Mark V. Urda: 2021 candidate for Naperville City Council
Challenger Mark V. Urda, one of 11 candidates running for four 4-year terms on Naperville City Council, responds to the Daily Herald candidate questionnaire for the April 6, 2021, local elections.
In-person early voting with paper ballots is now available at the DuPage County Fairgrounds Building 5, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. In-person early voting with touch-screen voting begins March 22 at locations throughout the county. Learn more at www.dupageco.org/earlyvoting/.
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Occupation: Control System Integrator at Synergy Systems Inc.
Civic involvement: Naperville Historic Preservation Commission since 2016, Opt-In for Cannabis Dispensaries and Save Kroehler Mansion
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: As an elected representative it is always required to listen to the concerns of residents even those with whom you may disagree. This input must be weighed against the science to determine the best course for the community.
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 would say that Naperville was very successful at maintaining services during the pandemic. The city council suspended some business and fees to provide some limited relief to some small businesses. Very recently, the city established a utility grant program for seniors and small businesses affected by COVID-19.
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 that the city performance during COVID serves as an excellent template going forward. In particular the city was very active in promoting wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing, The city also provided excellent an example by operating remotely and taking city meetings to Zoom to continue to provide critical city services while being socially distanced. Using Fire Department EMTs to help administer vaccines when they become available could also be useful.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: Finance Director Rachel Mayer outlined in the 2020 year-end report that the city was able to operate successfully in spite of reduced income by delaying capital spending instead of reducing services, and this would be my preferred approach to any future issue.
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 think that 248th Avenue Improvement Project is the most important infrastructure project to address. This is most important because of the traffic concerns associated with the building of the Islamic Center of Naperville. The city is following a design process that will allow it to access state and federal funds in addition to local funds for this project, and I fully support this approach.
The Fifth Avenue Project should be delayed not only for economic reasons but because of the uncertainty about when and how many commuters will return to using the station which directly impacts how many parking structures will be needed which is a significant part of this proposed project.
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the stance the council has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A: I was actively involved in support of allowing recreational marijuana sales in Naperville because I believe that since it was made Illinois law that we should be able to fund our first responders with the resultant tax revenue to deal with any cannabis-related medical or legal issues. I stand by that stance and the most recent crime report indicates an increase in cannabis related crime such as possession and public use, and we have the additional tax revenue to adequately handle this increase.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I support the addition of hybrid police vehicles to the Naperville police force. Police cars when on duty are never turned off to enable quick response to dispatch, and hybrid vehicles save gasoline when standing by on electric. Since the same engines are used in hybrid and regular police vehicles there is no loss in vehicle pursuit performance.