Robert W. Taylor: 2021 candidate for Lisle Village Board
Seven candidates are competing for three, 4-year seats on the Lisle Village Board in the April 6 election. They are incumbent Marie Hasse; and challengers Robert Taylor; Lisle First slate members William Trussell and Dan Grecco; and Be Lisle (Lisle Forward) slate members Thomas Duffy, David Richter and Mary Jo Mullen, Lisle Township supervisor whose term is expiring.
Civic involvement: Officer of Carlin Nalley Foundation, which offers Lisle grads scholarships across differing career paths inclusive of trades and theater. This year we will give out $28,000. In my 40 years as a citizen of Lisle, I have also volunteered at school, park district and village events/programs.
Party slate: Independent
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 a leader in education I have navigated the pandemic with safety as key factor for the families I work with and the teachers I represent. As a lecturing Golden Apple Fellow I've taught leadership to young and aspiring educators, emphasizing that everyone has a special strength or skill set. The leadership in your life needs to bring that skill set to the front. Those people who have this ability can align others to get big picture items completed. In doing so, leadership has to work with facts and set aside opinions from time to time. There is no doubt that tax revenue has suffered alongside the businesses of our town. And, an example of my message would be my opinion on gaming machines. I'm personally not a fan; however, I believe they should be permitted in our town because they offer a stream of revenue.
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 the village is doing a good job during the pandemic. It was clear early on when there were many unanswered questions regarding the spread of COVID that services like policing had to adapt. I think the village board did a good job dissecting and eliminating some of emergency ordinance rules that are oppressive to our citizens.
Because the village is comprised of several different governmental bodies, the services the citizens are dependent on are not necessarily in control of the village. One example of this has been all the discussion about our local food pantry running low, especially over the holiday season. This is a township issue, not a village issue. I do believe all the CARES Act money offered to the township should have been spent to restock its food pantry.
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: As someone who works full time in a public institution, I am well aware of the safety protocol needed to stay open. I believe many of these measures should continue to safeguard our community workers and the citizens who interact with them, such as glass dividers. A level of preparedness needs to be maintained and any new technology such as Near Field Communication chips should be employed throughout the village to quickly give citizens access to information through a contact free experience. If we are prepared and all onboard to take measures as needed, our businesses should stay open in the future if a health crisis of the current COVID magnitude takes place.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: About 70% of the general fund expenditures are salaries and benefits, with over half of that being police service. Seeing the overall village employee total dropping by almost 10% over the past few years, I would propose that most citizens would not want to cut services any more than have been but rather pursue keeping our businesses afloat to safeguard our citizens' tax burden.
Sales tax revenue accounts for 25% of the village's general fund. Property taxes account for about 27%. The best way to cut property taxes is to drive sales taxes. In order to help these businesses I would entertain using the new business grant money for existing businesses based largely on the percent of time they were not operational during the pandemic. I would also loosen the restrictions that have turned new business away.
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 biggest infrastructure issue Lisle has to deal with is the watershed. There is a plan in place that needs to be executed without haste. I have met with my county board representative regarding my thoughts about the accelerated problem St. Joseph Creek Condominiums has had with flooding in the past few years. If elected I would direct staff to investigate this issue and seek restitution if possible.
I believe all planned infrastructure projects should be kept on schedule. Regular maintenance of our streets and sewers needs to stay on schedule to ward off any issues caused by neglect.
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 disagree with how the board voted on this topic. It's a lost opportunity for tax revenue. I would vote to permit these sales.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: There is no doubt, the biggest issue people from Lisle have mentioned to me while navigating the election process is the boarded-up Family Square property at Ogden and Main. It is unfortunate that our town does not have the demographics to attract a big name anchor store; because of this we need to think about the possibilities for this privately owned property. One of the first things the town should look into is establishing some guidelines through village code that prevent blighting our main business districts. I commend the current board for starting this with requiring painting boarded buildings with matching frontage colors. The next step is to not allow boarding up buildings at all throughout our business districts.
In watching the Marquette Buildings get built over what seemed to be an eternity; with the end result being high rent apartments and two businesses, I think the citizens of the village wish for a better outcome with more services at Ogden and Main. I would entertain an intergovernmental project on part of this property to encourage timely construction and an end result offering our citizens something such as an indoor playground and satellite library/reading area.