Wendy Dunnington: 2021 candidate for Arlington Heights trustee
Six candidates for four 4-year terms
Hometown: Arlington Heights
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom; part-time classroom assistant and guest teacher in District 25. Previously: Credit analyst in commercial banking; auditor and financial analyst at the national office of the Alzheimer's Association, managing the $26 million direct marketing budget, which raised money for Alzheimer's care and research.
Civic involvement: First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights; United Methodist Women, Horizon Circle; PADS Emergency Shelter Program Volunteer; Missions Committee; Missions Chairperson (2014-2018); First United Methodist Preschool & We-e Care Program Board (2007-2011), Preschool Board Chairperson (2008-2011), Nominating Committee (2010-2020); JDRF One Walk; JDRF Illinois: Gala Committee (2020), One Walk Family Team Committee (2014 -2017); Forest Preserve of Cook County, Prairie Restoration Volunteer; Sweet Moms, Creator and Leader Type 1 diabetes Parent Support Group; League of Women Voters, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect & Buffalo Grove; Rolling Meadows High School PTO Executive Committee; Euclid Elementary School, Mount Prospect, student mentor; Westgate Elementary School PTA
Q. What is the primary reason you're running for office? What is the most important issue?
A. I'm running for Village Trustee because we need to have new voices on the Arlington Heights Village Board. I bring a different set of experiences than the other candidates in this race. Not only do I have experience analyzing business' financial statements and managing budgets, but for the last 14 years I have been volunteering hands-on in our local schools, my church and numerous nonprofits. I want the Village Board to do more to address the urgent issue of climate change. There's a lot we can do at the local level. We also need to increase our efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion so that Arlington Heights is a more welcoming community. Finally, we need to make sure Arlington Heights stays affordable to ensure we remain a family-friendly community and to ensure our seniors can afford to stay in the community.
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. It's always important to give a voice to all constituents. I do support the Illinois Restore plan, although it's important to recognize that we are not all in the same situation in regards to the pandemic. Some were fortunate enough to be able to easily transition to working at home and some businesses had record sales during the pandemic. Unfortunately many others lost their jobs and their health care, businesses were forced to close or reduce hours, kids vying for sports and music scholarships couldn't play and child care was a big issue for families. The pandemic revealed many inequities including the need for paid sick leave and a living wage for essential workers.
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. Yes, the Village did an excellent job with the opening of Arlington Alfresco. I would like to see Arlington Alfresco continue permanently, even after the pandemic. Arlington Heights should take the opportunity now to do a Complete Streets plan for the downtown. A Complete Streets plan ensures that the area is designed for safe use and supports mobility for all users whether they are traveling as drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists or public transportation users.
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. Arlington Heights should assure that high-quality services, including personal health services, needed for the protection of public health in the community are available and accessible to all persons. The Village should work to ensure that the community receives proper consideration in the allocation of federal and state as well as local resources for public health. In addition, it's extremely important that the community is informed about how to obtain public health, including personal health services, or how to comply with public health requirements. Lead contamination is an important local public health issue. Arlington Heights should be working with residents to identify and replace lead service lines to homes with older service lines to their homes. The Village should start with more lead testing in the community.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. I don't think cutting services during a pandemic makes fiscal sense. Arlington Heights should continue to fulfill their obligations to education, local aid, and protecting our children, seniors, and our environment. I believe cuts would harm our middle and working-class residents or our small businesses. It will be more important to raise new revenue by welcoming new businesses and new developments of homes in the medium priced range.
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'm concerned about the sewers and water main breaks in Arlington Heights. In the 2021 budget, the Village reported that "Water main breaks are used as an indicator of system condition. According to the American Water Works Association, water utilities should strive for between 25 and 30 water main breaks per 100 miles of water main per year. Over the last six years, the Village is averaging 88 breaks per 100 miles of water main." The village has been working on solutions on preventive measures to extend the existing life of our water mains. Additional investment in our water infrastructure is going to be important so we don't waste clean drinking water and we protect public health. I believe the investment will create jobs and fuel our economy. This year the Village has budgeted to spend $4 million to upgrade the Village ERP Software. If budget cuts are needed because of the pandemic and/or sewer and water infrastructure, I would look to see if this software upgrade can wait a year or two until we see financial recovery from the pandemic.
Q. Do you agree or disagree with the stance your municipality has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A. The Village Board should have initially approved recreational marijuana the first time it came to a vote in 2019. The Village missed out on months of sales tax revenue from the sale of marijuana in our village because of the failure to approve. The current approval of marijuana sales at Veriflife is an 18 month pilot program. I would permanently approve recreational marijuana sales and support an additional business in the community.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. The Village of Arlington Heights uses the state of Illinois building codes. Since the state legislative process often moves slowly, this is where Arlington Heights can step in and make a big difference for climate change by updating their building codes with green building codes, When approving new construction projects and the renovation of certain existing buildings, Arlington Heights should provide incentives for businesses and developers that employ sustainable design practices to promote energy conservation. Important green building practices could include:
• Green roofs
• Reuse of materials and use of recycled materials
• Using WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures
• Installing a greywater or stormwater harvesting system
• Installing automatic lighting controls
• Using on-site renewable energy
• Native landscaping