Elgin City Council candidates reply to our questionnaire.

 

Five candidates responded to our questionnaire. The other candidates did not reply.  Click on Read More and Scroll down to read the responses of all five.  

Anthony Ortiz

  • How would you address homelessness in Elgin?

I believe the community, City Hall, non-profits, and our neighboring villages and cities need to work hand in hand to help try to solve this problem. Homelessness is an issue that is impacting all communities.

 

I support PADS and their great efforts to help the homeless in Elgin and the surrounding areas. The city owns many buildings through-out Elgin and 600 S. State Street is one of them. This property is located on the edge of Elgin away from all the downtown soup kitchens and public transportation. So, is this building the best suitable location? Maybe it is, but again I would like the everyone to work together on this and not force it into a certain neighborhood without community conversion where all the stakeholders can voice their thoughts and ideas.

 

As a city councilman, I will help create a plan with non-profits, residents, and the city. So, no matter what final location is picked it will be a successful building and all the homeless get the services they need. I would like everyone to work together on this.

  • Would you support the establishment of a Department of Human Services in Elgin?

Yes

  • How should Elgin respond to the Climate Emergency?

Elgin needs to make all public buildings L.E.E.D.S. certified. As of now no city owned buildings fall under this certification. There is one building in Elgin with this certification and that a building owned by Grand Victoria Foundation. With making more buildings L.E.E.D.S. approved it will help with not having to rely on fossil fuels and move to a renewable energy source and help with pollution.

  • How would you support Elgin’s downtown area?

The city needs to partner with and work with the state to get the Rivers Edge tax incentives into our downtown. Aurora, the Tri-Cities have tapped into these tax incentives to help build and grow their downtown. Downtown also has Tif Districts within it. Where downtown property owners already pay money into it. With these two sources of income will help the downtown gain its footing again and begin the post-pandemic rebuild. Finally, the city needs to work closer with the DNA to develop a strategic plan for a bright growth and future. This will help eliminate the current kick the can down the road approach.

 

I would advocate to help bring those tax incentives as I stated above and work with code and building departments to create a more efficient process for new business. I also want to help bring an updated communication infrastructure to our downtown and rest of the city. This will be attractive to new business. Our downtown has a lot of potential and we need to show business owners we have their backs!

  • Would you support a living wage ordinance for Elgin?

Yes.

  • What would you do to increase the health and well-being of residents of Elgin? Is this within the purview of the council?

I have a plan the will help our seniors and veterans with creating a healthy lifestyle and excise routine. By partnering with partnering with Non-Profit organizations and making inter-governmental agreements with the Elgin and Hanover Township to bring more veteran and senior programs and services to the City of Elgin. For example, I believe we should give back to our seniors and veterans so we should have a free or discounted fitness membership at the Elgin Rec Centers for these groups. Many smaller villages and townships around Elgin offer them. So, I think Elgin should give back to these great groups of people. 

  • Do you support a genuinely independent citizen oversight committee for Elgin’s police department?

I believe no matter what position or job a person has everyone needs to be held to the same standard of accountability. So, by having an independent oversight there will be less bias on the recommended discipline for any officer that has a complaint against them. Also, if the complaint ends up being unfounded then it will be our residents coming to that conclusion not city hall or the police department. Also, the council just approved a contract with an agency to help create a task force on policing.

  • How can Elgin fight systemic racism and bias?

Elgin needs to promote more Latinos and African-Americans into manager and leadership roles within the city. The city when hiring needs to diversify their pool of applicants.

  • Do you believe the Council should set the vision for Elgin and provide direction to the City Manager and Staff, or do you want the City Manager and Staff to identify the issues and ask the Council for approval?

I think the Council, Manager, and City Staff need to work together to help push the city forward. I don’t think the council should do it alone and vise-versa. The more people and stakeholders we have sitting at the table brainstorming ideas then better we can help the community and city move forward.

Carol Rauschenberger

  • How would you address homelessness in Elgin?

 I think the city needs to lead the effort with the support of the numerous agencies including our own Elgin Police Department, PADS, Soup Kettle, Ecker Center, Cooperative Ministries, hospitals and various churches and county organizations.

