Dennis Kelly: 2021 candidate for Barrington Hills village president
City: Barrington Hills
Occupation: Insurance Broker/Risk Manager at FGMK Insurance Employer
Civic involvement: Barrington Hills Park District President; Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce
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. The pandemic presented the community with one of the most unique and complex challenges in my lifetime. From the outset, the health and safety of the residents of our community was my main priority. At beginning of the pandemic, the community was faced with a great deal of uncertainty and conflicting information. Leaders like myself had to ensure the welfare of our residents even if the decisions were unpopular.
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. The Village of Barrington Hills did follow federal and state COVID guidelines. Under my leadership as a commissioner of the Barrington Hills Park District, the park district board and I also guided the district to follow both the federal and state guidelines. We closed our facilities based on the guidelines and reopened with limited capacity when restrictions were modified.
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 pandemic has provided an education for us all. Our local governments did an excellent job dealing with the crisis, but the pandemic also exposed weakness in our current organizational resources and community preparedness. After identifying our current capabilities and developing new goals, I would work on strengthening and developing organizational initiatives to protect the health and safety of Barrington Hills residents. This would include partnering with the Barrington Area Council of Governments, our police and fire departments, state and federal agencies. Communication with our residents is one of the highest priorities.
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 continued upgrading of our roads is a priority within the village. I would also suggest the community to a comprehensive review of current capabilities of internet infrastructure and electricity grid. I would explore ways that we could find economic efficiencies that would lessen the burdens on our local tax payers.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. As a business and community leader, I am guided by the principle of common sense. We have had a difficult year as a community. We have lost cherished citizens and the economic toll has been heavy for us all. My first priority is to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers. We have to pay our bills, but we also need to make sure that we are fiscally minded when it comes to our taxpayers. The services that focus on the health and welfare of our citizens are key to the success of our community. Our police and fire departments provide essentially services that form the backbone of our pandemic response. Under my leadership, I would focus on creating efficiencies in our local government. My fiscal policies would be driven by the principal that we can always find ways to do things better (our taxes go to roads/bridges, police, upkeep of village hall, staff salaries, legal fees)
Q. Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A. I am a business minded leader and have supported the local business community in many ways. The Village of Barrington Hills is a predominantly R-1 (residential) zoning community with no commercial operations within our boundary.
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. I agree with the amendment to the zoning code prohibiting Cannabis Business Establishments from locating within the Village of Barrington Hills.
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 guiding leadership principal campaign is "Common Sense Government." I would manage the village government accordingly by listening to and considering the expertise and experience of the board trustees, village professional staff, village committees, police and fire leaders, and, most important, the residents.
Q. What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A. I am a long-standing member of our community. I raised my family in Barrington Hills and care deeply about health, safety and success of our citizens. I have a great deal experience as a business and political leader that will contribute to our continued success. As the Vice President of a large commercial insurance agency, I managed a team of professionals who oversaw a multimillion-dollar book of business. During the last eight years I have been a commissioner and the current President of the Barrington Hills Park District. The past five years as member of the Executive Committee, and Chairman of the Board (term 2019-2020) of Directors Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce. These experiences have led me to develop and refine leadership skills that will serve the members of our community.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. One good idea that no one is talking about yet is the expansion of fiber optic cable systems in the village to increase capacity and speed of the internet.