MP Journal Questions

The following questions were recently asked of each of the candidates for Mayor by the Mount Prospect Journal during the 2021 Election.  Below are my answers to those questions.

  1. Why run for Mayor since the Mayor only votes to break a tie?

Having observed many Mayors over my 37 years in the Village, I know the role of Mayor is far more than just breaking tie votes.  The Mayor has the ability to help set the course and direction of our Community as well as exert influence over regional issues impacting Mount Prospect which can ultimately shape the solution to those issues with an outcome of helping and protecting our Village.

For example, when you look back at the most recent Mayors, Mayor Juracek has been a major influence on the O’Hare Noise Commission, Mayor Wilks served on the Cook County Economic Development Advisory Committee helping to bring economic vitality to the region, Mayor Farley had a significant influence over regional flood control which led to the building of the flood wall along River Road, and Mayor Krause jump started downtown redevelopment with the formation of the first local Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District allowed by state law.

I also believe the Mayor can help generate proactive community outreach to directly connect with and receive input from our citizens as well as promote citizen involvement in our local government.  To bring color to this statement, I offer the following.

My record shows I have been an ardent supporter of downtown redevelopment.  In fact, I first became involved with the Village challenging a proposed development.  Then Mayor Krause listened to the citizens’ concerns over that proposed TIF development.  Mayor Krause then stopped that development, formed a citizens committee to find alternative developments, and went a different direction.  An excellent example of representative government.

Recently, we had a similar citizens’ challenge to the Maple Street Lofts Development around concerns of density and traffic.  I was extremely outspoken about the fact that there were far too few opportunities for the people to be heard.  In the end, no changes were made to the development as a result of citizen input. When the vote was taken by the Village Board, I voted with the people and against the Maple Street Lofts, as proposed.

  1. What is the biggest difference between you and the other candidates? Fully explain.

 I am the only candidate with significant depth of experience and valuable institutional knowledge under my belt as a result of serving the people of Mount Prospect as their Village Trustee for the past 30 years.

I was there when the Village put our first flood control project in place to protect our neighborhoods. I was there when downtown redevelopment formed its first TIF and redevelopment began in earnest.  I was there and supported the renaissance of Randhurst, one of the largest tax generators for our Village.  I helped manage the Village through the Great Recession making some exceedingly difficult financial decisions to keep the Village afloat.  As my record shows, during my time on the Village Board, I have exerted extremely responsible influence over our precious Village tax revenues and overall finances.  I have been a “fiscal watchdog” for the people.  Other than myself, absolutely no other candidate running for Mayor in our election on April 6, 2021 can make any one of those statements.

I believe my common sense approach to moving the Village forward applying a “contemporary” viewpoint with the goal of providing high quality service level at a reasonable cost set me apart from the other candidates.  Another differentiating factor which sets me apart is that I continually strive to keep Mount Prospect a desirable place to live, raise a family, and run a business. Finally, my top priority is and will continue to be to keep our property values strong and growing.

As a final comment, I have honorably and faithfully served the people of Mount Prospect in my capacity as Village Trustee for the past 30 years and I am hopeful that the people feel I have earned their support to become their next Mayor.

  1. Where do you see the Village 4 years from now from a financial, development, and social standpoint?

In the next four years, we will have made significant progress on each of these aspects but not without a great deal of thought and effort.  As the local economy improves, our Village’s financial resources and outlook will continue to grow giving us greater financial flexibility.  Development and redevelopment will be on a positive upward trajectory. Mount Prospect has areas ripe for redevelopment.  Shifting retail shopping trends may give rise to redevelopment of certain retail zoned properties.  In addition, as the South Mount Prospect Plan begins to take hold, there are significant areas of land that will lend themselves to redevelopment and revitalization such as the former United Airlines Headquarters.  This property alone represents a huge opportunity for South Mount Prospect and when redeveloped will provide a huge benefit to Mount Prospect, as a whole.  Finally, 4 years from now we will have made significant and purposeful improvements relative to celebrating our diversity and becoming an increasingly more diverse community.

  1. What do you see is the biggest challenge facing the Village in the next year or two and how would you face it head on?

Economic growth and financial vitality are absolutely two of the biggest challenges facing the Village.  The economic impact of the pandemic has been harsh.  People have lost their jobs, businesses have had to close, and tax revenues are down.  Over the next two years, as the economy turns the corner, we will need to help recreate economic vitality in the Village.  We will face this challenge head on by actively assisting our Commercial landlords to lease their open spaces.  Increasing proactive outreach to the business community through the Community Development Department needs to produce results which will contribute to moving this revitalization forward by helping prospective businesses, large and small, understand that Mount Prospect is well located, has multiple major throughfares carrying thousands of people through the Village daily, has excellent demographics, has a population of potential employees, and because of all of this, would be a great place to locate and do business.

  1. When it comes to recreational marijuana, did the Village make the wrong decision over a year ago by not permitting the sale of recreational marijuana resulting in missing out on revenue dollars? Why or why not?

We absolutely did not make a wrong decision a year or more ago. The wait was appropriate and intelligent as we took that time to understand and learn as well as conduct a Village-sponsored referendum to hear directly from the citizens as to how they felt about the sale of recreational marijuana in Mount Prospect.  During the time that we waited, the Village of Mount Prospect learned a great deal from the communities that ran blindly forward.  Our Elected Officials, Village Staff, and our Citizens developed an understanding of the impacts of recreational marijuana and how to deal with the issues associated with local sales and the delivery of recreational marijuana.

Keep in mind that this past summer, I was the Village Trustee who brought forward the idea of a Village-wide referendum to hear the voice of the people of Mount Prospect, directly.  Through the referendum, the people of Mount Prospect have now officially and directly spoken and their Village Board is listening.  The sale of Recreational Marijuana in Mount Prospect can and is moving forward.

