Gerald "Jay" Murphy: 2021 candidate for North Barrington village board
Seven candidates for three seats
City: North Barrington
Occupation: Program Manager/Contracts Director at U.S. Department of Transportation
Civic involvement: Champion to my three young children Barrington Chinese Immersion Council, Board Secretary Parishioner, St. Annes (attending parking-lot mass at St Francis de Sales during COVID)
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 role of a Trustee in confronting the pandemic is to assist the residents in accessing communication, information, and resources provided by the county, state and federal government. Trustees are also a voice and advocate on behalf of local 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: The Village of North Barrington could have organized a COVID committee to ensure county, state, and federal communications are available to Village residents. I would support establishing such a committee to facilitate communications.
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: Despite the worst pandemic in modern history, the Village of North Barrington failed to establish a COVID committee. The baseline of a COVID committee would serve as the foundation for a rapid response for communications of future community illness or natural disasters (storms, tornadoes, down power lines, flooding, accidents, ETC.).
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: Cuts in spending within the Village of North Barrington raise issues beyond COVID. We need a balanced budget achieved through a comprehensive competitive bid process. When a Village secures services for the residents, costs should be controlled by seeking multiple competitive bids, not awarding a sole source contract without competition. When the Village Board grants sole source contracts without competition in bids (i.e., Village Attorney), costs skyrocket. Recently, the Village Board signed a $400,000 police contract that was not competitively sourced. Instead, the Village approached one source, and signed a contract that included rates for three 8.5-hour shifts per day. So we are unnecessarily paying over 500 extra labor hours per year, a practice out of line with other similar communities. I have been a government-contracts and procurement expert my entire 25-year career, so I know how to do this right. And goodness, let's balance the budget before issuing debt instruments like bonds. Balance before bonds.
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 past year, the Village Board has excluded most road repairs and costs from the budget. That gives the appearance of a reasonable budget during an election year. But next year, road repair costs may exceed $400,000 based on historical averages, putting us in a deficit position. Their current approach is short sighted, and may be a reason why some Village Board candidates describe "leverage" in their campaign materials. But leverage like bonds and debt instruments can saddle us with debt for decades. We need transparency in the budget, and must include the costs of road repairs and maintenance. We need a strong comprehensive competitive bid process to bring costs down, not raise taxes.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: North Barrington is residential, with a few businesses in the community. The businesses are complying with COVID standards. I would encourage the businesses to bring their COVID-related concerns before the Board.
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 think the Village Board has a duty to seek community input on the sale of marijuana. There needs to be a conversation. That conversation must include the evaluation of support by the residents, and realistic assessment of the value to the community.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: One good idea: the Board needs to listen to community requests and act. During this campaign, the community has expressed concerns with school bus stop safety, and pedestrian walk/run paths. The community asked the Board for changes in the past, but these issues are never placed on the Board agenda. We CLEARLY need to prioritize our children's safety in this community, and immediately facilitate changes in bus stop safety, including safer locations, code enforcement of speed zones, and let's get some child safe zone/bus stop signs out there.