Kevin Flanagan: 2021 candidate for Elmhurst 1st Ward Alderman
In the April 6, 2021, consolidated election, incumbent Jennifer Veremis and challengers Susan Smentek and Kevin Flanagan are vying for a two-year term as Elmhurst 1st Ward Alderman. The Daily Herald asked the candidates several questions about issues facing the city. Below are Flanagan's responses.
In-person early voting with paper ballots is available at DuPage County Fairgrounds Building 5, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. In-person early voting with touch-screen voting begins March 22 at locations throughout the county. Learn more at www.dupageco.org/earlyvoting.
Occupation: Vice President of Commercial Services at Boyer Rosene Moving & Storage
Civic involvement: Coached my son's Little League team for several years; volunteered as a Meals on Wheels delivery driver for DuPage Senior Citizens Council
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 think we need to be more vocal with those people and businesses that do not adhere to the basic guidelines that we are forced to continue to address. Face masks work, social distancing works, washing your hands frequently works. Do it!
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: As a whole, dealing with the monumental task at hand in an unprecedented time, I thought the city did a great job serving our community. There are some decisions I remain critical, but in general, taking into consideration everything that transpired, our leadership did a great 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: Doing whatever we can to trust the science and separate the politics from any formal messages and communication we provide.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: I think Elmhurst does a great job at managing costs and any significant cuts will likely result in deferment of services that may be at a greater expense in the future. I think during these times, all costs should be analyzed.
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: Flooding in Elmhurst has been a huge issue in the past and although great strides have been made to mitigate the flooding, we need to continue our efforts until rainfall in Elmhurst is uneventful throughout our community.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: People are doing what they have to do to survive financially and keep their business afloat. Several businesses are doing it right with protocols in place. I don't feel they should be penalized and our focus should be on those who do not have the protocols in place. If elected, I don't feel the City Council has the authority to address these businesses and it is unclear who does ...
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: Our council voted against allowing cannabis businesses to operate in our municipality, and I disagree with this decision. There are two neighboring municipalities, Addison and Villa Park, that have cannabis businesses operating. A third neighboring municipality, Northlake, had a March 2020 referendum pass with overwhelming support for cannabis business operations. We have continued to allow neighboring municipalities cash in on potential tax revenue that could benefit our community. Cannabis is a $1 billion operation in Illinois and it's here to stay.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: Video gaming. Like cannabis, our city has voted against video gaming. Video gaming is allowed in EVERY neighboring municipality! Two neighboring municipalities that I think we compare to similarly, Villa Park and Addison, have averaged over $300k in tax revenue for the past five years from video gaming. Imagine what this influx of business and revenue would do for the struggling establishments in Elmhurst. I don't know why we are so selective over the source of tax revenue in comparison to neighboring municipalities.