David Pileski: 2021 candidate for Roselle mayor
With first-term Mayor Andy Maglio not seeking reelection, village trustees David Pileski and Wayne D. Domke and newcomer Pete Pellegrino are running in the April 6 election to succeed him in leading Roselle.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates several questions about issues facing the village.
Below are Pileski's responses.
In-person early voting with paper ballots begins Feb. 25 at 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/.
Three mayoral candidates running for one, 4-year term
Occupation: Manager regional inventory, W.W. Grainger
Civic involvement: Elected village trustee (2017-present); former zoning board of appeals member; chairman, Roselle Community Food Pantry and longtime volunteer; board member, University of Illinois Extension Office Region 5 Advisory Board; and former board member, Lake Park High School Educational Foundation
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 mayor, it's imperative to provide leadership during any serious event. It's important to advocate for the community to ensure that policy decisions being made at the county, state and federal level benefit the public. Given this is the first pandemic our local community has confronted in a century, it is important to follow the science. It's important to maintain transparency with the public as decisions are made and solicit opinions to help advocate for changes. I'm proud to have relationships and the support of various elected officials at different levels of government enabling me to facilitate those conversations and changes.
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 incredibly proud of how our village staff were able to adapt to the pandemic. We engaged with our private business community to secure additional PPE for our first responders. Building upgrades in village hall were made to protect the health of residents and employees to keep in-person operations running. When infection rates were at their peak, we were able to transition to virtual operations. To facilitate a productive virtual environment, the village digitized physical files to the cloud, which allowed the permit process to continue unimpeded. We also migrated village board meeting to Zoom giving us the opportunity to stream live and post recordings increasing accessibility for the public. This will continue post pandemic with the installation of a new video system in village hall paid for with CARES Act money.
I still believe there is room for improvement. I'd like to see us bolster our virtual self-service channels for residents who are inclined to do their business online. Having more user-friendly forms would be a gain for residents and businesses with or without a pandemic. In addition, I'd like to see an expansion of our service request portal to be a generic feedback app that allows residents to send in infrastructure, zoning, and other concerns to the village and have on demand updates on the progress to address those concerns.
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 believe we should identify procedures, guidelines and supplies required for a variety of potential emergency situations. These types of events are unpredictable and should not rely on institutional memory alone to manage through it. Documenting procedures and executing table top exercises across all village departments and other authorities such as the local fire departments, DuPage County Health, Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Departments among other ensures better prepared staff response when the next event occurs.
In addition, during the pandemic, more village transactions and employees moved to a virtual setting greatly increasing our digital risk exposure. I believe the village needs to bolster our cyber security to prevent sensitive data from being stolen or critical systems being hacked and abused. Just this month (February), a municipality with a population of 15K in Florida had their water treatment plant hacked and manipulated. We need to remain vigilant to the secondary risks that occur when we have a dramatic shift in our business operations.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: Roselle right sized itself after the Great Recession and has practiced fiscal sustainability since. During the pandemic, the village board was able to immediately halt all noncritical capital projects and asset purchases to reduce the budget impact on the community. We delayed the resident deadline to purchase vehicle stickers, backdated Metra parking permit refunds to the start of the pandemic, halted utility shut offs and waived portions of business license fees to provide financial relief to Roselle. As a result of those efforts and the federal CARES Act money received, we finished the year in the black.
When we passed our 2021 budget in December, we were able to use the revenue data during the pandemic to help us properly forecast revenue. New equipment including nonessential upgrades and vehicles should continue to be delayed. However, we cannot afford to pause or greatly reduce infrastructure projects further without detrimental impact to the residents who rely on core services such as safe streets, clean water and waste water treatment. A special committee was tasked earlier this year to review further relief for the business community, including waiving a portion or delaying licensing fees and finding creative ways to spur local spending. I also believe we should evaluate a way to provide equitable relief to residents, such as a one-time water bill credit.
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 must address the maintenance on our core infrastructure: surface roads, water mains and sewer lines. As an established community, much of our infrastructure is aging and in need of replacement. To ensure we are responsibly allocating our money to projects, I support the consolidation of projects in an area to reduce "double-work" later.
I also believe we need to complete our outstanding pavement study to aid in the prioritization of projects and to develop long-term schedules instead of our current flat yearly allocation strategy. To help pay for these projects, we can leverage the increased allocation of motor fuel tax from the state and seek grant opportunities. A potential federal infrastructure bill could be beneficial to our community and we should prepare to have as many shovel ready projects available should funding become available.
Delaying noncritical building upgrades and expansions are warranted while we evaluate the long-term economic impact of the pandemic. Many of these can be suspended with no impact on service delivery for residents. I am cautious with this approach, however, to avoid falling in the deferred maintenance trap that can allow short-term immediate relief but create costly long-term issues later.
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the stance your board has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A: The usage of recreational cannabis is legal across the state of Illinois. My position has always been to allow a cannabis business the opportunity to apply for a permit and trust our zoning and code permit process to evaluate the impact and merit of the proposal. The village board ultimately has the ability to approve or reject any proposal based on the specific site plans and fit for the community. In 2019 when we held our public hearing to consider the matter the residents present expressed overwhelming support at the time. I am looking forward to the nonbinding referendum results and giving more residents the opportunity to voice their opinion.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I want to help grow and support our existing local businesses and provide a community that can support the next generation of innovators. Our small business owners have to wear many hats to be successful. I'm proposing the creation of an entrepreneurship mentorship program to connect our small businesses with training and mentors from a variety of industries to help compliment their skills. Building up our existing businesses can reduce our turnover in retail and commercial areas and build up greater loyalty to the village.
Roselle can become a magnet for small businesses owners when they see the supportive environment we are fostering. This type of programing can also tie in to support the student business incubator that has been started at Lake Park High School. I believe Roselle should prioritize our existing businesses and small business owners during these challenging times.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: Roselle is more than just another town. It's the place my family has called home for over 100 years. It's the place I grew up, went to school and had my first job. It's the place I met my wife and now where I'm raising my family. That's why I'm committed to making sure our local businesses survive the pandemic and we start working on building a stronger Roselle for generations to come. We need to have bold ideas to both honor our history and sow the seeds for future sustained prosperity. I have collaborated with our residents, business owners and other taxing bodies to make Roselle a better place today, but now it's time for us to work together to take ownership of Roselle's future.