Jeffrey T. Aiani: 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 Aiani'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: Commercial Landscape Estimator at Premier Services, Lemont
Civic involvement: Member, Northern DuPage United Way, 1994-2004; Itasca Plan Commission 1988-1992; Itasca Lions 1986-present; Itasca Village Trustee 1993-present.
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: We have a responsibility as elected officials keep the public informed by providing updated and accurate information to the community regarding the pandemic. The village has continued to pass along information from both the state and federal entities as it was made available to us. But Itasca did more than just pass along information by taking action such as halting residential shut offs due to difficulty in making payments, creating and distributing "Itasca Bucks" to residents and launching a $150,000 grant program in direct assistance to local restaurants and breweries to help them weather the pandemic restrictions.
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. Itasca has stayed open and available throughout the entire pandemic. While some functions may have initially slowed down, we never shut down. The village made adjustments as were needed, while always adhering to and remaining compliant with the changing state and federal guidelines in place. In addition, and in collaboration with the Itasca Park District's lead, we assisted in securing and distributing 800 vaccines to local and nearby residents.
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: Our responsibility is the health, safety and welfare of our residents. As an elected official, we need to continue to keep appraised of the research, changes and developments in the fight against COVID-19 and remain diligent in our compliance with the guidelines in place to help fight the spread of it.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: The village board acknowledges the financial strain the pandemic has put on people. We continue to look at ways to assist where possible though means such as the issuance of "Itasca Bucks," halting water shut-offs, and suspending late fees and nonpayment fines to ease the burden on struggling families.
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: We continue to balance infrastructure projects, with next year's top priority identified to be the "Elm Street" project as the next major infrastructure project to be completed. Long range planning continues to be the conversion of streets from rural to urban "curb and gutter" as funding sources become available.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: I would hope for, and expect that businesses would comply with state and federal guidelines in place at any given time.
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: Currently I agree with and support the board's decision in place that does not have zoning that allows for this.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: The mayor, village board and the entire village staff continue to focus their efforts on keeping the village on track whether it be maintaining responsible financial stewardship, continuing economic growth, planning for long-range goals or the immediate responses to the pandemic. As part of the team in place I, along with all the others, contribute to that as the culture in place allows for ideas to be heard at anytime.