Mary Holzkopf: 2021 candidate for Huntley Village Board
Newcomer Mary Holzkopf 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, John M. Piwko and JR Westberg, and challenger Burt Natkins.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates several questions about issues facing the village.
Below are Holzkopf'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.
For more election coverage, visit dailyherald.com.
Five candidates running for three, 4-year seats
Occupation: Bakery owner
Civic involvement: I own a business in town where my main goal for the business is to give back to my community. This last year, we hosted a fundraiser for the local food pantry where we raised and donated almost $10,000, as well as almost 10,000 pieces of food; collected and donated over 100 baskets to local children in hospice; hold a coat drive; and donated 100% of our tips every month to a different nonprofit organization. We pride ourselves on being a safe place where community members can come if they need a helping hand or a friendly conversation. Most recently I have set up a paid internship program for young adults in the special education program at the local high school so they can gain work experience while being paid a fair wage in a safe environment. In 2019, I was awarded the McHenry County Everyday Hero Award. In 2020, I was awarded the Huntley Legion's "There Should Be More People Like You" award. Cub Scout leader for 5 years.
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 stance on the pandemic has remained fluid as the information from governing agencies has continued to evolve. The guidelines from these agencies are exactly that: guidelines. It is our responsibility to take these guidelines and apply them in a practical fashion so commerce in the village may continue despite the adverse circumstances.
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 am incredibly proud of our local businesses and community members for the manner in which they handled the pandemic. Businesses set up tents outdoors, offered curbside pickup, and began delivery services in an attempt to stay afloat. Our village supported these businesses by granting permits for these extended outdoor seating areas to remain erect while restrictions were in place. Our community members supported our local businesses with passion, heart, and dedication that I can't fully put into words.
I would have liked to see the village work more closely with our local banks to offer seminars to local businesses who desperately needed the assistance of the Paycheck Protection Program and SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to stay afloat. I also would have liked to see more support from our local chamber. While a listing of local businesses open for takeout/delivery was circulated, not all the information on that listing was accurate or kept up-to-date.
In the future, I feel it would be beneficial to appoint an advocate to aid our local businesses during challenging times.
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: The village should not be making decisions on future public health crises without consulting the CDC and public health authorities who are both educated and equipped to best handle these situations. It is, however, up to the village to take the information they gain from these authorities and to set up protocols to keep their community members safe.
I can't speak to what these protocols would be without knowing the type of health crisis we're dealing with as well as speaking to local health authorities. COVID-19 is not the first pandemic and it most likely won't be the last. I feel appointing a village advocate for any future health crises would aid in moving the information from the proper officials to our community members in a quick and efficient manner.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: In order to answer this question, I feel it's important to know exactly what the financial burden of the pandemic was on our taxpayers. It would be irresponsible of me to answer this question without knowing the type of funds we are trying to recoup. I feel that it's always in everyone's best interest to continuously assess and revise the budget, and to make sure we are eliminating wasteful spending wherever possible.
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: My primary focus is bringing businesses to our village. Consistent with that, seeing the development of the Huntley Metra station would be my biggest priority. Funding for the project will be a combined effort from both public and private sources as well as exhausting all available grants to mitigate any costs that could potentially be passed on to the taxpayers. In a time where maintaining and increasing village revenue is critical, I don't feel like any current projects should be put on the back burner.
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: Recreational marijuana sales have brought Illinois around $600 million in revenue in 2020 alone. If our town is looking for additional ways to create tax dollars, statistics show that recreational marijuana sales is a way to do this. If that is a stance the village is going to take, I feel we need to make sure we have appropriate safeguards in place which include (but are not limited to) keeping these stores appropriately secured, armed, and at appropriate distances from our local schools.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: One of my main emphases is on community outreach and education. One of my goals is to expand on some wonderful initiatives the village has already put into place (like their annual bicycle safety program) by also adding an emphasis on mental health, education, and awareness. Depression rates have tripled since COVID-19 struck, and I believe our town needs to come up with initiatives to aid our community members during their darkest times. One way we can do this is by hosting mental health seminars and giving community members direct access to services they may need.
In terms of community education, I believe more work needs to be done to explain to community members the importance of shopping local and keeping tax dollars within our town whenever possible. One way to better connect with the community would be to offer more options for viewing village hall meetings outside of the village hall page. We have social media platforms at our fingertips, and I believe utilizing that to reach more community members is essential.