JR Westberg: 2021 candidate for Huntley Village Board
Two-term incumbent JR Westberg is one of five candidates vying for three, 4-year seats on the Huntley Village Board in the April 6, 2021 election. The other candidates are incumbents Ronda S. Goldman and John M. Piwko, and challengers Burt Natkins and Mary Holzkopf.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates several questions about issues facing the village.
Below are Westberg's responses.
In-person early voting begins March 10 only at the Kane County Clerk's Office, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Bldg. B, in Geneva and the Aurora satellite office, 5 E. Downer Place, Suite F. In-person early voting at locations throughout the county begins March 22. Learn more at www.kanecountyclerk.org/Elections.
Civic involvement: Village trustee 2013 to present; Huntley planning commission, 2011-13
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: My role is to support our local businesses as much as possible. Give them the tools to be successful during the pandemic. Extend outdoor seating, allow for variances for structured tents ... whatever it takes so they can sustain sales and stay here within the village.
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: We followed the CDC requirements for all our facilities. The village hall was outfitted with barriers to keep our residents and staff safe when acquiring permits and paying water bills. All village staff is required to wear masks.
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: It is best to leave additional guidelines to the experts. I will support any additional or new guidelines they propose.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: I have voted to keep the levy flat for the last 7 years. It is important to not add any additional financial burdens to our residents, not only during COVID-19, but in the years to come. Currently, our staff is below the recommended level per capita, both on the police department as well as public works divisions. I feel we can keep the same level of service without adding expenses at this time.
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: Kreutzer Road and bridge will be the largest infrastructure project since the construction of the hospital or I-90/Route 47 interchange. It includes straightening, widening as well as a bike path to connect to our existing paths. It is also an extension to Longmeadow Parkway. Other projects may include residential construction in areas that does not have underground utilities in which I will not support bonding that infrastructure. We run a tight, balanced budget so, at this time, there are no projects that I see need to be placed on the back burner.
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the stance your board has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A: When this was first presented, there was not enough data to convince me that this would be good for the community. Under state law, we could not restrict medical marijuana, but we did restrict recreational sales. We did, however, designate areas that could be a sales facility per the state guidelines.
Now that we have some data, I would like to consult with Police Chief Robert Porter on crime statistics and pull reports from the state as to what the other municipalities tax income is from the sales.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I've been asking for a central water feature that attracts residents for both summer and winter as a skating rink. I would also like to see if we can have a villagewide mesh Wi-Fi network. With students learning remotely, there may be some residents that could take advantage of such a network. We could also outfit the network with cameras for our police department in accident prone areas to assist with investigations. All of these are wishful ideas, but due to budget constraints they may never come to fruition.