  1. Some restaurants are barely hanging on during this pandemic and the Village is providing some relief, but what about other businesses that are barely hanging on? What would you propose to help those business out?

 Unfortunately, the Village does not have the financial means at the local level to help all of its businesses.  However, the Federal Government is offering various programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP Program) to help small businesses and their employees through this financially difficult time. Additionally, we must all shop and spend our dollars locally.  It makes a difference.

On a regional level, the Village and our fellow municipalities in the Northwest Municipal Conference, need to push our State and Federal officials to get our local and regional populations vaccinated as soon as possible.  It is clear that current efforts at the Federal and State levels have been off to a sluggish start.  The officials administering this program need to accelerate the delivery of the vaccines with the goal of inoculating the general population sooner and at a faster rate.  The faster people can become protected from the virus thru the vaccine, the sooner life and the economy can return to some level of normalcy.

  1. With 2021 still up in the air when it comes to the pandemic and people still struggling financially, what can the village do to ease the burden for people? Flat tax levy going into 2022? Reduce fees?

Keep taxes and fees down.  I supported and voted for a 0% increase to the tax levy in the last budget and would support a 0% increase to the tax levy for 2022.  I also proposed a 0% tax levy for the 2020 budget but could not find the votes to pass a 0% levy.  The Village has already suspended a number of fees which has been helpful.  Finally, we may need to delay several additional capital projects budgeted for 2021 until the economy improves and funding is less tenuous.

  1. How would you change the Mayor position going forward to make it your own and different from past mayors?

 While I would certainly build on the policies and practices establish by previous Mayors and Boards, new issues are always coming forward with the changing times.  I would be ready to tackle those issues and use our collective mind power to solve the problems and challenges resulting from these issues.  As I have tried to do over the past few years, as Mayor, I will promote greater proactive outreach to the people of Mount Prospect in an attempt to hear from individual citizens, neighborhoods, and organizations within the Village.  We need to hear directly and regularly from the people of Mount Prospect.

 9. The Mayor receives a low annual salary. Would you propose to increase it due to all the work that goes into the position, decrease it, or keep it the same? Fully explain your position.

As far as I am concerned, serving as Mayor or Trustee in Mount Prospect is not about compensation but rather about giving back to the Community, keeping our Village vital, and helping to move Mount Prospect forward.  A large portion of my time over the past 30 years has been dedicated to serving our community as a Village Trustee as well as serving various charitable organizations.  The small stipend Board members receive help defray the costs of running for office as well as covering various household expenses associated with serving on the Board.  Bottom line, however anyone does it, I believe it is important to give back for the sake of giving back.

  1. Red light cameras come up every now and then. With so many busy intersections in town, would you support installing red light cameras, which has also shown that it can be a revenue generator for the community?

Never !! . . . . In my opinion, red-light cameras do not provide greater safety and are simply an illegitimate and unethical method of fleecing the driving public.  I never have nor will I ever support the installation of red-light cameras in Mount Prospect.

  1. Does the Village need to improve when it comes to diversity? Why or why not? How can you make the Village more diverse?

 Improving on and promoting all aspects of diversity in Mount Prospect is a stated and ongoing strategic goal of the Village Board and will continue to present ongoing challenges for our community to overcome.  Mount Prospect is a multi-cultural Village with representation from many cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds.  As I have in the past, I will continue to embrace and celebrate diversity in our Village.  The fact is that a diverse Community results in a richer and fuller community because of diversity of thought, knowledge, opinion, and points of view that it brings.

Generally, I believe Mount Prospect is a welcoming community.  However, of late, I have come to understand that some people of color may not feel that Mount Prospect is as welcoming as we might think and may actively choose not to move to Mount Prospect.  We need to explore this and understand what messages these prospective citizens may be receiving and work to change those thoughts about Mount Prospect.

We need to send a clear message that Mount Prospect is an open and welcoming community. I certainly cannot tackle this issue alone.  If elected Mayor, I will task the Community Engagement Committee with getting to the root of this issue, understanding the depth of this issue, and to begin looking for ways to change that reputation.  

12. Does the Village have too much debt and should there be concern during these tough economic times? Why or why not?

 Over the years, past Village Boards have responsibly managed the debt level of the Village so as not to get in over our heads.  As a result of a couple of recent costly capital projects, the Village has doubled its outstanding debt from approximately $50 million to $110 million.  We have the capacity to manage that level of debt but I personally find this amount of debt concerning and expressed that vehemently during our deliberations. With this considerably higher debt, the flexibility around managing the overall finances of the Village becomes more constrained as paying interest and principal is a legal, ethical, and reputational priority.  Until this larger debt load is paid down to a more manageable level, the Village will have to dedicate a greater amount of its financial resources to the payment of principal and interest.  This becomes even more concerning in an economic downturn like we are now experiencing.  As Village revenues become more constrained by a difficult economy, debt repayment uses a greater percentage of the Village’s financial resources leaving less for operations and other necessary capital projects.

  1. Any Other Comments

 I believe I bring a consistent, open, forthright, common sense approach to my current role as a Village Trustee.  That is my trademark approach.  My actions and record absolutely support this statement.  I assure the people of Mount Prospect that if I am elected Mayor of Mount Prospect on April 6th this will not change.

I also believe in proactive, direct citizen outreach with the objective of understanding the concerns of our citizens expressed in their own words.  Regular neighborhood meetings held around the Village and citizen surveys are two excellent tools to hear directly from the people of Mount Prospect.  I will promote the use of both.

Finally, I want to say to all the people of Mount Prospect, after serving you as your Village Trustee these many years, it would be one of the greatest honors of my life to continue to serve you, the people of Mount Prospect, as your Mayor.