Peter Connolly: 2023 candidate for Wayne Village Board
Age on Election Day: 75
Occupation: Retired commercial banker
Employer: JPMorgan Chase Bank -- retired
Previous offices held: Wayne Village Board trustee (1995 to present)
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 important issue we are facing is making the correct decision on the future space needs for our police department/village hall which I address later.
Many residents have commented to me and others to voice their frustration on the volume of misinformation being posted on Facebook together with the lack of civility displayed when residents disagree with the postings. I believe this is a serious issue.
Throughout my time on the board, there has always been a high level of civility between the board and our residents. There have been disagreements, but everyone has been civil, and we have respected each other, and we all continue to be friends and neighbors.
I believe the best way to address this social media issue is by giving our residents easier and more accurate ways of accessing information by improving the village's website and by reactivating the village's Facebook page to provide a better vehicle to ask questions and share concerns, which we hope to accomplish soon.
Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?
A: I would rate our finances as strong, especially for a non-Home Rule Community. We consistently look for grant money to offset expenditures and control our spending which helped Wayne be named the "Most Frugal Municipality in DuPage County" in 2018. We have a General Fund Balance at FYE 4/30/22 of $2,548,000 and generated a net combined surplus of $243,000. For this fiscal year we are projecting a net operating surplus of $279,000.
At a town hall meeting, our residents supported the village board's desire to do whatever was necessary to preserve our police department. Accordingly, police expenditures were increased by $277,000 and now total $1,319,000 or 74% of total expenditures in order to fund the transition from part-time to full-time officers and to increase hours to pre- pandemic levels which now allows us to provide 24-hour coverage, 7 days a week.
All other operating expenditures (administrative, building and public works) remained virtually unchanged from the prior year.
Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?
A: The number one priority for spending continues to be doing everything within our control to ensure the safety of our residents. Wayne has always been safe, but we are not immune to crime. Our increased budget for the police department allows us to patrol all of Wayne's streets and neighborhoods not only for traffic enforcement but also for suspicious activity on a 24-hour basis.
The second priority will be determining the initial cost and ongoing costs for a potential new village hall/police department building. We have conducted one well attended and well received Town Hall meeting on this subject and will conduct future meetings to explain alternatives and budget considerations. We don't have all the answers today, but we will prior to making a final decision.
The third priority is maintaining our streets and roads, we spend a lot of time analyzing our road maintenance program. Being proactive in regular maintenance saves a lot of money down the road (no pun intended).
Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?
A: We look at our expenditures yearly as we prepare our budget and try to trim and fine tune on an ongoing basis so it would be rare that a large curtailment would be found. In addition, we run all areas of the village, excluding our police department, with part-time employees. Controlling costs and living within our means is part of this board's culture so there are not areas I can currently identify that would generate a sizable savings.
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 project is determining the home for village hall and police department. Our existing village hall is at least 80 years old and has lasted far longer than anyone could have imagined. We hired Williams Associates, one of the most recognized architects of municipal buildings in the Midwest, to help and give guidance to determine space needs, accessibility issues and unique requirements for a municipal building. We held a well-received and well-attended town hall meeting to go over this phase with our residents. We will now be researching various building and location alternatives, analyzing budget considerations and will hold another town hall meeting.
Due to our long-term relationships, we were able to obtain a $500,000 grant to assist with the cost of the project. Financing will be required for at least one of the alternatives and our residents will have to approve any borrowings by the village.
Normal road maintenance is the only other infrastructure project.
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 have been doing this effectively for 28 years as trustee and in managing young talent throughout my 40 years in commercial banking. My management style involves obtaining as much information as possible for the board to consider and that decisions should be based on the input of all team members and relevant parties, starting with newer members. I believe for a committee or board to be successful, that everyone needs to be open to the views of others and willing to accept and support them when they further the goals desired. This is a key attribute we also look for when we have the opportunity to appoint trustees to open board seats. Teamwork is important to success.
I think the proven results we have produced over the years in managing development and traffic, financial responsibility, supporting public safety and preserving Wayne's rural character and heritage are proof that the current board works well as a team, and I would hope we will be able to continue to do so.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I ran for trustee 28 years ago because I loved Wayne and I wanted to help preserve and protect those qualities that made Wayne a special place. That is still true when you look at all the new residents that have moved to Wayne over the past couple of years -- we have managed to keep Wayne special.
My professional background in finance and years of experience adds value to the board. Experienced board members are invaluable in coaching new members and preparing them for larger responsibilities. Without the three incumbents getting reelected, the total Board would have a combined 11 years of experience -- our breadth and depth of knowledge is irreplaceable.
I am a proud advocate of our police department. As the trustee in charge of public safety, I have the most involvement working with our Chief to deliver top quality police service to our residents. The board's commitment to hire the best qualified candidate is why we have Chief Roberts and his officers, who are doing a fantastic job.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: Consistently accomplishing goals to better the community does not happen overnight or by chance. It is the result of experienced leaders using skills they have learned and applied over the years. We have never talked about or listed all of our accomplishments, but friends have told us that we really need to let people know.
Many residents have told us we are doing a very good job running the Village and need to do a better job informing the residents, especially newer residents, of everything we have accomplished. To that point, please visit our website PreserveAndProtectWayne.com.
Eileen, Ed and I are confident in our ability to continue earning our resident's trust by working to ensure our village is a comfortable place to live and gather.