Jennifer Nutley: 2021 candidate for Des Plaines City Council Ward 5
Two candidates for one seat
City: Des Plaines
Age: Not given
Office sought: Des Plaines City Council, Ward 5
Occupation: Internal bank audit/project management
Civic involvement: Forest area Turkey Trot, District 62, Scout Troop 6, Des Plaines food pantry
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: My view on the pandemic is -- I would be leader, a focal point to help with COVID information and how to get vaccines. Our statewide numbers for COVID are decreasing, which is positive which gives us hope, which we all need at this time. We must be doing something right! We have to look to the CDC for their suggested guidelines. Wear a mask, avoid large gatherings, keep a safe social distance wash hands.
These should be our priorities.
I would like to share as much as possible on where and how to get vaccinated, through social media, flyers, and emails.
I would also like to look into how the city can set up a phone number and flyer to get out to the elderly or lower income residents. These residents may not have internet or be internet savvy or have family that can help them set up their vaccine appointments, if they want to get vaccinated. Look into ways in assisting with rides for the elderly, and lower income people that have no way to get to a vaccine appointment.
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: No I do not feel like our City served it's community well. Des Plaines had and still has the largest numbers of COVID cases in the area. There should have been more push for a local testing site. I know one is now at the old Kmart. A grant could be set up to help local business. City Council could have had and still can have more productive talks on how to help local business, and residents by brainstorming, and taking over ideas.
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: Again we as a community have to look to the CDC for their suggested guidelines. Wear a mask, avoid large gatherings, keep a safe social distance wash hands. Promote information on where and how to get vaccinated. Get people there, get vaccinated if they chose to.
These should be our priorities.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: The City of Des Plaines did offer an early retirement option which was appreciated by some and which helped to get through these tough times. Be judicious with spending. These are unseen times, currently Des Plaines plans to operate at a $10MM dollar deficit for 2021. Budgets are planned a year in advance there is no way to foresee what will be thrown at our community this year. I feel like everyone is living on a day by day basis.
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: I feel like Des Plaines has had a vast amount of improvements with infrastructure over the past years. The widening and rising of River Road, the River and Rand Road intersections, the remaking of the Cumberland circle, all these are great needed improvements. One thing I would like to see is the revisit, of the S curve on Northwest Highway. I feel like this is a huge disconnect from one side of town to the other, it needs to be widen and some type of pedestrian path put in to connect downtown Des Plaines with the other side of town. It is unsafe as there are no sidewalks. The railroad bridge that goes over this road as well, is very outdated, as it was put up I believe in the 30s as a temporary bridge. The City and the railroad need to come together on this and get this accomplished for the residents of Des Plaines.
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: I agree with it. People will go to another community to spend money on recreational marijuana. Why not let Des Plaines profit on this? There is a huge amount of tax revenue to be made. There are enough area's in Des Plaines to say that are "off the beaten path" to locate one. Rosemont just opened one on a main Street, so it's close enough that everyone in Des Plaines would go there to spend their money. Residents go outside of their town to spend money. We have a big enough population why can't Des Plaines residents spend their money in their own community and not just for this but for shopping, entertainment, etc. Residents are sick of spending money outside of their community.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: Des Plaines has a great location! The Metra train in the Down Town Area is a huge asset. It makes it easy for people to get to our town. Why can't our downtown area be like other Down Town's in our Neighboring Cities?
Why do we have vacant store fronts in our Down Town area that have been vacant for years with owners having no intention to rent them rather take a tax write off on an empty property? What can the City do to help? Buy back these storefronts? Rent them out? Would like to see more Community events, 5K's through our town these are huge draws for other communities. Local vendor food and craft fairs, farmers markets, food truck events, small fests. Get the Chamber of Commerce more involved with the City and work together. Events that bring our community together!