Craig Takaoka: 2021 candidate for Vernon Hills trustee
Six candidates are vying for three four-year seats on the Vernon Hills village board. Two candidates did not respond.
City: Vernon Hills
Occupation: Manager, Channel MRI/CT/Ultrasound Sales
Employer: Hitachi Healthcare
Education: B.S. Marketing/Business Administration, Indiana University
Civic involvement: Vernon Hills Village Trustee (2017-Present), travel baseball coach (7 years), basketball coach (6 years) soccer coach (4 years), Stand Strong Coalition (2014-Present)
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 health and safety of the Vernon Hills residents and its businesses are the Village Board's top priority. Our role in confronting the pandemic is not only to ensure that the public and facilities follow CDC and the state of Illinois' COVID-19 guidelines mandated, but to communicate the latest Lake County updates to the seniors and others in the Village via links directly from its website. The Village Board also plays a role in fostering the exchange of vital pandemic related information through its membership in the Northwest Municipal Conference as well as the Lake County Municipal League. If you recall, Lake County was initially in a Region that included Cook County and the city of Chicago.
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: The Village Board has provided uninterrupted services throughout the pandemic and is providing needed relief to local restaurants via the Restaurant Assistance Program. This program provided the following: no fee extensions on 2020 licenses and permits, no fee outdoor dining permits, waving license, permit fees for 2021 and allowing retention of the 1% food and beverage tax for six months for qualifying businesses.
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: In addition to encouraging adhering to CDC, State and Lake County COVID-19 guidelines, the Village Board is safeguarding against any future public health crises by ensuring that thorough and routine inspections of food service facilities are conducted. This will actively guard against conditions that could contribute to future outbreaks of communicable diseases.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: Because of the strength of the Village financially, along with prudent fiscal management; no municipal tax has ever been levied against Vernon Hills residents. The pandemic has NOT changed this position at all. The Village has delivered on its promise to support local education by authorizing a $200,000 payment to the school district for the District 73 kindergarten center on Aspen Drive. We are very fortunate that the pandemic has not put our Village in any compromising financial position.
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 biggest infrastructure project being addressed in the Village is the $250 million dollar Hawthorn Mall redevelopment project. This project came with the approval by nearly all taxing bodies including D73 & D128. Other projects include the widening of Route 45, upgrading stormwater management and ensuring the delivery of 5G broadband cellular networks throughout the Village. The only infrastructure project on hold is the improvement of the Lakeview Parkway/Route 60/Hawthorn Parkway corridor. The Village has the funds set aside, but the State had to move this project back until 2023.
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: The COMMUNITY was firmly against the opening of a marijuana dispensary in Vernon Hills. We had a public hearing at Vernon Hills High School that included a statement from the principal Dr. Guillaume. The Village received phone calls, emails, petitions and letters asking the Village to opt out of allowing recreational sales of marijuana in town from almost 500 residents. If the COMMUNITY wanted the Village to change its position, then it would be reconsidered.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: The Village Board needs to formalize the process by which Community members can submit their ideas to the Village beyond emails and/or attending a board meeting. I would like to see once per quarter a time slot at a Committee of the Whole Meeting whereby two residents can formally present any idea they might have to improve the Village as a whole. Ideas would be submitted to the Asst. Village Manager and the Board would choose which ideas to be presented.