Pietro "Pete" Pellegrino: 2021 candidate for Roselle mayor
With first-term Mayor Andy Maglio not seeking reelection, newcomer Pete Pellegrino and village trustees Wayne D. Domke and David Pileski 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 Pellegrino'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/.
Age: Not given
Occupation: Chief financial officer of a large privately owned parish services and communications company
Civic involvement: Current Bloomingdale Township Republican Committeeman (2019-present); current volunteer and supporter of several local charities including Ronald McDonald House, Big Shoulders, Clearbrook, Catholic Charites and Flags for Roselle; former president, Hampton in Park Homeowners Association; former director, Cross Creek Homeowners Association; managed Roselle Rockers Travel softball team; and managed various Roselle in-house baseball teams
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: In my role as mayor, I will confront the pandemic as a leader. I view my role as the bridge and voice piece between Roselle and state and county authorities.
While guidance and safety measures will always be at the forefront of the discussion, we need to lead locally.
State and federal authorities can help especially from an emergency funding perspective; however, it is important we don't lose our local freedoms and that we protect our small businesses. I will work with community leaders and staff to create a Restart Roselle Plan that will focus on the needs of both businesses and residents. The plan will be multifaceted and will start with the following action steps with ongoing feedback from the community and local businesses.
Aid local businesses especially restaurants, with the transition from limited capacity full capacity. Solicit funding from county, state, and federal governments to help small businesses defray COVID-19 expenses.
Close some streets to car traffic allowing more space for outside activities and business while maintaining social distancing.
Establish support networks for our residents of all ages who are experiencing financial, mental, emotional, or physical distress related to the pandemic and its effects.
Work with local health care providers and pharmacies to make sure the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed as soon as possible. Make sure our seniors have access to and understand how to receive the vaccine.
Create an aggressive plan using current and new tax incentives to attract new business to Roselle to grow our tax base and reduce the burden on the homeowner.
Launch a "Unsung Heroes" program where residents can nominate individuals for special recognition for their acts and contributions during this COVID-19 pandemic.
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 believe all essential Roselle services were adequately provided during the pandemic. While some residents may have experienced some inconveniences or delays; on whole services were adequate.
However, I do believe more focus should have been placed on COVID-19's impact on its residents and businesses.
In my opinion, more support networks, programs, grants, and resources should have been dedicated to help. Our community stepped up and found solutions where possible. Local gyms and restaurants created ways to continue to operate while complying to safety regulations and guidance. It would have been great to see local leadership take more of that workload and stress off their backs. I plan to address this more in my Restart Roselle Plan.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not just health crisis but also a social and economic crisis. Its impact will continue to be felt for some time, but Roselle will get through it -- together.
It is important that we continue to adapt and apply new thinking during this time and listen to the needs of our residents and businesses and respond accordingly.
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: A public health crisis like COVID-19 has taught us that our response is what matters. Leaders must respond with full transparency, clear communication, and complete business and governmental cooperation. Our goal is not just a return to normal. My goal is a better, more resilient, more sustainable, more prepared, better equipped, and fairer version of our normal. Investments should be made to protect against future threats.
I would initiate a complete review of all aspects of our current emergency planning. I will work in collaboration with intergovernmental bodies as well as the community to establish revised public health plans that build upon the lessons learned from this pandemic and how we can better deal with them in the future. I will implement communication tools for identification and proactive response. I will make sure the reserves and equipment needed to react quickly are in place. I will look to local, state, and national examples of best practices used prior and during the pandemic and model local plans accordingly as applicable. I would also establish direct lines of communication with these different layers of government so that we can cut through red tape and get the aid we need in a timely fashion
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: As a seasoned chief financial officer and certified public accountant, I commit to using my experience and skills to conduct a complete review of Roselle's 232-page budget. I know that targeted cuts can be made without effecting our exceptional services. I will dedicate the time and effort required to effectively find these areas. I will evaluate all facets of government to identify areas where savings can be attained. I will bring together representatives of the independent taxing districts, not only within Roselle but also from neighboring communities to see how we can work together to help each achieve greater spending efficiencies. I will insist on an annual balanced budget and a reduced spending plan so not burden taxpayers with additional taxes or incur high levels of debt.
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: In reviewing Roselle's 5-year capital improvements plan, approximately $6,500,000 of capital related infrastructure improvements are recommended for fiscal year 2021. Prioritization will focus on public safety and health. Before making any specific recommendations, we need to get a better understanding of the post COVID-19 environment and its impact of village revenues.
I will meet with each of the project leads to determine what are the most pressing concerns. It would be most beneficial for all stakeholders to have these conversations first before determining any new additions or pausing any pending projects. If we determine projects can be deferred, I would pass along any monies saved to the residents in the form of tax cuts and/or grants to our small businesses.
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 sale of recreational marijuana is legal in Illinois. Proprietors have the right to pursue the establishment of such businesses with our state, but each municipality can choose whether to allow them or not. This past year, recreational marijuana sales were close to 1 billion dollars in Illinois.
While I see the clear potential of additional revenues of such a facility in Roselle, I believe this issue ultimately needs to be decided by our residents.
I encourage all residents of Roselle to do their homework on this issue and come out and vote. I promote, welcome, and support additional dialogue so that a well-informed decision can be made by our residents. Ultimately with an important decision like this, I would expect the trustees to follow the will of its residents.
Personally, I am not convinced this is the right time for Roselle to adopt such a measure but more importantly I am willing to listen to our residents. I want to hear opinions from both sides of the issue and collaborate with our residents. I trust Roselle and will take its lead on this.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I believe a better community is created through the involvement and empowerment of its residents. The process of local government needs to be more open, transparent, and interactive. My role will be to promote the priorities of the residents first and foremost. The more individual access to what local government is doing the better.
I will use a variety of technology platforms to promote more communication to and from residents. I will also create resident committees to gather input on important issues that will be directly presented to elected officials. I would lead the development of robust Village of Roselle mobile app putting the power of communication in the hands of its residents at a push of a button.
Empowerment is what promotes the bettering of our community for all ages. This includes our youth. I believe it is important we establish the support network to assist in the post pandemic transition for our youth. We are very fortunate to have such great schools and teachers within our community that I plan on working with to facilitate this transition for our future leaders.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I am running for mayor of Roselle because I have called this amazing community home for over 20 years. I want to see Roselle continue to grow and further facilitate its presence as the kind, friendly, generous town I know and love.
My 25-plus years of business leadership and executive experience has given me the vision and communication skills necessary to bring all stakeholders together to collaboratively create and implement the strategic plans our community needs. I will bring these same business and financial leadership traits to the people of Roselle to deliver even more positive experiences and success to our community.
I will listen to our residents and be your voice in developing sound solutions to any challenges. Within the first 100 days, I will meet with all our governmental departments, leaders of adjacent communities, local business leaders, residents, and representatives of other taxing districts to address common concerns and begin working together for the good of all our residents.
I will provide the leadership needed to successfully emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
I will lead our great town by attracting more businesses, increasing community involvement, supporting our current business owners, and maintaining our excellent public safety.
These are the keys to future growth and stability in Roselle. It would be my honor and privilege to lead our community on these goals as mayor of Roselle.