I have come to understand that homelessness as a spectrum. The needs of those temporarily out of work can be vastly different from the chronically homeless.

I envision short term help for individuals and families as well as permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless. I have discussed the concept of providing a comprehensive solution for homelessness issues including a “low-threshold shelter” with various organizations including the new leadership at PADS.  The Elgin City Staff has stepped up to support this new strategic direction and is assisting PADS with the possible new locations. Several locations are being considered. But I also recognize much work has to be done to involve all organizations and to gain consensus on this direction.

Everywhere I have lived, homeless persons have been part of the community, from New York City to a small island in Greece. Our challenge is to understand them as fellow human beings and to treat them in a dignified way.

 

  • Would you support the establishment of a Department of Human Services in Elgin?

Yes, I support the concept.

  • How should Elgin respond to the Climate Emergency?

With the leadership from the Elgin Sustainability Commission, Elgin needs to develop a plan or “roadmap” on how to best measure and mitigate our citys impact on emissions and the environment in this climate emergency. Several steps have been taken with my support on council including an Emissions Audit and the hiring of a sustainabillity coordinator to manage the process.

  • How would you support Elgin’s downtown area?

Research says that successful cities are “intentional,” in other words, they have a clear vision and a plan on how they want to evolve. Elgin needs a strategic vision, and a plan to leverage its unique assets for attracting businesses and residents alike. That takes pro-active planning, leadership and community consensus. Many of us have ideas that we think will revive our downtown, myself included. But I think a strategic plan that accounts for the evolution of life after COVID (which has positive and negative trends) will be the best route for a successful recovery and growth of our downtown businesses. I believe the DNA might spearhead it, and involve the community. If that involves funding, I would support it.

  • Would you support a living wage ordinance for Elgin?

I support the State of Illinois statute for providing a living wage by 2025.

  • What would you do to increase the health and well-being of residents of Elgin? Is this within the purview of the council?

When I was first on Elgin City Council, I spent a good amount of time working with the Kane County Health Department as they were setting their goals and plans for the future.  I represented the concerns of Elgin.  The one thing I learned was that every decision we make affects the health and well-being of citizens. From placing stop signs, to replacing in our sewers, to determining the size of roads and sidewalks, all these decisions impact human health. The city should make every decision through the lens of public health and welfare.   At this particular moment in time, I suggest the city work more closely with the County Health Department to manage our response to the current and future pandemics.  In addition, I have been vocal about the need to support our citizens, specifically renters and landlords, that have been financially impacted due to COVID, and to earmark funds to support them.

  • Do you support a genuinely independent citizen oversight committee for Elgin’s police department?

I support a transparent citizen police oversight committee that makes recommendations specific to citizen complaints.

  • How can Elgin fight systemic racism and bias?

Elgin continues to take steps in that direction. The city is hiring a staff member for Diversity and Inclusion reporting to the City Manager.  In addition, we have hired a firm to do city-wide diversity and inclusion training.  However, training is not a one-time effort and I look forward our new staff person managing on-going training.  I would like to see the Human Relations Commission, made up of citizens, be active in studying and forming future plans to fight systemic bias.

 

  • Do you believe the Council should set the vision for Elgin and provide direction to the City Manager and Staff, or do you want the City Manager and Staff to identify the issues and ask the Council for approval?

I believe that the system should work both ways.  However, I would suggest several changes for strengthening the Council ability to provide policy direction. 1) The council should schedule quarterly offsite (public) strategic planning meetings to discuss the city’s direction/policy ideas and to set priorities. 2) The council should give direction and support to our Citizen Commissions(Sustainability Commission, Planning Commission, Human Relations Commission etc), be more active in providing policy suggestions for council

 Dustin Good

1) How would you address homelessness in Elgin?

