William R. Beiersdorf: 2021 candidate for Arlington Heights trustee
Six candidates for four 4-year terms
Hometown: Arlington Heights
Occupation: Executive Director of Veteran and Family Center
Employer: Rush University Medical Center
Civic involvement: Arlington Heights Rotary Club; American Legion Post No. 208; Knights of Columbus Holy Rosary Council No. 4483; active in the veterans community in Illinois and nationally; volunteer with PADS, Frontier Days and St. James Parish; St. James School board; parent of three Eagle Scouts in Boy Scout Troop 166
Q. What is the primary reason you're running for office? What is the most important issue?
A. After 28 years of being a homeowner and resident of Arlington Heights, I feel it is time to pay it forward and offer up my knowledge, skills, and abilities to help build upon the work our current and past village leaders have initiated. The Arlington Heights community is a very special place, with people that care, and I have seen this firsthand since my wife (Mary Beth) and I moved to Arlington Heights. I have had the privilege of serving and participating in various civic, faith, and veteran organizations here in Arlington Heights, and I want to continue my service to our community, as a trustee of our village. I realize that our village faces multiple challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on our community, economic concerns, maintaining a safe and secure community, work on diversity, equity, and inclusion, infrastructure needs, and others, But as we address each of these challenges, it will be essential that we search for solutions that are based on those shared values that our community embraces. Values such as respect, collaboration, innovation, accountability and empowerment will be critical to ensuring that the solutions we work toward will truly address the challenges we face.
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 COVID-19 pandemic has been a real test and challenge for all of us, and regardless of one's role and responsibilities, we are all in this together. As I work in the health care field, providing mental health services to veterans and their families, I have seen firsthand the challenges, and hardships that COVID-19 has brought to this and all communities, and as decisions have been made, some with good results, others with not so good results, I believe that we have collectively tried to find the right pathways forward in addressing this horrible pandemic. As we move to a hopeful -- post-COVID-19 environment, it will be critical and essential that we all take time to reflect, assess, and learn from this experience and be prepared for future public health challenges that will surely arise.
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 our village leaders, those in village government, local businesses, civic and faith communities have sought out ways in battling and learning how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Finding ways to keep all residents safe has been a driving force, and as decisions have been made on stay at home orders, limiting gatherings, mask wearing, social distancing, and others, I believe our village government leaders have done a great job in working through and finding solutions to address the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the partnership of village government and business leaders took on coming up with Arlington Alfresco highlighted ways to help local restaurants and businesses keep their doors open during the pandemic. One other thought on this topic is that, given Arlington Heights strong financial foundation, the village has been able to keep its core costs down, from limiting annual increases of its tax levy (no increases the past two years), holding off on filling vacant positions in various village departments, and other measures. These actions have been of great value of limiting costs to the residents, homeowners, and businesses in Arlington Heights.
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. COVID-19 has challenged all of us in every aspect of our daily lives, from how we work, our needs at home, the health care needs, and others. It will be critical as we move forward that we take time to learn about what worked and what did not, as there will be future challenges we will face. Collaboration will be a key value as we move forward, as Arlington Heights should strengthen its communications and relationships with other neighboring villages, and ensure that we have strong relationships with our state and federal health and human services agencies as it relates to the public health needs of all our residents. Along with learning and preparing for future health crises, we should also support our local health care organizations, and advocate for them on needs they may have in serving our communities when the next public health crisis arises.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. Given the current state and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, our village government leaders should look at all opportunities to reduce the burden on all taxpayers, such as considering the waiving or reduction of fees for permits and licensing, a freeze of the local sales tax levy, and any other possible relief for homeowners and business owners here in Arlington Heights. I know that the village has held the line on not increasing its annual tax rate levy, limited the hiring of open positions in various departments, and I believe they have waived some permit and licensing fees, but going forward, we as a village should be resolute and focused on trying to hold down the costs that would be borne by all taxpayers.
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. There is a wide of variety of infrastructure needs we have as a village, such as replacing and updating aging water mains, flood prevention projects, road resurfacing and sidewalk replacement, the current Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) project that will link all village departments with one software application platform, allowing for more streamlining of processes and communications among village departments, and I know there are other needs we have as a village. I believe that each of these infrastructure needs are essential to the long-term growth and viability of our village, and I also believe that our current village leaders have created a solid and secure financial environment, as best as one can be, to pursue these projects to their completion. If economic challenges should persist, due to COVID-19 or other factors that may arise, then we should consider reprioritizing all of these projects, but we should proceed and be thoughtful in making those decisions.
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. As I did not agree with the permitting of recreational marijuana sales in Arlington Heights, I do understand and appreciate the needs we have for finding new revenue sources, and the emerging societal acceptance of marijuana's recreational use. I still have concerns about the messages we are sending to our youth and others, as we as a community, state, and country battle alcohol and substance abuse. Given that we have approved recreational use of marijuana, I believe we should continue and expand educational and awareness campaigns about the risks that may exist. I understand that marijuana is used for individual medial needs, and I am not against that, in fact we should continue to learn and research the value and relief this brings to individuals battling various illnesses, but my concern arises with our youth who may begin to experiment with marijuana and those unknown long-term effects of using marijuana.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. As I spoke with residents in gathering signatures for my petitions, I heard many ideas on ways to improve our village, and one comment that resonated among many residents was about unity, and finding ways to build upon our core values in addressing such challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic, economic concerns, infrastructure needs, and others. Values of respect, collaboration, innovation, accountability and empowerment, as it these values that will give us the foundation and focus to make decisions that will benefit current and future Arlington Heights residents, homeowners, and business owners. And that one idea I have of how to make Arlington Heights better, would focus on finding ways for the village and all of our communities to address the challenges of mental health, and especially how we can address the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic going forward. All of our communities have suffered with this pandemic, from our residents, business owners, schools (students and staff), our police and fire personnel, and others. We need to keep this on the radar and I will do so as it's in all of our interest to make sure that no one is left behind as this pandemic hopefully ends.