Jodi McCarthy: 2021 candidate for Hawthorn Woods village council
City: Hawthorn Woods
Occupation: Civil Engineer at a local civil engineering consulting firm
Civic involvement: Village trustee, Hawthorn Woods Finance Committee member, involvement in the promotion of STEM careers in local schools
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 health and safety of Hawthorn Woods residents is a top priority. The village's newsletters, email blasts and website have incorporated messaging from state, county and federal officials to help slow the spread of COVID-19. These communications also serve to inform residents about available testing and vaccination opportunities. Village staff members have also taken an active role in helping residents with scheduling their vaccinations. I will continue to encourage these efforts.
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: Village staff has worked tirelessly to maintain a high level of service to the community while keeping village employees and residents safe. Village operations have continued through the pandemic by utilizing technology and implementing procedures to follow CDC guidelines. In fact, village services have expanded during the pandemic. In order to avoid a congregate work setting, staggering the schedules of village staff has resulted in their availability to serve the community with expanded hours during all seven days of the week. In addition to the normal operations, the village has continued to implement modified programming and events. I was particularly impressed with the re-imagining of the Hometown Holiday, where Santa was welcomed by cheering families in a COVID friendly event.
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 I hope that residents never have to endure this type of event again, the village has developed protocols and procedures that could be tailored to a future public health crisis. The village will continue to keep in place hand sanitizing stations, plastic barriers, and hybrid work policies on a continuing health awareness basis, including the flu season. Continued communication with the Lake County Health Department is also essential to effectively addressing any future health concerns.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: At the start of the pandemic, the department directors diligently reviewed their 2020 budgets line by line, successfully reducing and delaying expenditures. The 2021 budget process endured the same level of scrutiny, and the final priority-based budget reflects only critical expenditures to maintain municipal operations. Each department delayed capital expenditures, such as the postponement of replacement police vehicles. Village staff has been dedicated to leveraging all available grant and funding opportunities to help supplement the reduced income due to COVID-19, and successfully obtained funding that allowed the village to end 2020 financially on target.
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: Street repair and maintenance is a top priority, as many of the village's streets urgently need either resurfacing or reconstruction. A referendum to fund this program through a tax rate increase did not pass in March 2020, so the village is currently exploring alternative funding options. Unfortunately every year these improvements are put on the back burner, the deteriorating roadways become more expensive to repair.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: The police, Lake County Health Department, and CDC have been addressing any complaints that have been received.
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 has placed a temporary moratorium in order to continue researching the potential impacts and village consensus, but will be addressing that later this year. A retail facility could be an opportunity for additional revenue for the village if located and zoned properly.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: The village recently adopted a Sustainability Plan with the objective to deliver a more livable present and future for all. As part of a community survey, residents identified actions needed to address environmental concerns. The top results included the preservation of open space/natural areas, promotion of renewable energy, protecting drinking water quality, protecting and enhancing wildlife habitats, enhancing nature trails, and expanding walking and biking trails. The plan acts as a road map for the Village to advance current programs and guide new initiatives that will balance the needs of the future with those of residents today. I look forward to working with village staff, residents, and other local and regional partners to promote this plan and turn the goals and strategies into implementable projects, policies and actions. As one of the first actions after the plan adoption, the village is bringing forward the Green Business Award to recognize members of the business community who are already working toward these goals.