Kevin Patrick: 2023 candidate for Villa Park Village Board
Town: Villa Park
Age on Election Day: 41
Previous offices held: Villa Park Village Trustee since 2019
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: A serious challenge our community will face is the looming pension crisis. The U.S. has found that many municipalities are finding themselves unable to pay their debts and pension costs in many cities have grown beyond the ability of property taxes alone to pay for them.
Villa Park finds itself in a decent position financially to address this concern for now. In June 2019, Gov. Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which legalized the consumption and possession of recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older.
In November 2019, the board approved a 3% municipal retail tax on the sale of cannabis in Villa Park. It was decided that 1% of the totals would go toward fire pensions, 1% toward police pensions, and the other 1% toward parks and recreation.
The board has to continue finding alternate revenue sources to prevent rising property taxes and forcing cuts in local services. I'm not an advocate of raising property taxes or reducing resident services.
Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?
A: I believe our community's finances are in good condition. For 20 consecutive years, the Village of Villa Park has won the Government Finance Officers Association's Distinguished Budget Presentation, which was established in 1984 to encourage and assist local governments like the Village of Villa Park to prepare a budget of the very highest quality as set forth by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting.
Our Village Finance Director Chuck Howard has been doing an amazing job with maintaining and overseeing our budget. This year, Village Manager Harline created an informative budget workshop for the Village Board and has made this year's budgeting process more participatory, not only including department heads, but also division heads and administrative staff. Manager Harline's forward-thinking and ability to unify staff in preparation for future budgeting will be extremely beneficial to our future.
Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?
A: I believe that the top three priorities for spending during the next four years should be investing in our infrastructure, economic development, and proper staffing levels. Aging infrastructure is concerning and it encompasses many challenges like residential flooding, streets and sidewalks, and village-owned buildings.
Eco Terra, The Union, Casey's, and other developments are all helping to bring in more tax revenue. Village Economic Development Director Patrick Burke has done a great job with attracting new developers. His knowledge and expertise will be extremely valuable as the board prepares for the newly approved St. Charles Road Commercial Corridor Redevelopment Project.
Lastly, by maintaining proper staffing levels within the village, we will be able to provide better and more efficient services to our residents. More specifically, I would like for the village to consider additional personnel in the fire, police, and public works departments.
Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?
A: I think that there is opportunity for the village to pay closer attention to the different change orders being submitted by contractors with future and current projects. I think we need to encourage economic growth and development, but at the same time be mindful of how much these projects are costing the village.
I've been told in the past that the Village of Villa Park hasn't always been the easiest municipality to work with regarding new developers and contractors. We need to change this perception. We need to encourage new development and create an atmosphere in which developers want to come to Villa Park.
Taking a closer look at some of these change orders will help establish a reputation for Villa Park as being a fair and consistent partner to work with.
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: Flooding continues to be a major infrastructure concern for Villa Park. According to FEMA, "just one inch of floodwater can cause up to $25K in damage."
We need to make sure that our residents aren't faced with this sort of financial burden. Public Works Director Michael Guerra has been instrumental in the implementation of the Jackson Pond Expansion & Overflow Projects.
These projects are essential is alleviating current and future flooding problems; the village, however, needs to continue to strategize and identify future challenges. The village is currently budgeted for many of these projects, but we need to continue looking for additional revenue sources as well as any available grant opportunities that might exist.
All of the current village projects have been budgeted for and luckily they don't have to be put on the back burner, but given the fact that we are facing uncertain times, moving forward I think it's important to be mindful of future spending habits.
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've taken on many different leadership roles in the past. In the military, one of the most important tools that a leader can possess is the ability to communicate effectively. Without effective communication, you jeopardize your mission and compromise your goals. I value effective communication when working in a group to determine policy.
Conversations need to take place for progress to happen. That's why I support the board's decision to bring back committee of the whole meetings. These meetings allow for better transparency in government and give the residents an opportunity to voice their concerns.
During my first term as village trustee, I strongly advocated for public engagement meetings for Lufkin Park, the new community recreation building, as well as the potential development projects on Park Blvd. We need to engage our residents more frequently, especially with future development coming our way. Communication on all levels is necessary for our success as a village.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: In 2008, I was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
My unit's slogan was "Facta Non Verba," which translates to "Actions speak louder than words." We live in a time filled with disinformation. It's in our news, it's on TV, and it's on social media.
It's easy for people to get lost in the political polarization that exists today in our country; however, I truly do believe that actions speak louder than words, and that is exactly what I offer the residents of Villa Park.
I believe that I'm the best candidate for the job because my actions have shown that I truly care about the well-being of the residents of Villa Park. Four years ago I campaigned on bringing better transparency to our village, making it my goal to ensure that our residents were given the opportunities they needed and deserved to express their thoughts, ideas, and concerns to the village board and management. The residents of Villa Park will always be my first priority.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: The Village of Villa Park is known as the Garden Village and I believe that we can do more to make that a reality.
We need to capitalize on our geographical location by utilizing public spaces surrounding the Illinois Prairie Path, Great Western Trail, Salt Creek Greenway Trail, and existing parks and recreation areas by beautifying them with gardens that are both educational and entertaining. There is a lot of opportunity for us to enrich these areas with beneficial and eco-friendly gardens.
Community gardens have been known to relieve stress and increase wellness in people. They promote healthier lifestyles and give our community a sense of pride. With the Tri-Trail Connector Project in progress, this would be a great opportunity for the Village of Villa Park to enhance these areas in a positive and environmentally friendly way.