Nicholas Cerone: 2021 candidate for Batavia City Council, Ward 6
Incumbent Nicholas Cerone and challenger Shaunak Dave are running for one, 4-year seat in Ward 6 on the Batavia City Council.
Occupation: Salesman, Marketing and Payroll Services
Civic involvement: Alderman for the last eight years; on the Board of Batavia Main Street; member of Batavia Chamber of Commerce
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. I feel my role is very limited. We are bound to uphold the State's mandates. However, I believe the city's leaders did a great job of leading by example, creating safe ways for residents to interact with staff, and providing masks to people when they weren't readily available.
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 relieved to report that Batavia faired much better than many other communities as far as the number of cases of COVID-19. As far as services provided, I am proud to report that there were very few services affected by the pandemic. Our police and fire departments have been busier than ever, but have stepped up, like always. City Hall has continued to operate with some adjustments to make sure human contact was minimized, and employees and residents stayed safe.
The area that should constantly be improved is to better communicate and direct people to the appropriate mental health and social services available to those in need. This pandemic put an incredible strain on people in many areas of their lives.
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. This experience has permanently changed the way many things will be done in the future. That holds true for business, education, social interactions, as well as city services and local government. The process to which we communicate would be the main thing that I would look to address and systemize. That includes the communication between Batavia, the Kane County Health Department, the State, and the Federal Government. If we put good systems in place, they will help to eradicate health issues instead of making them polarizing political issues.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. We are constantly looking for cuts, and ways to continue high levels of service while maintaining a low tax base for the residents. Our Financial department under the leadership of Peggy Colby has done a phenomenal job over the years to maintain a lean budget and build a healthy reserve. We were able to hold the City's portion of real estate taxes steady for the third straight year, despite the pandemic last year. My belief is that you handle financial crises before they happen by planning and saving for those dark days; because of that belief, we are navigating these stormy waters better than most of other communities.
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. We are constantly discussing the prioritizing and financing of infrastructure projects. Our Public Works Department, along with the Streets, Sanitation, Water, etc., all have infrastructure needs that we are addressing. They range from immediate to long-term needs and will be addressed. The most common project that residents bring up is the one that is on the back burner -- a second bridge. We can use a second bridge to better direct traffic through our downtown. However, the cost is prohibitive at this time. When the pandemic is over, we can review our financial situation, and see what financial assistance may be available to us from the state or federal governments.
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 initially voted against allowing retail sales of marijuana because I see Batavia as a family community, and I worry about the message being sent to our children. We took the vote to referendum, and two-thirds of the community voted to allow it. With the support of the referendum, it is here to stay.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. When I have ideas to better the community, we talk about them. Our whole council is made up of 14 bright members of this community. We have created a council environment that is open and welcoming to new ideas. From beautification, pedestrian and bike friendliness, drawing visitors, etc. We are never short on ideas, and we certainly do not hold them back. I can confidently say that all 14 members of the council love this community and want what is best for it. We are also very welcoming to ideas from our residents.