Laura S. Ekstrom: 2021 candidate for Barrington Hills village board
Six candidates for three seats
City: Barrington Hills
Occupation: Marketing consultant at Scoville Creative Group
Civic involvement: Barrington Hills Village Communication Committee 2008-2014
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: In confronting the pandemic, our role as a village is to provide support to our residents. We kept our Village Hall open and continued to provide civil, police and fire service without interruption throughout this crisis. I believe this was an effective strategy.
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, village services were never interrupted. By keeping the Village Hall open, utilizing CDC standards of safety, we were able to provide village, police and fire services to residents without interruption or loss of response time.
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 protocols that were established in our Village Hall, police and fire departments to manage this crisis have worked well and provide a model for future challenges that may arise.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: The village has already cut the property tax levy six years in a row. This must be a record in the state of Illinois. Barrington Hills government puts taxpayers first, and I will continue that commitment if I am elected.
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: As a residential village, our infrastructure needs are covered solely by property taxes, we have virtually no sales tax revenue. Our infrastructure consists of maintaining roads and bridges, as well as our Village Hall and the Barrington Countryside Fire Department next door. The village is fully funded and ahead of schedule on all maintenance. As a result, the road repair program has been able to add a new program to apply sealant material to roads paved over the last four years, increasing the life of the pavement and saving our village additional money over the long run. No infrastructure project needs to be put on the back burner as a result of the careful management of our infrastructure needs and resources over the last six years. My goal, if elected, is to continue and support this successful stewardship.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: That is not an issue in Barrington Hills because we are primarily a residential community.
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 voted not to allow recreational marijuana sales as we do not allow commercial businesses to operate in our residential community.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I am an advocate of increased transparency and communication between the village and our residents, encouraging input and feedback wherever possible. I believe that makes for a better and more responsive relationship between government and community. We are neighbors representing neighbors, and I'll encourage an open and productive dialogue. I might even recommend that we reinstate the ability of trustees to respond to public comment. That was eliminated under a prior administration to protect the Trustees from criticism, but I don't believe it ultimately serves the public interest.