Norbert J. Paprocki: 2021 candidate for Des Plaines City Council Ward 3
Four candidates are running for one four-year term in Des Plaines City Council, Ward 3.
City: Des Plaines
Occupation: Fabrication manager, FC Lighting St. Charles
Civic involvement: Attend 3rd Ward meeting when available (as far back as Laura Murphy) and city council meetings
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 Pandemic has presented many new problems to all parts of life, which we need to meet in a cohesive way. For the most part as a community in this area we need to follow state and county guide lines. That being said the city government must work within these guide lines and find ways to help our community. We must work with small business owners to help them maintain their stability. Restaurants for instants we need them to be open at a profitable level. We can do this as temperatures warm make it easier to open outdoor spaces. I believe there needs to be rules and regulations but I believe the city should not have any fees at this time. These areas need to be fair to the business and the area they serve. I also feel the city needs to provide a forum for all views. Out of these forums we have an opportunity to hear ideas or directions to go that the city may have not thought of. Or we can take bits and pieces of several ideas and go in a different direction. In short when able to work with in the frame work of the state and county we should but we also need to work for what's best for Des Plaines even if we need to make some waves to change views.
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 the city responded well to the pandemic. Again, this was uncharted waters at first. Everything was closed down but as time passed knowledge was acquired and science was followed, we began to open. In the early months we closed public areas and limited many things. The council moved to Zoom meetings. City hall open I believe by appointment with limited access to the building. In mid to late summer the Aquatic Center was opened at Prairie Lakes with limited access. In November for the presidential election early voting was handle very well and the line moved quickly at the library. I personally did not see any service interruption I our areas. I also saw public works working on emergency projects when needed. So as a whole I believe the city responded well and park district was good.
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: Increase education and awareness of how this disease is transmitted. Continue practical and safe sanitation practices. I read that every year one-two viruses a year spillover from animals to humans. This is caused by deforestation in other parts of the world. We must learn and know what trade in wildlife legal and illegal does to increase transmission of these viruses. We must invest in policing wildlife trade around the world. Country's need to monitor the proximity of large populations of animals to large populated areas which should limit the ease of transmission quickly. We must contain the spread of these areas until we are certain of what we are dealing with. On a local level I believe the government needs to be better prepared for this type of event with stock piles of PPE and equipment to inoculate large number of people quickly. I think we learned to have a plan to do this in the future. Right now, we are learning as we go by seeing what doesn't work and what does. The U.S. is very diverse it's not one size fits all what works in the Midwest might not work in the Southeast so there will be many different plans at state and county levels
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: This to me is going to be very tuff to do. Over the past 10 years in Des Plaines, we have become much more financially responsible. We have the casino but casino revenues can be very volatile and I don't feel they can be counted on. All government levels will need to move to the lean side of budgeting. I think everything will need to be on the table. We will need to maintain a hiring freeze and not fill open positions. Limiting of overtime pay and other expensive will need to be controlled closely. Some less important projects may be put on hold or canceled all to gather. We will be having the same problems of all cities and towns of open store fronts and shrinking tax bases. As we work through our budget commitments, we will need to very surgical in cuts to services to the community. One thing I think Des Plaines has going for it is it s location. We have had a great deal of change in the last several years in the downtown area and we will need to continue with this panel to reap the benefits. To be honest I can't say exactly until I have studied the full budget.
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: I believe we need to continue the municipal garage project for the police fleet. We have been working on this for many years and believe we should complete this. I also believe we need to continue our trend to financial responsibility by only doing project we can pay for or by obtaining grants from the state and federal government. I also feel we need to move forward on flood control for the city this has been moved forward greatly but we need to continue to improve this. Other projects such as sidewalk repair and some city beautification project will need to be put on hold until we can recover a more normal life style. I can't emphasize this enough that the next council will have a tuff job to move forward in very uncertain times. Almost every project will need to be reviewed we are very fortunate the city has a stable management staff due to our form of government and we will need to work together to make the right cuts and make sure we continue our most important projects fully funded.
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 personally agree with where the councils stand on recreational marijuana. I believe this is a great opportunity to generate revenue for the city. I don't believe we have anyone at this time interested or applying for permits but I think the city is positioned well in this area. This will give the residence of the city time to speak out well in advance of the issue. I have heard that several other municipalities in our area have started to reconsider their position not to allow these businesses in their towns. The amount of revenue recreational marijuana sales has generated over this past year has completely surpassed all estimates. So far there has not been to many negative to these sales. We need to continue to watch the situation as time passes. Even when and if we get an application, the council will have the opportunity review the application at that time.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I would like to see what else can be done to help seniors more in Des Plaines. I know we have the senior center and we have a transportation program with taxis but I feel we could do more. I also believe we have tried providing a bus in the past. I think this is some thing that I would like to pursue. I have found it can be very difficult for seniors to get transportation to and from appointments. If you are wheelchair bound it becomes even more difficult. Some transport companies have a limit to what floor they'll take you in a hospital. So, when we can I would like to look for funds the help seniors and the handicapped remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. These people have worked long and hard and I feel we should try and take better care of them when they need assistance. I think its society responsibility to work with the community provide access to transportation to this segment of our population.