Eugene Wesley: 2021 candidate for Wood Dale 4th Ward Alderman
In the April 6 consolidated election, Eugene Wesley is running for a fifth term as alderman in Wood Dale's 4th ward against challenger Nadine C. Ames.
The Daily Herald asked each candidate about issues facing the city and how they would contribute to its progress.
In-person early voting with paper ballots is now available at the 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/.
City: Wood Dale
Occupation: Manager, Jewel Food Store
Civic involvement: Wood Dale firefighter for 24 years; Wood Dale Public Works Chairman, Finance Chairman, Public Health & Safety Chairman, O'Hare Sound Proofing Committee Member, Greener Tomorrow Sub Committee
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: Wood Dale, Bensenville, Fenton High School, and Jewel-Osco, for whom I work, combined forces to provide vaccination for residents over age 65 at Fenton High School. Over 2,500 of our most vulnerable residents got vaccinated. Always available to answer questions from residents.
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. We closed city hall to the public but continued to provide all services by appointment. This way we protected both the residents and city staff.
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: It's important we listen to the scientists and local health officials. All city employees should be fully vaccinated, wear face masks, do frequent hand-washing, and maintain social distancing, until this pandemic is over.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: Wood Dale waived business license fees for local business in 2020; also waived vehicle stickers fees for residents. In 2020, the fees were waived and for 2021 will be reduced by half to help our food and drink establishments with liquor license fees. We also temporarily amended our zoning to allow outside tents at all restaurants. The city also helped with the cost of the tents in 2020 and will help in 2021 up to $2,500. Further we provided $40 of "Wood Dale Bucks" to each resident for use at local restaurants or to be applied as credit toward a resident's water bill. As of right, now no business has failed in Wood Dale due to the pandemic.
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: Eliminate flooding paid for by low-interest loan from the state. I would put road projects on back burner at this time.
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the stance your 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 City of Wood Dale banning recreational marijuana sales in Wood Dale. Both Elk Grove and Addison already allow it. There is no need for such sales in Wood Dale.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: As the former chairman of Wood Dale Prairie Fest for years, I would like to reverse the decision to cancel this important community event that everyone enjoys. It's usually scheduled in August and by then we should hopefully have an all-clear to get back to some form of normalcy.