Bradley Judd: 2021 candidate for Rolling Meadows City Council, Ward 4
2 Candidates -- 1 seat
Hometown: Rolling Meadows
Occupation: Equities and Options Broker
Employer: TD Ameritrade/Schwab
Civic involvement: Rolling Meadows Alderman 4th Ward, 2009-2017; Zoning Board of Appeals Rolling Meadows, 2008-2009; Adult Bell Choir and Adult Choir, All Saints Lutheran Church
Q. What is the primary reason you're running for office? What is the most important issue?
A. I'm very concerned about our residents and their money and tax bills. So, I'll focus on delivering the services our residents want, within our budget. Keeping costs in line is of utmost importance, especially during a time when many residents have been impacted by the current events of the pandemic. We, on the Council in 2008 after the housing crisis were able to provide services within our budget. Additionally, we made the City financially stable with minimal service impacts. Having a financially stable entity living within its means serving all residents at the best cost is the ultimate goal.
Q. Given the upcoming sale of the Arlington racetrack just outside of town, what kind of development would you prefer to see as a replacement?
A. Obviously with this being confined to Arlington Heights we here in Rolling Meadows have little to no say in what AH approves or seeks for the property. That being said I would prefer to see a mixed use development that includes single family housing as well as condominiums and townhouses. I think the property is well positioned to take advantage of the Arlington Park train station and create another downtown environment with multi story residences built up and above commercial including restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and shopping similar than that of the Domain in Austin Texas. This would include open areas for walking and gathering as well as minimal vehicular traffic. There would need to be some parking garages but much of the parking for residents should be underground to utilize the space and also for the safety and security of the residents. There could also be so open green space for parks and sporting events. Depending on the make up of the property one could envision some low rise office structures on the western side of the property.
Q. How should the city of Rolling Meadows proceed in trying to influence any development of Arlington Park?
A. I think the City of RM should have a seat at the table for a couple reasons. The City of RM has jurisdictional control of Rohlwing Rd north of Euclid Rd which borders the west side of the property. Any access would surely impact the road and intersections associated with such. As well, the City has MABAS agreements with AH and Palatine and due to the proximity of the RM fire station on Hicks one could see a significant rise in the calls we will get, which may require additional resources. This is something that needs to be considered as the City of RM will not be getting any tax revenue to help with these costs. Most likely the development will be in school districts 214 and 15 which will help with the cost associated with additional students but again the impact on roads needs to be resolved. Having some kind of tax revenue sharing albeit as a small percentage should be the goal as AH is better able to handle the additional costs than RM. Making sure this is a win and not a loss for the City of RM financially should be considered by AH in order to have a good relationship
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. At this point in the pandemic I think that yielding to state officials, and at times federal, is the proper action. We do not want to risk the health and well-being of our residents, but we do want to get people back to work. Having a consistent cohesive approach across states or counties makes much more sense than each municipality setting their own rules. In light of the fact that often times the municipal boundaries are blurred, I believe consistency across counties and states is important. Without consistency, there could be issues of residents not knowing municipal-specific ordinances which could ultimately create resentment, and lead to bad press as we saw with some red light cameras.
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. From what I can tell and from what I heard, I believe there were minimal disruptions to City services. The staff set up multiple safeguards for both employees and residents that needed to conduct City business. Having staff run split shifts to minimize exposure while having other staff work from home allowed residents to get done what they needed while keeping both City residents and staff safe.
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. I think from a City perspective we did a very good job. We followed the guidelines we were given by state which were based on the science and designed to help us stay safe while continuing needed services. Again having a cohesive and consistent approach was and is paramount, and I think the state, county and federal governments made good decisions with the information they had at the time. I believe that future health crises will be met with swifter action regarding potentially closing areas to prevent the spreading of a virus, as well as quicker more deliberate restrictions to social distancing and the wearing of masks. But those directives need to come from a state or federal level, not from municipalities in some hodgepodge setup.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. We need to be prudent with our funds. In light of the pandemic, tax revenue is lower in many categories and might not recover soon. Keeping costs in line is necessary. It's also crucial to not spend 'discretionary' funds that don't need to be spent. Adding unnecessary costs and using reserves to cover them just doesn't make sense. Those reserves are designed to allow the City to provide current services without raising fees and taxes. Also, to smooth out the rough times due to things beyond the City's control, like the COVID crisis. Hiring personnel with salaries, pension, and insurance should only be done as a necessity to fill vacancies. The current proposal to add a new Assistant City Manager position is foolhardy. Our city is well-managed within our current head count level. We simply cannot afford to further increase our salary, benefits and pension costs at this time when our funding levels are hurting. Additionally, we should take a closer look at our legal costs, which have risen 50-65% over the last couple of years. Scrutinizing our budget to ensure we're spending our money wisely is good practice, just as it is for any household.
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. The current state of the old Central Road Public Works building, and the Police station are two big projects that will need to be addressed soon. The Public Works building has been in disarray for years. And, the Police Station and Shooting Range have fallen woefully inadequate. Soon, the state will most likely step in and force us to bring it up to current standards. Making those decisions when we can study alternatives and make educated decisions is better than doing so under pressure from higher authorities. Each should be paid through bonds, which is most prudent as it keeps the costs down while spreading them out over time and project usage. Because of strong decisions we made years ago, our current City bond ratings are great. Between this and the current interest rate environment we should be able to tackle these projects while keeping the costs to our residents down. Buying additional city property and expanding city buildings, except as absolutely necessary, should be placed on hold. Needed infrastructure projects such as roads that would otherwise deteriorate should continue albeit maybe at a slower pace otherwise, it'll cost more in the future. And, contractors might offer better pricing now, since their work demands are less.
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. I agree with our stance on recreational marijuana having voted to approve it when on the Council and it was restricted to medicinal purposes only. We were able to place a tax on it that helped with the expenses of the City without costing the residents. To date there has been no major issues with the facility even after switching to both clientele over the course of the 5 years in the community. It has been a good setup that has benefited the City and some of its residents while not costing us so at this time there is nothing I would change with the current arrangement.
Q. hat's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. We need to start the process of studying the Police station and its needs. As mentioned earlier, we soon expect the federal government to require us to bring the station up to current code. Best to start now. This way, we can understand what our options are, decide on our best one, and begin to implement the decision. If we delay, there is a strong likelihood that we'd make a poor decision, suffer from more mistakes, and incur additional expenses due to delays and corrections. Also, beginning now will reduce our expenses from continually repairing the station, only to see it then torn down. And, preparing to move before bond rages go back up would save our residents money.
Another opportunity -- We need to better utilize the new computer system that the City installed a few years ago to streamline our procedures and provide better services to the residents without added costs.