I would continue working with Housing First advocates in addition to soup kettle organizers, first responders, shelter operators, and most importantly those who are seeking assistance. Over the summer of 2020 a team of stakeholders were evaluating the feasibility of 600 S. State Street as the new home of a consolidated approach to serving our houseless population. What is most attractive about this particular location; it’s across the street from the Secretary of State building, the Illinois department of Human Services office is a few minutes walk to the south, and maybe most importantly, Elgin Community College is within walking distance. ECC not only offers college degrees, but it also has access to GED programs, language programs, job placement programs, certificate programs in various trades, a library, a fitness center, and an amazing population of students and staff. It is a community with decades of experience uplifting individuals in our city. During the Great Recession, when I lost my livelihood, when I had to sell my truck and various possessions to make rent, having ECC within walking distance is what saved me. We need to build a complete path for individuals. 

2) Would you support the establishment of a Department of

Human Services in Elgin?

I would strongly consider this. While serving on the Strategic Plan Advisory Committee from 2012-2017 I watched an effort to consolidate services to our most vulnerable fall through because various agencies couldn’t find a way to work together. Since that time, the issue has only grown. I live right next to the parking garage at Chicago and Spring Street and have witnessed firsthand the dynamics of this issue in our downtown. I know the failure of leadership to address this issue impacts our most vulnerable and the stakeholders of our downtown the most. The city’s approach to outsourcing human services was perhaps understandable at the time, but we now see the problems when various agencies are not coordinated and consistently working together towards creating logical pathways for our vulnerable. This is why I would spend significant amounts of time and energy to determine if Elgin needs to make this change. 

3) How should Elgin respond to the Climate Emergency?

As someone who started the Student Organization of Sustainability at Elgin Community College back in 2012, I am painfully aware of the issue coming our way due to the changing climate. Fortunately Elgin is in a geographically blessed area which will ultimately afford us more time than other regions around the world. I believe the most pertinent thing for Elgin to do is to acknowledge the issue, which it has by declaring it an emergency, and then build out a robust network for connecting our residents. Sometimes when people hear about climate change, they think of solar panels or electric vehicles, however the foundation of strong resilient communities lies with connected residents who trust each other. Before we can take on the big issues of the future we need to ensure our community has trust in leadership and are involved during these massive decisions. As I look to the coming decades I see the midwest becoming a destination for those seeking a more stable climate, and we need to be building the best version of Elgin so that we can capitalize and truly become a leader in this area.  

 

4) How would you support Elgin’s downtown area?


When I first began volunteering on the downtown neighborhood association board, I immediately took a leadership role on the Farmer Market committee because I cherish what these operations bring to a community. Beyond supporting local farmers and providing fresh healthy produce to our residents, they also serve as an incubator. For example we had a new vendor in year two of our new location, by year three they had grown their business, and now in year four they have since moved into a storefront in our downtown. I believe we need to take a similar approach for other types of companies, which is why I am so excited to see a new team working towards opening a coworking space in our downtown. As an entrepreneur myself I know how important it is to have a strong network, access to mentors, and of course, access to capital. I also believe we need a concerted campaign by all city leaders to reach out and encourage everyone to participate in the recovery of our city. At some point we need to move past asking, “what can my downtown do for me” and instead ask “what can I do for my downtown”. 

5) Would you support a living wage ordinance for Elgin?


At this point I think we all know the cost of living has rapidly outpaced the minimum wage. However I do appreciate the gaining popularity of Universal Basic Income (UBI). There are a variety of benefits a UBI would bring that minimum wage does not. 

First and foremost UBI doesn’t limit its benefits to people who are engaged in paid employment. A UBI would benefit people who do valuable unpaid labor, such as childcare and eldercare, as well as people who are employees.

Second, a UBI would not interfere with workers’ and employers’ freedom to set the terms and conditions of their labor. 

Third, a UBI would not tie people to their employers.

Fourth, policies that do not tie assistance to employment would not disproportionately burden employers.

Ultimately this may end up as an issue decided at higher levels of government, but I will always sit down with stakeholders to discuss their position on the issue. 

6) What would you do to increase the health and well-being of

residents of Elgin? Is this within the purview of the council?

