From water mains to diversity, Arlington Heights trustee candidates share their priorities
Though not as contentious as Arlington Heights-area school board races, there may be just as many signs on lawns and in downtown business windows for the six candidates running for four spots on the village board.
Among the first names voters will see on the ballot, the group of two incumbents and four newcomers haven't sparred over a controversy, but they've offered a range of priorities instead, from ramping up infrastructure projects to putting a renewed focus on diversity issues.
Trustee Jim Tinaglia, who has served on the board for eight years, said he's running for a third term to hold the line on taxes, while spending public funds smartly to maintain the best possible services for residents and businesses. He touted the board's second year without a property tax levy increase, even with the challenges of COVID-19.
"I want people to be able to afford to live here the best they can. I want seniors to be able to afford to stay here. I don't want to see them pushed out," said Tinaglia, who grew up in town and runs the Tinaglia Architects firm.
Trustee Rich Baldino, who won an unconventional write-in campaign in 2017, said the village needs to keep the focus on sewer and water main replacements. And as debt is retired, the village should redirect more funding to water main work, in lieu of less vital capital projects like brick paver replacements and streetscape improvements, he said.
"We've gotten the funding to the point where we're just -- pardon the pun -- treading water," said Baldino, who is an environmental scientist. "These are things that directly affect the health and welfare of our residents and businesses."
Baldino has also proposed set-asides for small, women- and minority-owned businesses and has pushed for a village diversity, equity and inclusion commission.
Longtime community volunteer Jim Bertucci, a financial planner and vice president of the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre board, is making his first run for village board after previous stints on the boards of the library, chamber, historical society, Rotary Club and Crime Stoppers. He said he would bring his background in finance, budgeting and intergovernmental relationships to the elected village position.
And running under the campaign theme of "Greater Heights," Bertucci said he wants to further enhance the Arlington Alfresco outdoor dining zone by inviting restaurants outside the downtown to be included, and perhaps adding trolley service to get there.
First-time candidate Nicolle Grasse, a hospice chaplain, said she would bring a health care and human service voice to the board, from dealing with the effects of COVID-19 to calls for a more-inclusive community.
Building off the village motto of "City of Good Neighbors," Grasse has proposed a Good Neighbor project with a series of events and designated days to foster a collective identity among residents, businesses, civic groups and schools. Key among that is her idea for public art murals that would be a destination for residents and visitors and a way to tap into local artists, she said.
Wendy Dunnington, a community volunteer and part-time Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 classroom assistant, said there's much the village board can do to address climate change on the local level. That includes instituting green building codes and providing incentives for developers that employ sustainable design practices, such as green roofs, use of recycled materials, and water-efficient plumbing fixtures, she said.
Will Beiersdorf, co-founder of the Palatine-based Salute Inc. veterans organization and executive director of the Veteran and Family Center at Rush University Medical Center, said village leaders should build upon the values of respect, collaboration, innovation, accountability and empowerment in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, economic concerns, infrastructure needs and other issues.
"I definitely hear what folks talk about when it comes to diversity and sustainability and all these other things," Beiersdorf said. "But I think what we need to do is build upon our current core values and I think find the things that unite us, and then from there we can build on finding solutions for all these different things and challenges that the village has."
Two current trustees, Bert Rosenberg and Greg Padovani, are not running for reelection. Rosenberg, considered the board's financial guru, has spent two decades on the elected panel. Padovani, who is also chairman of the Veterans Memorial Committee of Arlington Heights, was appointed by Mayor Tom Hayes to fill the vacancy of Tom Glasgow in January 2019.
Hayes, who is running unopposed for a third term, will appear first on the ballot. He's endorsed two fellow incumbents -- Tinaglia and Baldino -- as well as Bertucci and Beiersdorf.