James McDonald: 2021 candidate for Lake Villa village president
City: Lake Villa
Civic involvement: Chamber of Commerce, Historical Society, Celebration of Summer Board, Eagle Pride Member, Community Partners Board Member
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: My role during the course of the pandemic has been to follow the Governor's executive orders and any other regulation handed down from a federal, state of local public health agency. My role is to also provide interpretations to residents and businesses.
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, the Village of Lake Villa adjusted staffing schedules, workplace assignments and provided PPE equipment to employees to ensure that our essential employees remained healthy to provide all village services during the pandemic. A clear divider was also installed so that the public could continue to have access to the Village Hall.
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: The Village of Lake Villa has learned a lot about public health emergencies during this pandemic. We have learned that it is important to always have an adequate supply of personnel protective equipment (PPE) to keep your employees safe. The village will now maintain an adequate supply of this personnel protective equipment at all times.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: The village can and has continued its cost containment strategies that has in the past led to three consecutive years of freezes for the Village portion of property taxes.
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 village's most important infrastructure project is our road resurfacing program. This program is funded by the sale of motor fuel. The Village has established methods to obtain more funding by attracting additional sales tax producing businesses. The Village will be pledging these additional funds toward road resurfacing and not toward operational expense, so that roads get replaced more quickly.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: Yes, I have always taken a proactive approach with this by communicating with businesses on the regulations.
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: The Village Board established a one-year moratorium on recreational cannabis businesses. The Village is approaching the end of the one-year moratorium and will be evaluating whether to continue this or not. The Village has also prepared a resident survey on this topic to obtain additional input. This evaluation is not complete and I have not determined my stance on this, at this time.
Q: Describe your leadership style and explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions with your village board or city council.
A: My leadership style tends to be team building and consensus oriented. I have been effective in using this leadership style to move the Village forward on various economic development topics.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I'm the best candidate for Mayor of the Village of Lake Village because of my passion and time on the Village Board, the Village has already completed many important accomplishments and has a clear plan, in the future, to continue to move the Village forward in a positive direction. I have served as Mayor for Lake Villa for the past 4 years and previous to that I served on the Village Board as a Trustee for 24 years. Prior to that, I served on the Planning and Zoning Board for 4 years. During this time, I was an integral part of all developments in the Village, which lead to a carefully planned increase in size and population.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: Lake Villa could better itself by providing additional bike and pedestrian connections throughout the community.