What is needed now is for humans to reconnect with their local communities. Over the past decade we have seen the impacts of social media on our population, and what was once sold as a way for the world to connect has actually turned us against each other in many ways. I believe our path forward is to blend current technology with existing community structures as a means to bridge generational and ideological divides. We need to intentionally involve a new generation in civic organizations, neighborhood associations, and community organizations in order to build upon the work of those who came before us. If we do this right, we will have more community involvement, more community activities, more people meeting each other, more people trusting each other, and more people feeling a sense of belonging. Often people just need that sense of community before they can find ways to improve themselves. Personally I would like to see Elgin leverage its proximity to regional farmers and work towards becoming a fresh food hub in the Fox River Valley. Elgin Community College has a culinary program and a bunch of land….maybe we should partner with them and build an urban farm.   

7) Do you support a genuinely independent citizen oversight

committee for Elgin’s police department?

I do and I am happy Elgin has made proactive steps in this area. 

As a member of Elgin Police Department’s Community Advisory Board I look forward to equipping residents with valuable information as well as more opportunities for trust building between our police officers and our community. 

8) How can Elgin fight systemic racism and bias?

First the city should continue working to ensure all residents have an opportunity to provide feedback in decision making. There is a growing movement around human centered design within governmental bodies, which I’m happy to see our city workers embrace, however this approach needs to also extend to our other community organizations. We need to make sure those working second or third shift can also have a voice in decision making. We need to ensure our city departments, our committees, and our neighborhood groups are striving to build representative leadership. We need to ensure technology is being leveraged to provide information in various languages as well as for those who live with disabilities. We need to ensure the benefits of a growing Elgin are accessible to anyone in our community. We need to provide opportunities for the unusual suspects to invest in their community. 

9) Do you believe the Council should set the vision for Elgin and

provide direction to the City Manager and Staff, or do you

want the City Manager and Staff to identify the issues and

ask the Council for approval?

By design our elected members are supposed to provide counsel to our city manager, however I have witnessed situations where this power dynamic can flip. It is a common occurrence among part-time councils considering the fact that to actually do a good job in a city the size of Elgin, you need dedicated full-time representation. Since we don’t have that structure in Elgin I have seen moments where the council may not be informed enough to make the best decision, resulting in deferment to city management. In one off situations this isn’t bad, it’s why we pay handsomely for a City Manager, however this behavior over a long enough timeline leads to conservative bureaucratic leadership. Ultimately a healthy community has educated voters who exhibit high turn-out in local elections and elect a balanced council which provides data driven direction to a city manager. Specifically related to Elgin, we need vision and an identity. Over the past ten years we’ve had a “sit back and wait approach” meanwhile other communities set goals and activate their stakeholders towards a shared vision. We can no longer skate by on our geographic advantage, we need leaders who are fanatical about progress and accountability.

Richard Johnson

If you are elected to the Elgin City Council, How would you address these matters?

  1. How would you address homelessness in Elgin?
    I believe that the most important thing to do is to establish a housing first model of supporting our unsheltered population. We must have a place where our unsheltered can establish a residency and then work to support them with the help they need.  We must not assume to know what is best for these people, they must be housed first and then work with them to determine the best course of action to keep them housed.  
  2. Would you support the establishment of a Department of Human Services in Elgin?
    Yes I would. 
  3. How should Elgin respond to the Climate Emergency?
    There is no doubt that we are at crisis level with climate change. We must work to eliminate our dependency on fossil fuels and I believe that our city can be a model for cities across America by investing in clean energy to power our city buildings. We must look for opportunities to use wind, solar and the like to reduce our carbon footprint.  
  4. How would you support Elgin’s downtown area?
    Our downtown area is a draw to residents all over the Fox Valley. I will continue to support the arts, music, theater and businesses in our downtown area. I will ensure that we continue to offer grants and apply for grants from our federal government to receive more monetary support as well. However, we still have more work to do. We must ensure that city regulations are not in the way of starting or continuing business development downtown. We must also have adequate and affordable housing developments in our downtown to support our operations there. We must also explore tax benefits for small business and continue our support of small business with grant opportunities.  
  5. Would you support a living wage ordinance for Elgin?
    Yes I would. 
  6. What would you do to increase the health and well-being of residents of Elgin? Is this within the purview of the council?
    I do believe that this is in the purview of the council as the health and well-being of our residents must be of utmost importance to your elected officials. We must fight to get the necessary appropriations from the state of Illinois for our social services programs and ensure that they do not continue to cut our funding in the state budget.  
  7. Do you support a genuinely independent citizen oversight committee for Elgin’s police department?
    Yes I do. 
  8. How can Elgin fight systemic racism and bias?
    I believe that education is the first step in recognition of the systems that continue to foster inequitable treatment of racial and ethnic minorities. Then we must ensure that the policies of our city reflect our beliefs of anti-racism and demand actions from our council that are anti-racist. It is through policy change and action that we will really fight against racism and bias.  
  9. Do you believe the Council should set the vision for Elgin and provide direction to the City Manager and Staff, or do you want the City Manager and Staff to identify the issues and ask the Council for approval?

