Jennifer C. Troutman: 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 Troutman'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: Marketing communications professional, currently freelance professional. Furloughed at the end of 2020 due to COVID.
Civic involvement: I'm currently involved with Telos, a pro-peace organization working toward peacemaking and racial justice.
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 feel it's a both/and situation. My responsibility is to listen to all viewpoints whether I agree with them or not, to explore state and federal recommendations and mandates, and ultimately to use all the information in hand to lead well for the safety and benefit of the people.
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: Given the nature of the unknowns of the pandemic, especially in the beginning, I do believe that our town has done an overall good job of mitigating disruptions. Specifically, I commend our local school district, D10, for finishing the last few months as best as they could back in Spring of 2020 as well as making a plan to accommodate all students for fall with both in person and remote options for study.
Truly the faculty and staff went above and beyond to make sure every student had the opportunity to learn in the way that best served them and their families during this pandemic and minimized possible exposure while doing so. D10 has really led the way for how to do in person learning well. Another example, our local food pantry, in collaboration with the community at large, has done a tremendous job in making sure those who are in need are provided for. Most recently, the village has been collecting vaccine providers information to make sure residents are aware of available options for getting vaccinated. That said, even in the good there are still things to learn in order to be best prepared for the future.
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: As a people, I believe we have to be better in admitting that we don't know what we don't know. There is so much that the experts are still learning about COVID-19 and I don't believe that learning is going to stop anytime soon. As I previously stated, I'm extremely proud of our school district and how they have found a way to gather and still mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Pooling learnings from across the globe is critical in safeguarding against future health crises. Start with the success stories and implement safety measures, and examine the not-so-successful stories to understand what to avoid.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: Spend less money. Period. More specifically, examine whatever can be postponed or re-imagined to reduce spending and therefore reduce the burden.
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: All infrastructure is important to maintain as it keeps our town running and moving forward. Any infrastructure issue that hinders our constituents from enjoying where they live or running their businesses should be explored. There is a current project in process to fix many of the streets in our community. Any project, whether already in process or proposed, needs to be thoroughly examined with improvement partners to ensure fiscal responsibility and/or be possibly re-imagined to accommodate budgets, especially in light of these uncertain economic times. Encouraging area business growth and development will minimize future additional tax burden on our residents. Making sure we are maximizing our grant potential and collaborating with our townships should also minimize burdens. Any nonessential spending should be stopped.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: I completely sympathize with area businesses that were hindered by the governor's order. There are ways to safely conduct business, go to work, attend school, etc., in the midst of this pandemic. As long as realistic public safety measures are implemented and executed, I see no reason to hinder businesses from doing business.
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: I am unaware of the current board's stance on permitting recreational marijuana sales. Since the state has legalized marijuana I wouldn't be opposed to hearing a proposal.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: To be candid, our community is already pretty great. I would like to see our communications to the community improve so that more of our constituents would be informed and empowered to get more involved in making our already great community, even better. I would also like to see term limits put in place for elected officials. I believe fresh vision propels us forward and it's difficult to get fresh vision from those who have been doing the same thing for 10, 15, 20+ years.