Richard J. Artz: 2021 candidate for St. Charles 5th Ward Alderman
In the April 6 consolidated election, newcomers Richard J. Artz and Kimberly Malay, and Kane County Board member Steve Weber are vying for a four-year term as St. Charles 5th Ward Alderman.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates several questions about issues facing the city.
Below are Artz's responses.
In-person early voting begins March 10 only at the Kane County Clerk's Office, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Bldg. B, in Geneva and the Aurora satellite office, 5 E. Downer Place, Suite F. In-person early voting at locations throughout the county begins March 22. Learn more at www.kanecountyclerk.org/Elections.
Town: St. Charles
Occupation: Information Systems Professional 1, Kane County Circuit Clerk
Civic involvement: Kane County Young Republican Chairman; St. Charles Township Republican Vice Chairman/Precinct Committeeperson; Worked at the St. Charles Park District and Communities in Schools
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. I am willing to provide any assistance when deemed appropriate and necessary by our Kane County Health Department. I think they have done a good job of providing information to residents via news releases and social media along with trying to get vaccines to as many people as they can. I applaud the overall success in developing several vaccines by Operation Warp Speed so our health care workers, those at risk from COVID-19, and essential workers have the ability to get one.
I disagree with Gov. Pritzker's handling of COVID-19 especially when it comes to his ruling via Executive Orders without the input from the General Assembly along with distribution of the vaccines which has been ranked 37/50.
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 St. Charles did a good job overall of handling essential services during lockdown. The mayor and the city council still had council meetings via Zoom. The St. Charles police and fire departments were still able to do their jobs and coordinate with other county agencies. The Circuit Clerk's Office was still able to function its duties albeit in very different ways. The further implementation of technology would have happened in the long run anyway, but cut the implementation process by 5-10 years. The state of play is "adapt and overcome" and I believe the city did a good job.
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 was in favor of certain streets in the downtown area being closed to accommodate outdoor dining. What I would not do is to increase regulations on businesses and restaurants especially for a once-in-century pandemic. Not one public health crisis is the same, the remedies would be different to fight COVID-19 versus HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and the likes. To enact a policy regarding public health, it cannot be a one-size-fits-all and must be analyzed with studies and statistical analysis.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. As much I like a leaner government, the City of St. Charles has a balanced budget and are good stalwarts for the most part for taxpayers. I would not make any cuts to essential services. Since our city received CARES Act money and, in the event, our city were to have a surplus as a result of the CARES Act allocation, I would advocate that the city reimburse taxpayers of any surplus money.
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. Many citizens have brought up that their water quality has negatively changed in the past year. It is not just instances where fire hydrants are being flushed, it has been during the summer. Certain parts of town may need to have their pipes replaced. I would not raise taxes to pay for this infrastructure project, it can be allocated for with correct planning and budgeting. The idea floating around in St. Charles to have city hall converted into a storefront/restaurant is ill-advised and a waste of taxpayer's money.
Q. Do you agree or disagree with the stance your 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 the city council's decision to approve recreational marijuana sales within the city proper. I disagree with those in the community that want to expand it to unincorporated areas of Kane County. I am in favor of having more businesses that sell recreational marijuana that meet the zoning standards set in place by the Illinois Compiled Statutes and local ordinances of the city.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. I would advocate for the creation of a sales tax holiday for the City of St. Charles. Businesses have struggled in the ability to sell goods and services because of the pandemic. This would benefit consumers who need certain goods and services to keep afloat as federal stimulus alone may not help those that are struggling.