Thomas Duffy: 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.
Occupation: Healthcare consulting, Healthcare Services Corporation
Civic involvement: Volunteer for West Suburban Community Pantry, Lisle Senior Center, DuPage Senior Citizens Council, PADS, Lisle Park District (Adopted a park); creator of Shop. Dine. Lisle, a social media site to support small businesses during COVID; and HOA board member
Party slate: Be Lisle
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: A leader's role should be to convey facts and policies that are coming from the different government authorities during the pandemic to assist in the education and preventive measures aimed at ending the pandemic. Leaders should also explore any and all means to support the community and connecting residents in need to available resources. Because a pandemic can cause untold concern and worry, leaders also should provide communication channels so constituent concerns and questions can be addressed quickly.
Even at a local level, leadership can quickly assist the community; leaders need to focus on effective action. Leaders need to pull every lever at their disposal to help the community. For example, I assisted some small businesses in a video marketing campaign to draw support to the businesses.
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 the town adequately served its constituents during the disruptions. Leadership (the mayor) seemed more focused on a projection of confidence and was extremely slow in applying immediate support to the business community or reinforcing public health messaging. Our town's leadership (the mayor) has continually downplayed the threat to the public, even giving a presentation on the small amount of deaths in Lisle, and insisting board meetings be in person. It should be noted that these deaths were Lisle residents, and our neighbors.
The effort to support the small business community was not supported by the newly formed Lisle Economic Development Partnership, which has been slow to develop, whereas neighboring towns have continued to plan and execute economic initiatives safely and in a timely manner. Leadership took several months to create an ineffective gift card program and lacked a coordinated small business support effort throughout this entire pandemic.
Actions did not align with public health messaging with the mayor partaking in official activities without a mask (photos posted to social media) but then the next day the village released the importance of wearing a mask. Village leadership still can be seen not wearing a mask during in-person meetings, in violation of the village's own requirement to wear a mask inside the village hall.
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: I would have the village create a specific public health plan that would streamline messaging and prioritize public health messaging in village communications. This would ensure no mixed messaging and removes political agendas from being promoted. Village communication channels and resources will be prioritized to assist in the public health crises, where specific guidelines should be followed to align with public health needs.
I also would ensure that the small business community has an immediate communication channel to the village, which Lisle Forward has proposed, in a small business forum. Its important for the government to have the correct communication channels to quickly address any public health crises.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: I do not believe the local government needs to make cuts to reduce the burden, but it does need to improve its processes and services to better serve the community. Improving our planning and zoning process, along with expediting the deployment of the Lisle Economic Development Partnership would bring much needed business development to Lisle. Lisle has suffered from stagnated and inconsistent economic growth over the past several years, which has hampered growth in commercial property values.
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 village recently completed a water system need assessment, where the report outlined specific improvements that are necessary over the next several years. I believe this is the most important infrastructure project because the maintenance of a modern water system is critical to the longevity for Lisle and a rate increase on Lisle residents. The report outlines a projected deficit where expenses for the project will outpace revenues, even with a 3% increase in sewer and water rates. The monies deficit could be bridged through the capital project fund, however this would directly impact other infrastructure projects. If elected, I would seek a master infrastructure plan that prioritizes the various infrastructure projects to determine feasibility and alignment to the budgeting process.
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 do not agree with the stance the village board has taken on recreational marijuana. I believe the sale of marijuana should be allowed within Lisle, especially considering our neighboring town of Naperville both allows it and has a location right on the border of Lisle (Naper and Ogden).
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I would like to see the Lisle's business grant money program retooled into a business mentor program. This new developed program would award a prospective business a larger sum of money from the program and then pair the new business with a business mentor. With proper programmatic measures, this would encourage quality development in Lisle and assist the new business in having a higher probability of success. Additionally, it would tap into the wonderful resources of our community and the various business knowledge it possesses.