Mark Mueller: 2021 candidate for Hoffman Estates mayor
City: Hoffman Estates
Age: Candidate did not respond
Occupation: Retired Hoffman Estates Police Lieutenant
Civic involvement: Founded the Law Enforcement Athletics Program, which allows at-risk children to play football, cheerleading and other activities; served as president of the Chicagoland Pop Warner football organization, which serves 30 regional organizations; started the lacrosse program at Hoffman Estates High School; coached lacrosse for 14 years at Hoffman Estates, Barrington, Saint Viator and Schaumburg high schools
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. Our village businesses are being neglected by the current administration. This was especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Neighboring communities were helping their businesses by providing utility assistance, connecting business owners with helpful resources, and closing down streets and parking lots so businesses could safely operate outdoors. Meanwhile, McLeod's administration did nothing to assist our small businesses or residents, causing irreparable harm to our community.
As mayor, I will be a much more accessible leader for Hoffman Estates. I'll be available to residents and businesses around the clock and responsive on social media, emails and phone calls. It will take real leadership to move our community forward and I am ready to provide that leadership.
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. Our business community has been crying for some sort of relief or direction from the village and received none. During the peak of the pandemic, the village was more concerned with collecting liquor license fees from the bars/restaurants than helping them with solutions. The residents in Hoffman Estates received no help either, while other local communities gave breaks or flexibility in paying utility bills.
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. There should be a relief fund ready to assist unexpected situations. Here in Hoffman Estates, due to the reckless spending by the incumbents, our tax rate has more than doubled since McLeod became mayor and we are wasting a million dollars per year on the NOW Arena, plus we owe $108 million in debt to pay off the arena, which was supposed to be profitable for the village.
Moving forward we must solve the NOW Arena issues. This will allow our finances to be put back into order, so we are able to better protect lives and livelihoods with future public health crises.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. Our village must cut back on extra nonessential spending. As an example, the village spent nearly $1 million to move a dirt hill at an outdoor beer garden during the middle of the pandemic. This kind of waste must stop. We must find a solution to NOW Arena's financial issues so we can better take care of our residents.
The main thing you never cut is first responder personnel. The drain on our Fire Department and Police Department with calls for service for medical issues have to be considered.
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. There are areas in town that feel left out and have major concerns about infrastructure. The constant power outages in Hoffman Estates need to be addressed and a solution found whether it is burying power lines or something else. Flooding and drainage is another concern that has people worried. With proper planning, we can get ahead of these issues. The money spent on roadwork is needed, but also a large amount per year. Looking into the new types of asphalt that are used which lasts longer is a solution that should be addressed. With assistance to the business community and recruiting new companies into town, the sales tax income as well as fixing the NOW Arena issues could help Hoffman Estates.
Q. Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A. With everything opening up, I would continue to communicate with the business community and help them stay open while adhering to the rules.
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. If the village will benefit from the income this would raise, I am all for it. This is a legal substance now and other villages are having great success with these businesses. We must increase revenue into our village from commerce and lessen the tax burden on our residents.
Q. Describe your leadership style and explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions with your village board or city council.
A. I am a very hands-on and open leader. I have been in leadership roles my entire career and will continue to do so as Mayor of Hoffman Estates. One of the biggest complaints that I hear is that some people see the mayor as the decision-maker for everything. Our village has great department heads and a new village manager. My goal is to put the best people in these positions and ultimately lead a successful team.
Q. What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A. I am a homegrown Hoffman Estates kid. I went to St. Hubert's School and Conant High School and then worked in a leadership role for 28 years with the Hoffman Estates Police Department. I know this community and have had "boots on the ground" every day for 28 years. I know what the people are struggling with and have been asking for. This community needs change and a breath of fresh air to again grow. 21 years under the leadership of Bill McLeod has taken a toll on Hoffman Estates and I am ready to move Hoffman Estates forward.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. To get Hoffman Estates moving forward we'll need to have an active village government that is looking out for residents, both young and old. We should have expanded services to teens with mentorship programs, a dedicated senior center, and we must drive new development that has stagnated over the last two decades.