Georgeann Duberstein: 2021 candidate for Hainesville village board
Four candidates competing for three 4-year terms
Occupation: Physician Assistant, retired
Civic involvement: Founded Great Age Club for resident seniors; began villagewide garage sale; created the project for restoration of Cranberry Lake woodlands; served as election judge every election, except when on the ballot; researched and recommended the new LED streetlights that were installed, saving the village thousands of dollars; obtained $10,000 grant from Openlands and ComEd to create a community park (the Gathering Place) for people and pollinators; represented the village on the executive board for Lake County Consolidated Transportation Services Commission (LCCTSC); represented the village on the executive board for Bringing Everyone's Strengths Together (BEST) for the betterment of the Round Lake area; founded a tutoring program for Round Lake Area District 116 schools for students reading below grade level; served on the committee to successfully pass the referendum for the $29 million addition to Round Lake High School; participated in the creation of two five-year strategic plans for School District 116.
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: As chairman and founder of our Great Age Club for village seniors, I provided them, on a continuing basis, information concerning resources. For example, I have sent emails of various websites and phone numbers as I became aware of where the vaccine might be available to our members as well as to the staff. I held a virtual meeting for interested village seniors to help them navigate COVID vaccination websites to obtain shot appointments.
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: We have all tried to continue to be responsive to the needs of our residents. Our public works department has continued to service the community with snow plowing and all its regular services. Our website has a provision to request service. Although the village has been closed to the public, the elected officials have been accessible by email and the staff by email and by phone as always.
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: We certainly would put in place those procedures we utilized during the current crisis. They included closing the village hall to resident traffic while making services and information available through mail, email, newsletter, social media and phone. Staff would either work from home or rotate in the office to keep social distance while wearing masks. Board meetings were initially virtual, but when in person, each board member was socially distant at separate tables with masks, and visitors, if any, were limited. I received updates from Lake County Health Department on a regular basis and forwarded pertinent information to the mayor, staff and/or residents, as appropriate. Concerning businesses, the state and county guidelines were followed. In the future we would implement additional guidelines from higher authority and procedures that varying as situations dictate.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: Our residents expressed gratitude to the mayor and trustees for granting two months of $100 credits to all the water bills for occupied homes and businesses. Late-fees were waived. Businesses were exempt from business and liquor license fees for two years.
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: For the last three years, we developed a project to improve our stormwater flow and to prevent flooding (especially on residents' properties) by removing silt and vegetation. We plan to continue the project this year.
Fortunately, the village is in a solid financial position. However, we plan to only video half of our storm sewer system this year. Additional improvements to Cranberry Lake woodlands will have be addressed in the future.
We also use our portion of the Motor Fuel Tax to improve and maintain the village roads on an ongoing basis.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: As the vaccine is more readily available, restrictions are being lifted. We are not aware of any violations in Hainesville. However, if violations would occur, municipalities, such as ours, do not have the authority to enforce compliance. In that case, we would notify, as appropriate, the Lake County Health Department whose responsibility it is.
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: Hainesville was the first village to take a stand against having marijuana distribution sites. The vote was unanimous.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: Since being instrumental in the restoration of our Cranberry Lake woodlands, I have been active in creating and restoring our open lands. I would like to see the open lands along Route 120 and along Hainesville Road improved with native flowers and grasses to replace invasive species.