Shweta Baid: 2021 candidate for Aurora city council, 10th Ward
Voters have a choice for Aurora alderman in Wards 4, 7 and 10 and for the at-large seat in the April 6 election. In the 4th Ward, incumbent William Donnell is facing John Bell. In the 7th Ward, incumbent Scheketa Hart-Burns is being challenged by Saul Fultz. In the 10th Ward, Shweta Baid and Arjun Nair are running to fill a seat being vacated. And Raymond Hull, Brooke Shanley and Ron Woerman are running for the open at-large seat. All are 4-year terms.
Occupation: Minority woman-owned Small Business Owner
Civic involvement: Community volunteer; Indian American Community Outreach Advisory Board member
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: The City of Aurora does not have its own City Health Department. It is handled by the counties. I would coordinate and ensure that all the information like announcements, banners, posters, mailers and other recommendations from the county's Health Department is disseminated in a timely manner to all constituents and businesses. This will benefit the residents to stay updated and stay informed.
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: The City of Aurora kept constituents informed with data provided by County Health Department. For example, these policies were beneficial to Aurorans:
1. Mask up Aurora
2. Assistance for Senior Citizens
3. Supporting Local Restaurant
4. Grants & Loans for Small Businesses
5. Details about Cases, COVID-19 Testing Centers and COVID-19 Vaccines (https://www.dupagehealth.org/590/Coronavirus-Disease-2019-COVID-19-Inform)
6. Food Pantries, Mask and Coat Drives
7. Warming Shelters (https://www.aurora-il.org/DocumentCenter/View/3761/City-of-Aurora-Warming-Centers?bidId=)
8. Many great organizations and groups teamed up with the city to provide their services to our friends in need.
But, we can do more. Many people are struggling under the COVID lockdown rules and regulations, and I would like to find solutions to these problems. For example, lockdown has stressed many people out and tested their mental health. I would like to offer more services to those who are struggling with their mental health. I would also like to address the fact that drug abuse has gone up in our county since the start of the pandemic. Assist youth and seniors to overcome the anxiety caused by no social-interaction.
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: This pandemic taught us a lot of things. As much as it brought us together, we learned how to endure, assist others in need and also how to do the needful for everyone around us. Along with that we also learned how to be prepared for such situations in future. I would create awareness, advertise prevention and communicate with the community to stay united to beat the health crisis. I also truly believe in learning from our mistakes, I would see where are shortfalls were and implement things to correct them for the future.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: The local government can put a freeze on hiring nonessential workers or delay non-urgent hiring for some time. Some of the non-urgent infrastructure projects can be postponed if they are not time sensitive/mandated. Also, look into where they could make cuts on the budget or allocate in much needed services to our neighbors.
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: The fixing of the roads need to be addressed as they are the means to commute and all the residents are directly impacted by them. There are planned budgets, to pay for the roads. I would work on helping find County, State, and Federal funding to help build safer efficient roads. Any enhancements and improvements that does not impact the constituent's day to day life can be pushed.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
As soon as it comes to my notice I would inform the Public Health Department, so they can take further action.
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: The State of Illinois legislators and Governor have approved the use of recreational marijuana. We have to adhere to their mandates. My stance on this issue would be based on my constituent's feedback, I would have voiced the appropriate decision. I would like to see more minority run businesses to reflect our cities diversity.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: Connecting the 10th Ward residents with better communication, by conducting regular community meetings, sending newsletters, creating awareness about availability of city services, hence making the community a very amiable and happy place to live. We are stronger when we work together. Create, Promote and Work on STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math) project for the betterment of the community. Have regular workshops to address Mental Health and Suicide prevention.