.
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 think the Village waited too long when the pandemic started to get involved with COVID-19 mitigation, education and messaging to the Village residents and businesses. It was not until later in the spring or summer that the Village started to post videos or information to support businesses. It could have helped more with PPP education, safe community events (i.e., drive in events and the like) I would have been calling Springfield and publicly speaking out against the governor's orders when small business were closed, but the big box stores could remain open. In my opinion, there was no common sense used in relation to the shutdown by allowing big box stores to remain open while completely shutting down small businesses at the same time.
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: I would like to make sure our businesses, schools, government and community services are prepared to operate at a scaled down operating capacity that is safe and promotes a sense of normalcy (as much as possible). Schools need to be open, businesses must be open, people have jobs and businesses that need to continue so that they can pay their bills. Also, safe community events (i.e., drive by parades, drive-in events and the like) should be considered. People need normalcy, human contact, events to attend and know that their business and jobs can survive. The stress of not having these assurances or direction can lead to greater human issues than the pandemic itself. I would have promoted better PR and education campaign to speak to the residents on a regular basis early during the pandemic, not just simply repost the governors orders.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: Antioch does run a fiscally conservative budget. That being said, there are utility taxes and water and sewer fees that could be suspended, canceled or deferred to give people real money in their pocket. These cuts would be offset by reductions in discretionary spending to reduce the potential impact on the provision of public safety services such as Police and Public Works. My campaign is strongly focused on building the business base in Antioch, and thus, the business tax base of sales tax revenue to ease the tax burden on the homeowners should be leveraged.
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: The most important infrastructure project to be addressed in Antioch is the Pittman property. All options for development of that parcel should be explored with community input. While I believe that the Sequoit Creek should be restored to its natural condition in a park setting that can accommodate community events, no decision should be made by the Village Board without extensive community engagement. The band shell could be moved to this location. There should be outreach to the local business community for sponsorship options related to the redevelopment of the property. Lastly, residents MUST be kept apprised of the plans and progress as it will take time to create the plan and before it can be implemented, the engineering studies that will determine the feasibility will need to be completed.
One project that can be put on the back burner is determining the future of the current Village Hall. Sitting on a prime corner in downtown Antioch, this is a potential site for a tax generating project. The Village definitely needs a new Public Works facility and planning for that should continue.
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: I do not agree with the stance of the Village Board regarding recreational marijuana. I am on the Planning, Building and Zoning Commission and voted "NO" to the ordinance as written. I am not opposed to a dispensary or craft grower coming to town, but I am against it being allowed in almost every business zoning district in town. I would encourage the Village Board to only approve a dispensary or craft grower in the Industrial and manufacturing districts, not on the main roads in town.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: Everyone is talking about transparency this election season. That should be a given. No one is talking about the importance of CONSISTENCY incorporating fairness and respect as a hallmark of good leadership. Consistency means decisions that are implemented in a timely manner. It means that decisions that are made by the Board and staff are fairly implemented for all: staff, residents, and businesses, that there is no favoritism. It means that it is understood that if a decision is made that it has been determined to be for the betterment of the Village as a whole and should not be altered because any one person or group disagrees with the decision. Respect as part of consistency means that residents, vendors, business owners, staff and elected and appointed officials are allowed to speak uninterrupted and government leaders should encourage respectful engagement of a diversity of ideas. This is a cultural change that I will champion as Mayor of the Village of Antioch. This is a cultural change that will result in a level of trust of Antioch government by its constituents.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I feel like I am the best candidate for the position of Mayor, as I own a business in Antioch, have raised my daughters in Antioch, am highly involved in the business, civic and governmental organizations in the Village. I think in general, I have a good feel for the changes that the residents and business owners are looking for in their next Mayor.
I also treat people fairly, with respect and am open to other's opinions and concerns. I am a person that creates a vision and then puts people in positions to succeed and make those plans a reality. In short, I know how to get things done.
The time for change and progress is now. We cannot wait four more years. There are challenges holding Antioch back from growing to its full potential due to policies at the State and local levels. Illinois residents are leaving our State to avoid our State's high tax burden. This is a huge challenge for our border communities. We must develop a foundation that entices people to visit and businesses to become a part of our downtown business district. We must ease the tax burdens on working families and businesses and give our community members and residents a downtown area that they are proud to call home. We have an incredible opportunity to make Antioch the premiere Village in northern Lake County. Our town is more than ready for a fresh start, new look, and a change of vision all around and I know how to make those visions a reality.
I want Antioch to be the "Gold Standard" for towns in Northern Lake County; where people want to live, raise a family, and retire here for generations, but we must start now. Expecting improvements by doing the same thing will not work in life, business, or government and that is why I am asking for the Residents of Antioch's vote on April 6, 2021.