Dan Gunsteen: 2021 candidate for Bartlett Village Trustee
Five candidates for three 4-year terms
Age on Election Day: 41
Occupation: Entrepreneur; a chain of carwashes and an electrical contracting company
Employer: Extreme Clean Carwash and Nucore Electric, Inc.
Civic involvement: Currently serve on the Plan Commission; Former commissioner Economic Development Commission; Board Member Bartlett Veterans Memorial; Bartlett Little League Board Member; Bartlett Little League Coach; Bartlett Raiders Coach; GunsteenForBartlettTrustee.com.
Q. What is the primary reason you're running for office? What is the most important issue?
A. I am a lifelong resident of Bartlett. Bartlett has always been home to me. I am committed to keeping Bartlett a great place to live and raise a family. To do this, we need to keep Bartlett a safe and affordable place to live with all the amenities and services needed. I'm running for office to offer a voice to residents that are not usually heard. The most important issue is our property taxes and water bills. Both have seen a significant increase over the last several years. We need to evaluate the costs and expenses by county.
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. Our local elected officials need to provide leadership and guidance through these hard times. As a business owner, I took the extreme steps and unpopular path as I voluntarily closed my business for a period of time. We took that time to enhance safety protocols and train staff to ensure we could operate and come to work in a safe environment. Based on doing this, we protected our employees, their families, and our customers. COVID is here and will be around for the foreseeable future. As a village, we need to balance the need for businesses to survive while making sure they are taking the necessary precautions to protect our residents.
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. Yes, I believe that it did. Village Hall continued to operate throughout the pandemic. It was closed to the public, but operations were still maintained. This allowed businesses and residents to continue to conduct business with the village. They waived any late fees and did not perform any water disconnects for late payments. As many people were already struggling with job loss, these seeming small things could have had a major impact on families that were already struggling. The Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals continued to have meetings remotely, allowing developers and residents to continue their process without delay. What I saw as a resident, the village did well in supporting its residents and the businesses in town during the pandemic.
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. Many business owners had to adapt in a short period of time in order to survive. For example, the village of Bartlett took measures to host meetings remotely and should always offer this option. Enhancing the online bill pay system and online permit application process would make doing business with Bartlett easier, even after the COVID crisis is behind us.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. Local government is essential. The need for police and public works did not decrease because of the pandemic. What has changed throughout this year is the need for extra services, such as over time, and extensive traffic control because large events had been canceled. In addition to that, all contracts for services or utilities within our town should revisited and evaluated for potential cost savings. These savings should impact our taxpayers in a positive way. No new taxes should be added.
Q. What do you see as the most important infrastructure project you must address?
A. Why and how should it be paid for? Conversely, during these uncertain economic times, what infrastructure project can be put on the back burner? The wait times at train crossings. Whether you have traveled down Stearns or W. Bartlett Road going to work, or running to a baseball game, we have all been impacted by the long wait times of the freight trains. It is time to take action and get a bridge or underpass put in so that the residents west of Route 59 can feel connected to the rest of Bartlett. There are numerous Federal and State grants that are available to offset the cost burden. In addition, by doing that, this will make the West Bartlett Road corridor more attractive to retail businesses and future residential development. These improvements will increase the tax base and lower the tax burdens to all residents. Any project that does not jeopardize the safety of residents can be put on the back burner. Painting water towers is one example.
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 village's current stance on the sale of recreational marijuana. Currently, one dispensary would be allowed in the industrial area. This keeps it away from schools and parks, but still allows Bartlett the opportunity to capitalize on the additional revenue it would provide.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. I would love to see a bike and walking bridge over Route 59. This may have been talked about before, but finding a way to fund it has always been the obstacle. The residents west of Route 59 often feel disconnected from town. By doing this and completing the path system will help tie the community together. This will increase safety. This would also encourage people from outside of Bartlett to travel though our town, and hopefully visit some of our wonderful businesses.