Kevin Horcher: 2021 candidate for North Barrington village board
Seven candidates for three seats
City: North Barrington
Occupation: Physician at American Insurance Management
Civic involvement: 1) Past School Board President of St. Anne School 2) Past Board Member of St. Anne School 3) Past volunteer instructor of Barrington paramedics 4) Co-Founder of a St. Anne Men's group 5) Member of the Men's Choir section of the Barrington Children's Choir 6) Active member of St. Francis Parish 7) Supporter of numerous local charities and foundations 8) Little League and Pony League assistant baseball coach
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: Many people are uncertain of how to safely and confidently navigate their personal lives during this pandemic. They are concerned for their families and their own well-being in this stressful time. As Trustee of North Barrington I would model the behaviors advised by the CDC such as wearing masks, frequently washing hands, and keeping appropriate social distance. I have, and I will continue to gently encourage others to follow those health recommendations. As our knowledge of COVID grows, both our medical and social responses to it are expected to become more fine tuned and successful. This should increase individual safety and reduce some of the current social limitations. The open space of our beautiful village provides a wonderful health advantage during this pandemic.
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 leadership of North Barrington made significant changes to its operations while continuing to provide services during the pandemic. Social gatherings and public access were required to be limited. To help prevent virus spread some non vital meetings were canceled. Even so, I was impressed with how the village adjusted to these unprecedented times. Monthly Village Board meetings and key committee meetings, while by necessity moved on line, were well publicized, easy to join from home, and carried out safely. Communication and instructions from the village through newsletters, email, and the village website were excellent.
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: While an Emergency Medicine Dr. at Good Shepherd I led the Disaster Preparedness Committee. The hospital and its excellent staff regularly carry out practice drills that help find and correct flaws before actual events occur. Looking backward at a "practice emergency" always showed us ways to improve going forward. While knowing which type of people and supplies would be needed where and when can never be fully known in advance there are some common denominators that apply from the hospital situation to the Village of North Barrington and other municipalities. Two of these are 1) having a clear and organized structure in place such that residents know where to turn for direction and 2) having reliable communication. Between the Village President, Board Members, and various committee members there is already a well defined leadership structure in place. Given what we have seen in recent nationwide disasters such as hurricanes and power outages we know that communication via cellphones, internet, and radio can sometimes be cut off. A good fail safe would be to set up a volunteer network of individuals designated to go door to door in the case of an extreme emergency.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: The tax burden is a significant issue and not just during the pandemic. People that I speak with feel frustrated and sense that they have no control over endless tax increases driven especially high by the need to fund ever increasing State of Illinois public sector pension funds. As such, the village has a responsibility to the residents to spend taxpayer money carefully. I applaud the village for recent cost reductions. The latest was a simple change. Given the decreased foot traffic in the Village Hall during the pandemic the Board voted to reduce the frequency of Village Hall cleaning and approved a reduced contract. This is small example of looking for, and making, appropriate adjustments. Despite the high real estate taxes that we pay as residents of Lake County, only about 3.6% of it goes to North Barrington. I appreciate that the Village chose not to ask the residents to pay the consumer price index adjustment this year. It was a small savings for each of us. Like a household that is required to spend no more than what it takes in, our village expenditures should not exceed our village revenue.
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 mentioned above, setting up an organized team of neighborhood volunteers for communication can be a low cost but life saving intervention in times of emergency. Though rarely needed, each volunteer would be able to check on, perhaps, twenty homes near their own. If a power outage occurs or a tornado comes through, as happened in North Barrington in April 1967, the volunteers could unobtrusively check in with the homeowners and see if any help is wanted or needed. Such a simple homeowner network can respect privacy, be life saving, and community building. The cost would be minimal and would require coordination with neighborhood volunteers and communication with residents. We live in area with a large amount of wet lands. This is part of the beauty of North Barrington. As such there is also a need for good water drainage to protect our homes and roads. This is a long term problem that needs consistent attention and help from the county or state water management groups. While important, this process does not supersede the need for navigating the problems of the pandemic.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: To the credit of our residents and business owners I don't encounter businesses that are non compliant with masking and social distancing. In this village we have few businesses and they seem to place tremendous value on their customers as well as their safety. If there were a non compliant business I would encourage residents and the business owner to support each other within the guidelines. As residents, if we are able, we can support good and safe business practices in this difficult time by being more generous when we make purchases or leave tips.
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 of North Barrington, as stated in the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, has the authority to prohibit adult use cannabis businesses in the village. The Board voted to ban such businesses in November of 2019. I agree with that decision and would not want to change it.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: People living here generally enjoy and value the peaceful natural environment. It would be interesting to see if we can expand resident access to our natural resources. Options might include walking paths or a bike lane. Residents might enjoy expanded park access or a bird sanctuary. We could also encourage education seminars for interested residents. They could know more about healthy flora and fauna and look out for invasive nonnative species such as buckthorn. This could possibly be done in partnership with the Lake County Forest Preserve, local organizations, and teams of volunteers at little or no cost to tax payers.