Carol Rauschenberger: 2021 candidate for Elgin City Council
11 candidates are running for four, 4-year seats on the Elgin City Council. One candidate, Marcus Banner, declined to participate.
Occupation: Occupational therapist
Employer: School District U-46
Civic involvement: Elgin Township Trustee, Elgin City Council, founder and volunteer for U-46 STEM Expo, community volunteer
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. Elgin does not have a health department that is capable of making fully informed decisions about a global pandemic. Therefore we looked to Kane County and State experts like Dr. Ezike to advise us. One of my first suggestions, working with Councilperson John Steffen last April, was to form a citywide COVID group/task force to keep city council informed of the situation in Elgin. Councilperson John Steffen convened that group which included the Police Chief, the Fire Chief, our health department, and the heads of the local hospitals etc. Fire Chief Cagann was assigned to collect information on a weekly basis which included number of reported COVID cases in the county and Elgin, COVID deaths, hospital beds available, ventilators available, PPP available etc. This group met once per week until late fall, and the information was shared with Elgin City Council weekly. With this information, I never felt Elgin was on the brink of disaster like other cities. Also as a leader, I felt it was my duty to model behavior in a pandemic which included socially distancing and wearing a mask as soon as I had one available to me.
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 believe that the City of Elgin and staff continued to serve the citizens of Elgin adequately during the pandemic through phone and on line services. Our police, fire and public service staffs remained intact taking pandemic precautions. A few services, such as rental inspections, remain furloughed. Our Parks and Recreation Department continues to limit their offerings and will continue to do so as vaccinations continue.
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 suggest 1) creating a closer relationship with our Kane County Health Department as they have the personnel that is trained and equipped to guide us. 2) We have a model to convene a citywide situational task force to keep the Elgin city staff and city council informed of any future possible situation. 3) I would create a situational team with our nonprofit community partners such as our food bank and homeless shelters to make sure they have adequate resources. 4) The City Manager and staff should be prepared again, to make budget cuts, where possible to meet any potential financial deficits.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. Elgin's City Manager made immediate managerial pay cuts and staff furloughs to manage the potential burden on taxpayers. In addition, due to the nature of the pandemic, cuts were made to the staff and programming in our Parks and Recreation Department. The city received approximately $5 million dollars in COVID relief funds that the city allocated to our police and fire pensions to alleviate a property tax increase. The city continues to negotiate with city unions to manage pay increases and services.
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. Maintaining our streets and roads remain on the forefront and the city will continue with our plans for repaving. The reconfiguration of our Dundee Summit intersection was put on hold in 2020, and we are proceeding cautiously with that project.
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 supported the stance Elgin took to permit marijuana sales in our city with some restrictions.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. The City of Elgin owns a number of open properties (land) on the Fox River in our downtown area. I am a proponent of attracting regional/national developers to consider higher density multiuse living and commercial developments in our downtown area. These type of developments will complement our "urban" downtown that is walkable, has a bike path and access to Chicago by train. Adding this type of housing to our community is both cost-effective and sustainable.