Douglas Raul Williams: 2023 candidate for Hainesville Village Board
Age on Election Day: 62
Occupation: Nutrition Educator
Employer: University of Illinois Chicago
Previous offices held: Round Lake Schools Educational Foundation (President) Avon Township (Trustee) Round Lake Consolidated School District 116 (School Board Member) Latino Coalition of Lake County (Treasurer ) Youth Build Lake County (Board of Directors)
Q: What is the most serious issue your community will face in the coming years and how should the city council or village board respond to it?
A: We are the oldest village in Lake County incorporated in 1838 and have grown since then to a population of 3498. We rely on four deep wells for water which limits our ability to grow any further through residential development. In October 2022, the village held a meeting on creating a comprehensive plan for the next twenty years. One of the top ideas presented by the community was the recruitment of more small businesses that could help with providing amenities for the residents and the ability to collect sales tax revenue. Because our population is not at or above 25,0000 residents, we do not have the power to levy a sales tax. This would require the village to place the question before the residents whether the village of Hainesville should become Home Rule. This would give the village greater powers under the Illinois State Constitution to regulate the protection of public health, safety, morals, and welfare, to license, to tax, and incur debt.
Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?
A: According to the village of Hainesville 2022-2023 budget, our total revenues are $2,361,301, one of the
biggest expenses is the contract with Grayslake Police Department at $880,000, which includes $72,455 for dispatching services. This is an essential community service that is 37 % of the budget. Hainesville entered into this contract in 2010 and has not been out to bid since then, along with other service contracts, to evaluate if we are obtaining the best services for the best price. This is an important responsibility of the village board which can always improve.
Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?
A: One priority is the maintenance and proper funding of the fifty-two acres of the Cranberry Lake Conservancy, which the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) oversees. The village took down eighty trees in 2019, and there was no plan on how to replace them. ACE explicitly informed Mayor Daley in 2019 that the village had to replace eighty trees in the next four years. As of 2023, only 40 forty trees have been replanted, and not all are mature enough to survive. Secondly, the planning and analysis of the process required to become a home rule unit via referendum. The third would be to create subcommittees for open lands, small business recruitment, and Comprehensive plan implementation.
Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?
A: The 2022-2023 Hainesville General Fund Street expense fund has under" maintenance services" totaling $344,440, and the General Fund Administration expense fund has under "other services" of $51,287, which includes a transfer of $457,048 to capital Projects Reserves. The other account would be the General Fund Administration expense fund under "professional services" totaling $119,300. These three accounts total $407, 657 and the village board should review them for potential savings or, whether they are necessary expenditures, considering our limited ability to capture new revenue.
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 village of Hainesville has done an excellent job of maintaining our sewers which have oversized pipes
and the deep wells infrastructure, built around the year 2000. The oversized pipes helps Hainesville mitigate the extreme amounts of rain produced by climate change. The funding of these projects is paid through our Capital Projects Reserves. This needs to continue along with the maintenance and funding of Cranberry Lake Conservancy and the wetlands on the east end of Hainesville. The sewer infrastructure and the wetlands work together to mitigate the impact of flooding. The continued funding of a line item for the Gathering Place at $15, 759 for the 2022-2023 budget, a small area where people can go and sit, is hard to justify because the residents do not utilize it enough. The other issue is that we become beholding to certain contractors when we ask for donations for these types of projects.
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 or city council.
A: I have served on numerous boards, and one quickly finds that you do not have the answer to every issue, but you can provide your grain of sand to the solution or question. A good example would be a decision we had to make on the Round Lake Consolidated School District board on the opening of the first school-based health clinic in Lake County. We were experiencing pushback from groups outside our school district to not include reproductive health issues. Illinois state law allows children thirteen years old to receive these types of services. I had to put aside the fact that I felt parents should be involved in their children's health care. The decision to me came down to the fact the high school was experiencing on average 129 student pregnancies. What was the greater good, my personal beliefs or the fact these young ladies would be at a higher risk of not graduating high school and living in poverty? Personal ideologies should not drive our decision making on boards.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I grew up with my grandmother for over 5 years and learned compassion, and always to be grateful for another day of life. She always reiterated that I was not more deserving of God's blessings than someone else, and to always pay it forward. I served in the Air Force Reserves and Army Reserves which taught me the meaning of service to my country and others. That is how I have approached my life. I currently work as a Nutrition Educator at the University of Illinois Chicago for the Office of Community Engagement and Neighborhood Partnerships, with the Chicago Partnership for Health Prevention program. I work with SNAP eligible families and children and teach them the importance of eating healthy and physical activity every day. My wife and I took care of my mom on dialysis for 11 years and she passed away in March 2020. I do not wish anyone to experience that if I can help. I have sworn my allegiance several times to support the U.S. Constitution. That is how I will comport myself.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I love to exercise and run and it would be great for the village of Hainesville to have an annual run that would encompass our neighborhoods and the Cranberry Lake path. This would help to highlight the beauty of our village and a way to generate revenue as many other villages now do.