Tom Galante: 2023 candidate for St. Charles City Council Ward 1, 4-year
Town: St. Charles
Age on Election Day: 54
Occupation: Pricing manager
Employer: SunSource Inc.
Previous offices held: City of St. Charles Natural Resources Commission since 2019
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: Continuing to upgrade our aging water and sewer infrastructure. Water quality impacts the quality of life for our residents in many ways including health, household appliance maintenance and replacement, attracting new residents, and attracting business investment and employers.
Resident feedback indicates some differences with the recent taste test naming St. Charles water as the best in the area. The city council should direct that all the wells in St. Charles be treated similarly so the quality is consistent throughout our city. In the spirit of transparency, advise the public about the possibilities, costs, and benefits of well treatment vs. accessing Lake Michigan water.
Promote an initiative where St. Charles microbreweries collaborate to can and sell still and carbonated St. Charles water in their locations as well as St. Charles and area retailers. This would promote St. Charles, the businesses, and recyclable aluminum as an environmentally friendly container for water.
Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?
A: St. Charles finances are solid but will only remain so with foresight and diligence. Our reserves are in good shape, however I understand that the city has incurred significant debt over the years via TIFs and loans.
We need to focus on paying down our debt and avoid incurring any additional debt without a positive return on investment.
We have some significant aging infrastructure such as our water, sewer, and streets that need to be prioritized.
Especially in today's inflationary environment, the longer we wait to address needed infrastructure improvements the more they will cost in the future.
Most of all, we need to be confident that we can weather any recessions or crises without compromising the quality of life for our residents and businesses.
Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?
A: 1. Infrastructure: water/sewer (as discussed before) and streets. Our current street replacement cycle is at 50 years, and should be in the 25-30 year range. Included with streets is improving walkability and bikeability per the study conducted with resident input regarding bike-pedestrian improvements.
2. Promoting the smart economic development of our East Gateway, including Ward 1. We need to attract and maintain resilient businesses throughout our city and especially on the east side.
3. Mental health services, especially important in difficult times. All of these impact the quality of life of our residents.
Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?
A: No, I'm not in favor of compromising or reducing city services expected and deserved by our residents. The type of spending can be optimized, including the use of grants, increased use of technology with a positive return (example: electrical utilities), and partnerships with businesses and neighboring communities.
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: Water and sewer infrastructure updates and improvement.
This is a current and immediate quality of life concern for our residents and businesses. We should seek out and use grants and advantageous loan programs, such as through the Illinois EPA, so that we're NOT putting other projects "on the back burner."
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: Besides working across functional departments in business, I am in the Natural Resources Commission for the City of St. Charles and work well with others on the commission fostering ideas, programs, and initiatives. I look forward to collaborating and working with other council members on issues facing our community and bettering our community.
Progress and agreement occur when everyone feels they are heard, so my style is to be inclusive of community input when considering decisions, while being open to compromise when needed to move our city forward in a positive direction.
I am detail oriented and willing to do the work required to advance our city in a responsible and thoughtful manner. I advocate embracing greater transparency so our residents are informed in a timely manner.
Let's improve our city website so it is more user friendly and transparent, and post our meeting videos on the city website so residents can easily access city meetings and stay informed about our community.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I have four years of current experience as a commissioner on the Natural Resources Commission developing policies, collaborating with neighboring communities and groups, working in the field, and writing articles for the community in the Den and Inside St. Charles blog.
I am also a member of the St. Charles History Museum. I'm a citizen committed to St. Charles, to public service, to thinking beyond the immediate, and I could not be more excited about moving our city forward in a responsible and mindful manner.
The future of St. Charles is exciting and bright, and I look forward to being a voice for Ward 1 and the east side so our interests are represented. This citizen of St. Charles is an active participant and fan!
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: Issues that affect the quality of life in St. Charles and especially Ward 1 don't stop at the ward and city boundaries. We border West Chicago: how will their proposed additional waste transfer station potentially affect traffic, road degradation, and air quality in St. Charles?
We border Geneva: how will their industrial zoning and construction to our southeast affect roads, traffic, and access to our east gateway?
Ward 1 is very interested in our neighboring wards 2 and 4 and their success. Advocating for Ward 1 also includes being a good and involved neighbor to the wards and communities we share borders with. I will be that advocate and good neighbor, for the betterment of Ward 1 and the great City of St. Charles.