Lalena Zoe Magnetta: candidate for Grayslake village trustee
Four candidates are running for three 4-year seats.
Occupation: Senior Training Specialist, Siemens Smart Infrastructure
Civic involvement: VFW Post 2245 Member; Exchange Club of Grayslake; Grayslake Heritage Committee; Board Member for Keeping Families Covered; Woman Veteran Ambassador for Illinois Joining Forces (Lake County Region)
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 the Village Board in a pandemic is to provide accurate information to the public and to ensure that the functions of the Village continue in a safe and efficient manner. It is also important for residents to have a consistent source of accurate information during the pandemic, which the Village have consistently directed residents to guidance from the Lake County Health Department during this time. The Village has consistently complied with Gov. Pritzker's executive order as well as the guidance of the Lake County Health Department. All Village Board meetings have aligned with current guidance and the Police department, Village Hall staff and Public Works staff have consistently followed guidance and modified practices to ensure compliance. All of this has been done in a way to minimize impact to our residents. Even though not popular decisions, the Village canceled popular events, such as Summer Days and the Memorial Day Parade as well as the Aquatic Center and Museum. Additionally, we worked with local businesses and restaurants to assist them in their functioning, including direct cash payments to many businesses and restaurants to allow them to stay open.
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, there was no disruption in Village services. The Village has been in a debt free and fiscally responsible status since 2009, so no service disruptions to our residents (snowplow, police response, no Village employee cuts, no budget cuts) were a direct factor in serving our community during the time of the pandemic. On a case-by-case basis, the Village worked with residents who were unable to pay their water bills. Additionally, the Village worked with businesses who were having difficult economic times by giving the economic incentives and deferring business license fees; working with them on outdoor dining, and providing promotional opportunities advertising who was able to be open and when. These incentives helped the community as a whole to eliminate fear and disruption from our "new normal" lifestyle.
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: The Village has an emergency preparedness plan. Elements of that plan were implemented, e.g., changing police dispatching processes; changing the way public works performs their duties; canceling public events, such as Summer Days; ensuring residents have access to accurate information from the Lake County Health Department, etc.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: The Village of Grayslake has maintained an infrastructure with low operating expenses that directly help and assist the residents at very little cost to them even during a global pandemic. We will continue to utilize smaller staffing of our Village employees, privatize services and work toward intergovernmental agreements with surrounding municipalities to reduce any burden we can for our residents.
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: The Village is debt free and has a balanced budget, as such our Village infrastructure has been well maintained. We have a long-range plan for funding projects that will be needed in the future. With that in mind, assisting the state of Illinois in building the underpass at routes 120 and 83 is very important project to me. The preponderance of the funding for the approximately $40 million project will come from the state as these are state routes, the Village will pursue opportunities to help the state make this plan a reality. While, delaying infrastructure projects generally leads to more expensive projects in the future, the route 120/route 83 underpass could probably be delayed. However, I feel this is the most important project to our residents because of traffic build up at that high-vis intersection.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: The police department responds to any calls that indicate that a business is not following the Governor's guidelines, similarly the police will stop by noncompliant businesses that they observe while on patrol. The police department reminds the business of the order and works with them to bring the business into compliance. This is part of our community policing strategy. If needed, the police will report the matters to the Lake County Health Department.
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 chose not to allow recreational marijuana in any zone as this was a new use without comparable history within the state of Illinois. As zoning is long lasting and comes with certain rights to the property owner, the Village felt that studying those towns that adopted quickly was warranted. This would allow the Village to learn from their experiences. A moratorium was put in place with a request that Zoning and Planning review the matter and make recommendations.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: As a veteran myself, I would like to work with my fellow board members in establishing an economic incentive program for Veterans returning to the community who wish to start a business in Grayslake.