Laurel Moad: 2023 candidate for St. Charles City Council Ward 4, 4-year
Town: St. Charles
Age on Election Day: 69
Occupation: Senior consultant/executive coach
Employer: Independent contractor with MOHR Retail
Previous offices held: Appointed-Plan Commissioner
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: I believe that the aging infrastructure in St. Charles, including our network of roads, and sewer and water systems are in need of significant improvements.
These issues and the associated costs are common with mature municipalities and are something we need to be conscious of as we plan for our future.
Over the next several years, the city council, in conjunction with staff, will need to identify a strategic and planful approach to a long-term solution that addresses the replacement and repairs required.
Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?
A: Despite the challenges of the COVID crisis, St. Charles has a good bond rating.
St. Charles has a debt service resulting from bonds issued to pay for infrastructure needs that has accumulated over multiple administrations.
A portion of the general fund has been used each year to pay down these bonds, resulting in fewer dollars available to fund other projects.
This is why it is important to follow a strategic plan that accounts for infrastructure needs while also approving thoughtful economic development projects that will drive revenue to our city and offset the burden on taxpayers.
While a portion of our general fund has been used each year to pay down bonds, the current administration has formally established a schedule to pay down the current debt service, and minimum standards for a bond to be considered for future projects.
Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?
A: • City Infrastructure: The development of a long-term plan to prioritize road replacement or repair while addressing the underlying water and sewer main issues throughout the road projects.
• Assess the full costs associated with improving the former police station property utilizing the data being formulated by city staff and outside consultants and determine whether the city or a developer should bear those costs. Identify the development feasibility for the property and create the associated RFP for developers' response.
• Plan, develop and implement the means to support pedestrian and bicycle movement throughout the downtown, connecting neighborhoods and pathways. Doing so will help to alleviate traffic congestion and some of the associated parking pressure in our downtown.
Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?
A: Given the budgeted General Funds, only 18% of the General Fund is budgeted for community economic development and incentives and for all public work projects. The remaining 82% are fixed expenses.
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: • Replacement of aging and deteriorating roads is a key priority.
• State and federal grant money should be researched, and when available requested. Each infrastructure project should be assessed for economy of scale to determine the cost benefits.
• I believe it's important to take a balanced approach between funding infrastructure needs and city services, while supporting our businesses, and responsible growth. St. Charles was chosen as a top 15 destination city by World Atlas.
I support investing in the amenities our residents and visitors use and enjoy. For example, I support the creation and completion of the First Street Plaza.
This is a great example of a project that helps build community, supports our businesses and enhances St. Charles as a destination for visitors.
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: My extensive work as a retail executive and work in the nonprofit sector have shaped how I lead. For example, I work cross functionally with colleagues in a collaborative manor and with community volunteers to find common ground and facilitate discussion to reach consensus.
My diverse consulting experiences have informed how I influence. When working with clients, I listen more than I talk, then by asking questions, I am able to shape the discussion to influence an outcome. I understand the attributes of a leader are consistent no matter the business.
I foster a unified effort to gain a mutual understanding of the facts to drive the team to consensus, not division.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I understand of the complexity of the role. A wide spectrum of issues come before the council that require a basis of knowledge and understanding in order to reach conclusion. I am curious by nature, willing to listen, and to ask the right questions.
I bring positivity and objectivity to the role, not an agenda or an emotional opinion. I intend to lean on the experts to inform me of the issues and have respectful open dialogue with fellow council members and work collaboratively to reach consensus.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: While there is talk about improving walkability and bikeability in St. Charles, my extensive work with the River Corridor Foundation affords me the ability to understand the ways and means to make such efforts happen.
I propose the continuation of the multiuse path on Riverside Drive north of Illinois Street to Main Street, and the development of a path underneath Route 64 emerging onto a bike lane or path continuing north of Main Street.
The creation of this "underpass" would alleviate traffic from backing up in the downtown by moving pedestrian and bicycle traffic under the road, improving traffic flow.
The addition of this pathway would enhance a healthy and active lifestyle for residents and visitors while truly improving the bikeability and walkability of St. Charles.