Steve Weber: 2021 candidate for St. Charles 5th Ward Alderman
In the April 6 consolidated election, Kane County Board member Steve Weber and newcomers Richard J. Artz and Kimberly Malay 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 Weber'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: VP of Sales, Highland Trading Group
Civic involvement: Coaching kids sports; volunteering at food banks; organizing food bank donations; board member of private charities; Kane County Board Member District 13; Kane County Forest Preserve Board Member since 2018; Army veteran
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 currently represent 22,500 constituents on the county board so I know every decision I make not only affects them but also all 532,000 residents of Kane County. I understand that I am representing my constituents not me. Since this position is a city council position, I will make my decisions based on what is good for my constituents first and then the city as well as business owners. Politics is not a popularity contest; it's about doing what is right.
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 think overall St. Charles did make adjustments to try and keep its residents safe while also trying to support the local businesses. I did feel that there was a divide between business trying to operate and survive and the city trying to enforce certain mandates. I think we need to respect mandates but also respect and have open dialogue with our vested partners in the community. This was a great learning experience for everyone. All city services still functioned and due to our towns resilience we will come out of this stronger than before.
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 think we need to continue to have less in person options for residents who have underlying health conditions. There will be a fear for a long time and in order to achieve comfort and trust modern technology will need to be utilized more.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. I think being respectful of all residents as well as the business in town who employ local residents as well as pay taxes there needs to be open dialogue to get through this without losing any business or residents. We will need to look at all of our permit and licensing fees to see how we can help alleviate placing added pressure on the current fragile economic climate. We need to make sure we are not just operating as business as usual.
If a resident or business needs help with a utility payment or needs a discount of city services we need to be willing to offer that. We all worked together to grow St. Charles. Some businesses and residents have prospered more due to the pandemic and some have been affected more in multiple ways. Mentally, physically and financially.
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 most important yet least visual is protecting our water supply and our wells. We have funds available for those projects in our budget and must be a priority as it will impact all residents as well as future development.
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 council on permitting recreational sales. We have more than enough data to show that crime does not increase and the brand integrity of the city has not changed. This is a great case in point that shows progress can happen while eliminating stereotypical thoughts without first having an open mind that progress can be achieved.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. We need to embrace the fact that we are not a sleepy antiquing town anymore. We have shifted over to a more entertainment-based town. The key will be making sure that it can also be a family friendly destination so it is not just all night life. Any new development should have this in mind. I think private as well as public collaboration can achieve this so all the burden is not on the taxpayers.