Lee A. Trejo: 2023 candidate for Roselle Village Board
Age on Election Day: 44
Occupation: Senior manager
Previous offices held: Current Roselle Village Trustee
Q: What is the most serious issue your community will face in the coming years and how should the village board respond to it?
A: The most serious issue facing Roselle is costs associated with water/wastewater infrastructure. The costs are coming from unfunded mandates from IEPA, age of the infrastructure, and capacity needs of the system. The costs associated with upgrading our system is projected to be $80MM and work needs to be completed by 2027.
Our village board should respond by engaging with our elected officials to figure out ways to get more time to complete these projects or ways to get grant funding to ease the burden of Roselle residents. Second, we need to be transparent with the public on the scope of this project and make sure they have a good understanding of our finances as well as limitations being a non-home rule community.
We have already taken action on both fronts -- seeking out grants and we are going to host of community forum on March 15.
Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?
A: Our board takes transparency of our financial position seriously and I am proud that Roselle has been awarded the Government Finance Officers Association of the United State and Canada Certificate of Achievement in financial reporting for 32 consecutive years.
Roselle's financial position is strong on multiple fronts. We pass budgets that are both balanced and generate a surplus. This laser focus on budgeting and managing our finances has us in a position to end FY23 with approximately 55% of our expenditures in reserve, which is above the goal we set for ourselves in our strategic plan.
Finally, our financial performance was recognized by Standard & Poor's Rating Service as they upgraded the village's bond rating to AA+ since I've been on the board.
Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?
A: The three top priorities are water/wastewater/stormwater projects, infrastructure in the town center area as part of the municipal campus plan, and the reforestation of Roselle.
The water/wastewater/stormwater projects are needed due to mandates, aging of the systems, the need to expand capacity due to development in Roselle, and flooding issues.
The projects will include removing nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater as well as replacing lead service lines. I recently proposed a needs-based program to help residents at a recent board meeting.
The area in our town center known as "sparkle plaza" is in disrepair. We need to execute some of the 2022 Municipal Campus Plan and build the Petal Porch by leveraging TIF or ARPA funds.
Finally, Roselle continues to recover from the emerald ash borer infestation that killed the ash trees in Roselle. Rebuilding the tree inventory with a diverse set of species will be critical to the quality of life in Roselle.
Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?
A: I don't think there are significant opportunities to cut spending at this time. We run a fiscally conservative town that produces budgets with surpluses to ensure community needs are met. The only thing I can think of is that we can potentially cut our membership to the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau and DuPage Sports Commission that we recently joined to see what sort of ROI we get from joining. However, I fully expect the professionals at those two organizations to deliver for Roselle.
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 projects are the water/wastewater projects mentioned earlier. It must be paid for because some of them are being mandated by the IEPA and others need to be done to ensure we have reliable infrastructure for the residents of Roselle.
I am looking forward to hearing from our residents at our community forum on March 15 to discuss funding sources, but clearly there won't be one source of funding. It will likely need to be a combination of rate hikes, grants, time extensions, and potentially asking the residents to give us the authority to issue bonds via referendum.
There isn't much we can put on the back burner. If you look at our 5-year capital improvement plan, most of it either relates to street maintenance, stormwater, and limited projects in out years that don't relate to the first two, which means they are budgeted for FY23.
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 village board.
A: I'm a collaborator who respects other viewpoints and encourages dialogue to seek to find common ground on issues so the community's needs are met. have a lot of experience working in team settings including in my career, with the nonprofit board, my MBA studies, and with the village board. It is important to respect diversity of viewpoints and leverage the strengths of others in situations. Additionally, it is important to call out when I think I'm an expert on a particular issue. My strengths were recognized by several mayors in Roselle as I was named to work groups to create the yard flooding grant program, pick the new village attorney, and am currently part of the team that is selecting a new police chief for Roselle.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I'm a lifelong Roselle resident and currently serve as a village trustee. I have a strong educational background that includes a Master's degree in Sociology (Criminology) and I am currently working on a Master's in Business Administration. In addition, I'm on the board of directors of a nonprofit and have experience working at a Fortune 100 company. Finally, I have leadership, analytics, and strategic planning skills.
I also bring diversity to the board. First, I believe I'm the only American of Hispanic descent on the board of trustees, which is the second largest group in Roselle according to the U.S. Census. Second, I'm the only member of the current board of trustees that has young kids. This allows me to see issues in the community others on the board might not.
For example, at the beginning of the school, I initiated a review of school zone signage due to seeing signage missing around one school, which resulted in new signage around schools in town.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I would like to get a National Night Out Back in Roselle. Our police have a strong relationship with the residents, but we are one of the only towns in our immediate area that doesn't have National Night Out. Historically, we eliminated it due to the Bounce Back to School event hosted by the park district.