Jessica Bridges: 2023 candidate for St. Charles City Council Ward 1, 4-year
Town: St. Charles
Age on Election Day: 35
Occupation: Support engineer
Previous offices held: Precinct Committee Person
Q: What is the most serious issue your community will face in the coming years and how should the city council respond to it?
A: We are seeing companies and families start to conserve their spending. St. Charles needs to do the same. This is not the time to increase taxes or utility charges. Redevelopment of the old police station along the river is another issue of concern to my community.
This redevelopment of public property should be community driven, and public participation should always be a first step in the city decision reaching process. Community input and ideas should be sought through open forums before reaching out to developers.
Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?
A: Historically, St. Charles finances have been well managed with minimal increases over years. However, the city is currently discussing increases in utilities and property taxes. These increases will be extremely difficult for the families in St Charles.
Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?
A: Spending in St. Charles over the next 4 years should be essentials only to avoid putting any more financial strain on the residents. Major redevelopments, such as redevelopment of Route 64 on the east side of St. Charles, should be largely paid for by the private redevelopers with incentives from the city. There is ongoing discussion of increasing taxes to redo the roads. The city should ensure we have done all we can to extend the life of our roads and assure the cost of redoing the roads is not more expensive than the cost of further repair and maintenance.
Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?
A: St. Charles spending in general needs to be curtailed. For the past several years, families have been increasingly struggling with everything from unemployment to skyrocketing costs of necessities. The city should carefully reevaluate its entire budget to reduce or eliminate non-essential spending.
People can't afford an increase in taxes or utility payments right now.
Q: What do you see as the most important infrastructure project the community must address? Why and how should it be paid for? Conversely, during these uncertain economic times, what project(s) can be put on the back burner?
A: The most important infrastructure project the community must address is redevelopment of Route 64 on the east side of St. Charles. The former Pheasant Run site is not only an eyesore, but also dangerous.
The costs of redevelopment must be largely recovered when the work is completed. Any redevelopment agreement must represent a community consensus and careful study to ensure recovery of costs.
Any non-essential large projects that will require an increase in taxes should be put on the back burner. Despite the favorable credit rating St. Charles holds, the increasing interest rates have made any additional loans expensive and undesirable.
Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage local government? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions with your city council.
A: In my career as a scientist, I regularly work with governmental agencies such as EPA and FDA and I recognize the critical importance of groups such as these working in collaboration. I have shown ability to work with different groups of people to identify issues and act on solutions.
My style in a group setting is to listen to all parties involved and to make decisions based on data and evidence that will best address all parties' concerns. This style will be effective in producing actions that are best for all residents of St. Charles.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: In my time in the community, I have gone out of my way to stay informed about local issues. My community activities have kept me in regular touch with my neighbors and I have seen firsthand the impact of many of the issues on our quality of life. St. Charles is a great place to live and work, but we do have problems and we need to move forward dealing with them. I have the experience and ability to identify these issues and act on solutions.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: The average home price in St. Charles skyrocketed to over $400k in 2022. This means that the average person in St. Charles could not afford the average home.
It is difficult for young families to afford their homes, and virtually impossible for young families to purchase a home in St. Charles. We need to incentivize the building of quality starter homes as part of our redevelopment so that young families can continue to join us here in the best city to live and raise a family.