Guido Nardini: 2023 candidate for Elmhurst City Council Ward 6
Age on Election Day: 50
Employer: Club Lago Restaurant
Previous offices held: Park Board Advisory Council
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: Elmhurst has been and should remain the town I grew up in: a city with full services but small town charm within the orbit of our cultural hub, Chicago. Development is the way of any city's future and looking at our DuPage neighbors we can find examples of successes and failures. We need refined development in Elmhurst. Land use must be in concert with Elmhurst's Comprehensive Plan, the public and transparent rubric for building. That way the voters can make sure their elected officials are keeping with their town's development identity.
Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?
A: Elected officials should be vigilant stewards of the community's money. I try to stretch every dollar at my business. I hope I can do the same on City Council. If elected, I would enter a council with reserves of 25% of its operating budget and one that contributes more than is required to its pension funds. Those pensions should be fully funded by the early 2030s. That means a promise made in Elmhurst is a promise kept. Looking around to our neighbors, that's the exception to the rule. Getting out of Covid, Elmhurst hasn't raised taxes for 2023. That's a win but there are debts to be addressed. Our flooding remediation campaign cost $13 million. Whether through property tax increase, home rule sales tax increase, or a stormwater fee, that debt has to be tackled.
Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?
A: The lion's share of Elmhurst's spending should and will be allocated to public works, safety and pensions; those are its promises. It's easy to forget our cultural institutions however. They represent small percentages of our annual budget but go a long way to forming our identity as a town. Elmhurst has a world class library. It's 5 star according to the Library Journal, in the company of only 13 other Illinois libraries. And 2022 is the 7th consecutive year for that distinction. The Elmhurst History Museum has won the Silver Muse award from the American Alliance of Museums and the Excellence award from the American Association of State and Local History. This is a shop that punches well above its weight, thanks to Elmhurst's Heritage Foundation. Elmhurst is a town of good housing stock and great schools including a university on a straight Union Pacific West shot to Chicago. The investment in any Elmhurst-specific cultural attraction further distinguishes us.
Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?
A: Elmhurst is a gem and a destination for new residents. I'm committed to spending no public funds on residential development. Paying for utility access to an empty parcel is one thing, but guaranteeing a developer's requested profit margin for a project is another thing altogether. Our tax dollars belong to the community for services, public safety and infrastructure. After years of facilitating development in our city centre, our vacancy rate is 2%. Our density will reward any developer looking to build here. The council will be an engaged partner in any and all projects, just not with public funds. The market will bear out.
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: Infrastructure is where the rubber meets the road; it's fundamental to every municipality. Sometimes funds come from the state and as "free" projects, they dictate our construction priorities. Elmhurst does a great job maintaining its roads, parkways and trees. If there were a pressing need for the 6th Ward, my answer would be different. An Elmhurst less reliant on cars is a better Elmhurst. The Elmhurst Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan is a smart and sustainable project that will make our north south corridors less congested when school gets on weekdays. These plans come from public input, can be implemented incrementally and are pennies on the dollar to major public works.
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 experience in business both in dealing with vendors and customers I have learned to find common ground with everyone. No matter how charged the environment or flawed the argument, arriving to a "yes" is a win, an imperative. In Elmhurst's past fraught with stormwater floods, there were conflicts between city council, park district and school board. I'm committed to making sure intergovernmental relationships always are constructive, always bear fruit.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I grew up in this town and I am proud of this town. I'm raising my kids here. I got my degree in Champaign and make my living in Chicago. It's my watch now and I want to make sure my kids can return in a generation like I did and find their hometown one step better than the way they left it. Challenge accepted.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I want to improve Elmhurst's interface with codeRED, the online service that links neighbors' phone numbers to Elmhurst Police Department's emergency services. Every number added means one more home receives a warning from EPD in the event of a local emergency. If I am unsuccessful in winning office but enroll many new neighbors in our codeRED while introducing myself door to door, it's a win for South Elmhurst.