Stacy Ellis: 2021 candidate for Antioch Mayor
Three candidates are running for Antioch mayor in the April 6, 2021 election.
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom
Civic involvement: Equity Task Force, MADD
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: The role of Mayor in the pandemic should be to listen to the tax payers, provide leadership with the Village Board, and work with state and federal authorities to achieve solutions. First and foremost, we, as the elected officials, must listen to the people that we work for the taxpayer and other residents. The taxpayers must have a voice at the table. Elected officials shouldn't keep the tax payers in the dark or muted. To make sure that people are heard and informed, I will take immediate steps to increase transparency and information coming out of Village Hall, I will require my staff to be available for a "Making Sense" town hall style meeting where residents can voice their concerns. People will clearly hear how their tax dollars are being spent. Every 2 weeks the taxpayers will be given the opportunity to personally ask the Village staff members how money goes from their pockets to the Village Bank. This will give an open forum for all Village residents to be heard and for those residents that can't be there, we will post it on the Village website. Leaders must listen, and the taxpayers must be heard. Antioch must make itself heard with state and federal officials. We may not agree with all the decisions that state and federal authorities make -- for example closing all indoor dining the small and local restaurants that service the Antioch community and make Antioch a recreational destination seems a little harsh to me, a middle ground solution may have been better -- but just because we disagree, doesn't mean that we shouldn't work with these authorities. When the state and federal government is giving out money -- Antioch must be taken seriously and cannot be left out of the conversation. State and federal authorities have funding and access to scientists that we as a community of 14,000 just don't have. We can't isolate ourselves. We need to maintain our unique nature as a Village, but we also need to take advantage of the programs that state and federal authorities provide. Tough decisions will need to be made coming out of the pandemic and the Mayor, and hopefully it is me, will need to work with the Village Board to navigate these decisions working for the needs of the taxpayers and taking advantage of programs from state and local governments.
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 would like to thank the services provided by the police and other first responders for what they did during the first days of the pandemic. When they leave on a normal night, they don't know if they are coming home, but during a pandemic when everyone was unaware of what was going on, for them to stay out there protecting us -- they deserve a special commendation for doing what they did during the start of the pandemic. So, thank you. Communication should have been better coming out of Village Hall. While the schools and the Village are 2 separate governments, the Village should have been more proactive announcing the school's opening and closing plans. This should have been broadcast and made known to all taxpayers of the Village, as many of us are the parents of children in the school districts. Again, it comes back to transparency and communication -- the Village works for us, not the other way around -- and if I am the Mayor, that will be made clear.
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: Ensuring that Police will have sufficient PPE, the police will know that we have their backs, like they have ours. The people that protect us should be protected by us. Also, transparency and the distribution of information is key, robocalls and social media should have been used to direct people to resources, such as those by the CDC to inform them about the pandemic. Our most vulnerable populations- seniors and children- should be the focus of such outreach efforts. This goes for taxpayers that live in the Village as well, the Village took too long to implement a local business improvement plan. The small businesses are what give Antioch the great character that we need to remain a recreational destination. Giving them assistance only after suffering for a year is too long of a time.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: Again, these are very hard times and ensuring services are properly provided must be balanced against the burden on taxpayers. First and foremost, I got involved in this race to keep taxes low, we don't need to lose any more businesses or residents to Wisconsin. So, we should defer late payment penalties and shut offs to water customers during the pandemic, we should work with state and local officials to secure additional funding and resources to offset tax payer burdens, and we need to be more creative with how we spend our money. We need to spend our money smarter -- this will reduce expenditures as well. The Village has mismanaged its TIF program -- they just aren't holding developers that get millions and millions of our tax dollars to standards set forth in the TIF Agreements. Why did the Village buy the Grim Road property for one example? For another example, the Village is required to meet with one developer and create a report of how many Antioch jobs were created by the project. I don't think that the report was even done. In the TIF report that we approved, only 10% of the money was allocated for Antioch jobs. Why do we open up TIF Districts for rich developers that don't live here rather than get money for the schools and parks -- why not allocate some TIF money for a recreation center for our seniors and kids? Why not make the developers do that -- after all we are giving them tens of millions of dollars -- would a park be too much to ask for?
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: As I understand it certain road and utility improvements can be paid for under the TIF Act provided there is a link between the improvement and the TIF District, even if the property being improved is not in the TIF District. So, the policies for the usage of TIF not exclusively be focused on out-of-town developers, but should also take into account small businesses and local infrastructure improvements. Our people, Antioch people, will get the benefits of the taxes that Antioch tax payers pay. I have already reached out to state and other officials regarding Route 173. We need to improve the gateway that leads to the Village and reduce congestion. The Village has mismanaged the TIF program. I will propose an ordinance creating a local TIF commission to give more of a clear voice to the residents -- it will have local merchants -- not out of town hedge fund managers making it up -- people who pay the taxes will have a say on how the taxes are spent.
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 would propose a nonbinding advisory referendum be put to the Village voters and then they can give the elected officials direct feedback on the issue. The taxpayers need to know that they are being heard and their opinions taken into account when the Mayor and the Village Board make decisions.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I have 3 things that I want to mention. The use of social media for improving transparency. If used correctly, you can learn a lot through social media. For example, the Village was going to hold an illegal Special Meeting. We recognized it and questioned it. It was through social media that we, our campaign, saved the Village from violating the Open Meetings Act. All Village meetings -- from Board meetings to committee meetings need to be posted on the Village website and live streamed. Our elected officials and professionals need to do better with transparency. It is so bad that the Village is getting sued in federal court for illegally recording phone calls. I asked if the allegations in the lawsuit are true, but I received no answer. The Village taxpayers deserve to know what's going on at Village Hall and how taxpayer dollars are being spent. The Village taxpayers deserve to have a voice at the table -- that is why I am going to propose an ordinance to form the local TIF commission and will require the Village staff to participate in the "Making Sense" Program. It isn't hard. Also, we are going to use Village funds for Village resources, for example, we will require developers to hold the job fairs and create and distribute the jobs reports that they said they would do when they took our millions of dollars. We are also going to explore our pension obligations. The people that go out on the streets to protect us will know that we are doing what we can to live up to our obligations to them. We are going to use Village funds for transparency, parks and roads, and to pay our bills rather than putting money in the hands out of town developers.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I listen, serve people with compassion, and put other people first. Those are the qualities that Antioch needs now. I want to be the Mayor to give back to the community that supported me. I want to be the Mayor of Antioch for the purpose of serving the community and making it a better place to live, work, and play. I have a long history of building strong successful teams that work well together. I have a long history of planning and executing long term plans and budgets. I am not a politician. It isn't about me -- I am not even taking my stipend -- I am going to donate it to charity. I have a long history of working with and for others. I am a mom who wants to see how my tax dollars are spent, better facilities for my kids and senior neighbors rather than out of town developers, and that the police are respected.