Danielle Dash: 2021 candidate for Prospect Heights City Council, 4th Ward
Prospect Heights 4th Ward; Two Candidates -- One 2-year term
Hometown: Prospect Heights
Occupation: Land acquisitioner
Employer: D.R. Horton, Inc.
Civic involvement: City of Prospect Heights Alderman of Ward 4 (1/25/21 to present); City of Prospect Heights Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals, Commissioner (5/9/11 to 12/14/15), Chairman (12/14/15 to 1/25/21); Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Prospect Heights, Wedding Coordinator (2005 to 2019); Prospect Heights Youth Baseball and Softball Home (phybs.org), coach/manager/special projects
Q. What is the primary reason you're running for office? What is the most important issue?
A. I'm running for office to continue serving as the 4th Ward Alderman. I grew up in Prospect Heights and now I'm raising my family here. The combination of my 9 years of service on the Planning & Zoning Board, my degree in Civil Engineering, and 25 years of work experience in residential construction make me uniquely qualified to serve the citizens of Prospect Heights. The most important issue in Prospect Heights is the lack of stormwater management infrastructure which causes flooding in many parts of our City. I will continue to support capital projects that will improve drainage and decrease flooding in Prospect Heights.
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 4th Ward Alderman I will see that the City continues to focus on the safety of our residents by encouraging people to protect themselves and others by wearing masks, practice social distancing and avoiding crowds. I will also help residents and businesses find the resources they need during this difficult time; access to testing, vaccination programs, food pantries, economic stimulus, etc.
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 has done a great job serving its constituents and businesses during the pandemic. The Prospect Heights website and eNews sent weekly provides information on much needed resources and promotes local businesses that need our support during this challenging time. Virtual city council, board & commission meetings have also allowed residents to watch and participate in what's happening while staying safe at home.
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. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a crash course for municipalities, businesses and organizations on how to continue operating while protecting the public. I believe that the current safeguards/guidelines in place will continue to improve and new opportunities to proactively prevent and address future health crises will be developed as a result of our experience and understanding of the challenges presented by COVID-19.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. To date the City has reduced expenditures by canceling events, implementing a Police Department hiring freeze, and deferring capital projects. For relief to City customers, vehicle license and business license deadlines were extended. The City also suspended the collection of past due tickets. The revenue that the City receives from property taxes is allocated entirely to the bond fund used to repair City roads and police pensions, therefor meaningful relief would need to come from other taxing districts.
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 most important infrastructure projects in Prospect Heights are related to stormwater management. Grant funding, state and federal assistance programs, and local taxes collected by the City should be the primary sources for funding the projects. The pandemic has provided an opportunity for the City to access capital funding so that many of the projects originally planned could move forward.
Q. Do you agree or disagree with the stance your municipality has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A. I agree with the City of Prospect Heights permitting recreational marijuana sales. Our City relies heavily on local tax revenue to fund municipal services and operations. All aspects of the cannabis industry are highly regulated which promote safe retail operations. All five municipalities within a 5-mile radius (Arlington Hts., Des Plaines, Mt. Prospect, Buffalo Grove & Wheeling) allow recreational marijuana sales. Keeping sales local allows the tax dollars to stay in town.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. I'd like to explore the potential of pop-up businesses and restaurants to meet local needs, help startups, and call attention to the possibilities of our City. These temporary establishments could fill vacant retail properties in town. This may help building owners find permanent tenants and bring a new mix of businesses to our community.