Dustin Sneath: 2021 candidate for Itasca village board
Seven candidates are squaring off for three 4-year seats on Itasca Village Board in the April 6 election. They are incumbents Jeffrey T. Aiani and Frank J. Madaras, and challengers Joshua Beauchamp, Patrick A. Powers, Dustin Sneath, Eric J. Swets, and Jennifer C. Troutman.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates several questions about issues facing the village.
Below are Sneath's responses.
In-person early voting 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: Superintendent of Information Technology at Elk Grove Park District
Civic involvement: 8 years on athletic boards in Elk Grove Village, worked in state Senator's office, over a decade working in local government
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 role in the pandemic as local government officials is to ensure our small businesses are receiving the support they need, and to advocate for our residents and businesses when relief programs are proposed at the county, state, and federal levels to ensure they receive a fair share of the programs they support with their tax dollars.
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 have to commend the current board on their overall response. The Itasca Bucks program appears to have been a success, and is being copied by our neighboring towns. I would have liked to see some pushback on the governor's restaurant mandates a little sooner.
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: At the local level, our options there are limited simply because we don't have our own public health department or health staff. Maintaining an emergency fund specifically for these types of situations (separate from natural disasters) would be ideal.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: As a local government employee (in a different municipality) I've seen these cuts myself. Staff furloughs are always a tough subject, and generally should be the last resort. Instead, things like postponing major software and equipment upgrades, asking staff to freeze discretionary spending, and using technology to make scheduling and problem response more efficient should be tried first. Merging or eliminating positions through attrition should be on the table as well.
Q: What do you see as the most important infrastructure project you must address? Why and how should it be paid for? What infrastructure project can be put on the back burner?
A: Flooding is probably the single biggest issue among voters I've talked to. Despite the Village's efforts for decades, certain parts of town still see significant flooding and property loss every year, even after relatively benign storms. Itasca's water has to be held back before it reaches the Wood Dale Flood Control Reservoir, which is tightly controlled by the county. It's my opinion that if we are retaining water in order to keep upstream Salt Creek towns dry, we should be more aggressively negotiating with those towns and the county to obtain funds for our residents to alleviate their issues. Even backyard flooding is not simply "nuisance flooding" -- people's garages, sheds, and other property is being damaged and we have to do something about it.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: No. I don't believe the government should be deciding which businesses are "Essential" and I don't believe it's our role to enforce state mandates.
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the stance your board has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A: As a non-Home Rule community, Itasca's options are limited in this space. As a matter of principle, I don't believe in gatekeeping legitimate businesses as long as they operate professionally and respect their surroundings.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I'd like to see more collaboration between the village, the park district, the school district, and the library. Unlike most of our surrounding towns, the overlap in constituency is much tighter in these taxing bodies. Often it feels as though special events are duplicated across them. I think if there was more pooling of resources, events could be bigger while actually saving the taxpayers a little money in the process.