         As elected officials that represent the interests of our residents we

         must set the vision for Elgin and provide direction for the City

         Manager and Staff.  

Corey Dixon

 1) How would you address homelessness in Elgin?

                One of the largest and ever looming issues in our city concerns our homeless/houseless brothers and sisters. They are only a symptom of the root cause, which has been city leaderships unwillingness to help this situation. Since I’ve been on council, that has changed. Not just because of my advocacy from the dais, but because of the work that’s be done over the years by many other advocates and social service agencies. I have been advocating for a one-stop-shop shelter where our homeless/houseless community can have a place to live, receive daily meals, seek treatment if needed, be assisted with finding employment or educational opportunities and receive transitional assistance into a home of their own. Doing this isn’t just the right thing, it’s the best investment we’ll ever make in people and our city – this is how we address the issue. 

    2) Would you support the establishment of a Department of Human Services in Elgin? 

Yes

3) How should Elgin respond to the Climate Emergency?

               I voted in favor of the Resolution Declaring a Climate Emergency. Now our response at this point must be to actually implement the policies that are in the resolution.

4) How would you support Elgin’s downtown area?

        If re-elected, I will be supporting the downtown by proposing that we provide incentive packages to potential businesses who are contemplating moving into our downtown and to help keep businesses there as well. The old ideology of letting the problem fix itself is dead. Our current DNA Exec. Dir. and Board Members get this and understand that there’s no time like the present. We have had some major wins in recent years and months, despite the pandemic, and we have to build off of that success right now. We do that by giving DNA the tools required to do their job.

5) Would you Support a living wage ordinance for Elgin? 

Yes

6) What would you do to increase the health and well-being of residents of Elgin? Is this within the purview of the council?

        As an elected member of Elgin City Council, nearly every vote counts toward the health and well-being of city residents. The root of every vote is always about the well-being of residents and if it will make life better for them. I serve on Greater Elgin Family Center’s Board of Directors, which is a federally qualified healthcare center. Through this board I’m able to effect thousand of residents throughout the city by providing equitable and affordable health & dental care. Lastly, I do an annual healthcare and resource fair, where I provide access to free healthcare insurance options. 

7) Do you support a genuinely independent citizen oversight committee for Elgin’s police department? 

Yes

8) How can Elgin fight systemic racism and bias?

        First, we must make sure that residents of our city are being educated on what systemic racism and bias really is. We also need to make sure that our children inside our public school systems are being the taught the correct history, so that the racist issues that plague us aren’t repeated. Lastly, we can never stop talking about it, never stop protesting and always hold our elected leaders to the highest of standards on this issue. It won’t be overnight or anywhere near immediate, but with time we’ll get to where we need to be.

9) Do you believe the Council should set the vision for Elgin and provide direction to the City Manager and Staff, or do you want the City Manager and Staff to identify the issues and ask the Council for approval?

         Yes, I believe that Elgin City Council should set the vision for Elgin and provide direction to the City Manager and Staff. Doing the opposite goes completely against what we’re elected to do. Now, this doesn’t mean that the City Manager and Staff can’t ever identify issues and ask for city council’s approval, but this certainly shouldn’t always be the order. Elgin City Council is responsible for developing and executing the vision on the behalf of our residents. Passing this responsibility on to anyone is a dereliction of duty. 

 

What do you think? Comment here or online!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.