Shaunak Dave: 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: Industrial Engineer, Technology Sales
Civic involvement: Batavia High School Volleyball Parent Rep, Batavia HS Boosters Club, Volley for the Cure, Dig Pink, Hesed House, Lazarus House, Feed My Starving Children, campaigning/phone banking for Lauren Underwood, Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock
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. First, my role is to be visibly active, present and be part of the solution to confront the pandemic. Then, I will provide factual and truthful information based on medicine and science and I will work to reduce or remove disinformation. Lastly, I would recommend that my constituents get a COVID vaccine as soon as it's available. It will save your life or a loved one's.
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. In the context and perspective of an out-of-control, 100 year pandemic, the answer is yes. The City of Batavia followed federal and state guidelines on the COVID-19 response and the city has a coronavirus website that provides updated information on COVID-19. That said, my younger daughter was a Batavia HS Class of 2020 graduate. For example, graduation day was moved from May 20, 2020 from an inside venue at NIU Convocation Center to August 8, 2020 to an outside venue at Bulldog Stadium. It wasn't the moment she expected, but it was still her moment. Was it perfect? No, but in the context and perspective of an out-of-control, 100 year pandemic, it was an unprecedented day, the school made it happen and we will cherish that moment.
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. First, I would rely on trustworthy news sources whose reporting and journalism is based on science, medicine, facts and truth. Then, I would lead by example and follow the safeguards/guidelines recommended by community scientists and doctors and by the World Health Organization, CDC, Illinois Department of Health and Kane County Department of Health. Lastly, I would amplify that messaging with constituents. For example, with COVID-19, I mask up, back up and wash up. Following the rules makes me caring and responsible. I'm not living in fear. I'm an adult contributing to the security in our town and I want to be part of the solution, not the problem. If I can help someone, I ask myself what I can do to help him/her a little. Caring shouldn't be so controversial.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. If local governments are faced with the choice of "cut spending," it will increase the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers.
According to a May 26, 2020 study by the Center of American Progress, "Local governments employ 14.5 million people, including the overwhelming majority of first responders and teachers. The jobs and pay of nearly half a million firefighters, 900,000 police officers, 1 million hospital and health care workers, and more than 5 million teachers who work in local governments are on the line without federal fiscal intervention." That means, without federal assistance, local governments will have to reduce the services they provide like police and fire protection, health care services, and the work of teachers to constituents to cope with the effects of the pandemic. And, without federal aid, spending cuts drive furloughs and layoffs, which reduce consumer spending, which further the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers. Again, in the context and perspective of an out-of-control, 100 year pandemic, there is a need for an infusion of federal aid to local governments to respond to the public health crisis and bring local government out of the economic challenges it now faces.
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. Since the Batavia Riverwalk was built from 1990 to 1998, little has been done to improve the riverfront until 2016.
In September 2020, the Batavia Park District and the City of Batavia have a plan to execute 3 projects -- (1) removal of the Batavia Dam, (2) preservation of the Depot Pond and (3) creation of a master plan for the Batavia portion of the Fox River corridor.
To pay for the master plan, the city and park district could allocate funds to from its own budget to pay for expertise and uniquely qualified services needed for this project
To pay for the removal of the dam, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has funding to remove all of these types of dams on the Fox River.
There are health and safety reasons to execute the three projects. Since these projects are complementary and part of a holistic plan, they can be achieved in a phased approach.
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 agree with the stance on permitting recreational marijuana sales in Batavia because it creates a new revenue stream for Batavia, which would really help at a time like this. Also, in November 2020, 63% of voters supported it. That's pretty overwhelming support by a 2-to-1 margin. But, the city has been slow to zone for it. And, that could be driven by disinformation. So, I would work with the city council to change that stance.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. My daughters played volleyball, which is an amazing sport that develops strong, confident smart, independent and critically thinking young women. At the start of every club season, they each get two pairs of volleyball shoes -- a pair for practice and a pair for matches. Then, the following season, they each get two more pairs. Most of the match shoes are in pretty good shape at the end of the season. I would like to donate those shoes after cleaning them and adding fresh laces to girls in need in the Fox Valley area. It would be neat to see younger girls literally walk in the same shoes as the older girls who would be role models for them. I'd call it "Amazing Feats" because the girls do some pretty amazing feats with their feet on the volleyball court! And, it would be great if an app could match those girls with these shoes.