I previously served as a Lisle Township Trustee and currently serve as the township's clerk. It is my belief that this experience will be beneficial in executing the administrative portion of the position. This experience has also afforded me the opportunity to work with the current providers of social services at the township and other levels. I am confident that the relationships we have built together will be
a valuable asset to the community. The township must continue to pivot which services it provides and how it provides them as the community attempts to recover from the pandemic.
My service on the Board has also taught me to work well with members of the other party. For the past several years the board has been comprised of members from both parties. All have collaborated well and found common ground to work together. When there has been potential conflicts we, as a group, have worked to find a compromise that serves our residents well. As township supervisor, I would continue to act in such a way.
In my professional career I have learned to get the job done with tight budgets and I have always found that collaboration with others is the best way to meet a challenge. We all understand that navigating competing agendas and, at times challenging personalities, is necessary to achieve the best outcome. As township supervisor, I will continue on the path of collaboration with the community and the township board to the benefit of it's residents.
As an active member of the community I understand many people in the township are in difficult straits even during "typical" times.
Lisle Township is responsible for many of the social services for its residents. We, as a community, have additional challenges to face as we work to recover from the pandemic . One of the greatest needs coming out of the isolation experienced during the pandemic will continue to be mental health. Last fall the township board commissioned a study on the mental health in Lisle Township. That study is due to be delivered to the board later this spring and I believe the results of the study will help us chart a professionally determined course.
In preparation for the delivery of this report I have reviewed the current duties and responsibilities of the township staff. One of our valued members of staff is going to be leaving us this year and I believe that this opportunity will allow us to pivot and bring on a professional with an additional skillset without additional cost to the taxpayer. I would look to the report I mentioned earlier as well as the direction of the board before identifying that precise skillset.
The township must also continue to engage the community so that it can service more of those in need. Many people in need do not seek help because of embarrassment or they simply don't know that services are available. The candidates who have agreed to run as trustee will be able to assist in this effort. They are experienced community volunteers, with skillsets that will ensure greater community engagement.
The Lisle Township Supervisor's office is already a well run office. In an earlier answer I mentioned that a long valued employee would be leaving this year. This change will allow us to shift some responsibilities to others thus freeing up time for this new hire to assist with residents in need.
The shift will allow us to change a role from administrative to a more resident facing position. It is my expectation that this new hire can assist the township in meeting the needs identified by the mental health study. While this would be my intent, we have not yet seen the results of the study to determine precisely the best course or skillset to pursue.
In February Trustee Signorella introduced the Idea of putting not only the township "checkbook" on line but also the financial performance against budget. I believe that this is a solid next step.
The second Item is already in process: The township is currently redesigning its website. I believe the new modern web design using an up to date mobile friendly platform will make a marked improvement. The new design will make the information already on the website easier to find. Part of this process should be to review the items most FOIA'd by residents and that information could be placed in a "Frequently Asked Questions" type of page so that the public could review them at any time.
One additional thought I have had is that since the beginning of the pandemic the meetings have been held via Zoom and posted to YouTube. I expect this practice to continue until it is safe for us to meet in person again. Once we meet in person again we should simply record the meetings then post them on YouTube moving forward.
This is complicated so I will address it in multiple parts.
The township food pantry operations have been greatly affected by the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic the food pantry was able to allow its patrons to select food much like most of us do when we go to the grocery store. Currently to promote safety pantry volunteers prepare boxes of food and when a resident in need comes to the pantry, a box of food is put in their trunk or in the back seat of the car. The pre COVID way is much better. It is our hope to resume this much more dignified method.
The Lisle Township Job Club which has been nationally recognized has also become virtual. The job club is not only important because it helps residents develop job seeking strategies, it also provides an emotional support group for residents in job transition. Once it is safe, I believe that resuming an in person job club is important for residents well being.
The pandemic has also left a great deal of residents unemployed and unable to pay their rents or mortgages. Currently there is a moratorium on evictions. Once this moratorium is lifted I expect that the number of residents who will be seeking the rent assistance to skyrocket. Our staff will be ready to address this need and we have adequate reserves to assist these residents.
As I stated above, I expect that the ongoing assessment of the mental health needs for the township which will be delivered in March will reveal other needs which we will need to quickly address. The proposed budget has funding set aside to begin to address the needs while the board, with considerable public input, determines mid and long term strategies to assist its residents further.
Educationally, I graduated with honors from Benet Academy. I skipped two years in college, graduated with a B.A. in History from Truman State University and an Associates in Applied Science. I also received certifications at a Spanish language school in Costa Rica for 3 months, at an Ashram in New York and as a Covid 19 contact tracer. I am 6 months into going back to online school for 2 more advanced degrees in data sciences and in public policy, which have been my academic hobbies for the last 30 years. I have spent the last 15 years as a small business owner to two companies, managing teams of caregivers or workers, caring for animals and additionally the last 4 years as a community organizer. Prior to then I had a variety of jobs from management at FedEx Ground, serving, bartending, substitute teaching and hotel auditing. I was one of the founding board members of the non partisan Coalition for a Better IL 6th District, founding leader of Indivisible DuPage, and the current Chair, former Vice Chair, of the Lisle Township Democratic Organization. I have been working with groups like the NAACP, the League and many others to help educate voters about a variety of issues and topics. I have a diverse academic and work history which enables me to see a community more holistically.
I have spent my career working in customer service. I specialize in silent service, where in my business is to anticipate clients' needs. I work with the Disney motto, it isn’t my fault but it is my responsibility. Could you imagine if this motto was applied to township governmental services? I have tirelessly walked in, rode my bike in almost every precinct in Lisle Township to talk to citizens about the political issues of the day for the last 4 years. If you want to bring ethical, caring, dedicated & responsive customer service to the township governmental level, I have spent my entire professional life doing that, because I fundamentally care about people.
The budget needs to put general assistance as the top priority with better service options for the community, especially for senior citizens and people facing tough times. That can be done by working with non profits, creating inter-governmental partnerships and reassessing the community's current needs. The next top two challenges of the township are two sides of the same issue which together would help every other issue if solved. We must actively seek to know what the community’s needs are and then actively meet them, within our jurisdiction especially in these challenging times.
After talking to voters in the majority of the precincts in Lisle Township most do not know about the potential services of the township, or that they even live in Lisle Twp. so there is a fundamental communication breakdown with the people that live here. We must fix that. IF the citizens of the township do not know about the great services that exist or could exist then how can the township adequately meet the changing needs when things change as happens? It really can’t. There are so many easy and inexpensive ways to educate people like actually updating and using the website in a timely manner. There could be more educational videos shared on social media. There are inexpensive other grassroots methods like fliers and mailers that can work too.
As a business owner I see a lot of options to save money and improve services and I expect to see a lot more with more transparency. First, volunteers need to be utilized more for senior services like setting up a Covid 19 vaccine tech buddy program or other programs that would build community. We could be using SHIP to help seniors sign up for Medicare. We could have a library of medical devices that could be borrowed for the short time they are needed. There are so many more options that need to be explored.
I think the Supervisor’s office is pretty opaque from the outside and needs to be improved. I think the Supervisor should have monthly written or video updates to the community that are easy to access. I think it should have a budget that does not require a FOIA, is on the website, and is easy to understand by the general community. I think the office needs to solicit the community more for input. I promise that if I am elected I would do all of that. I am an exceptionally thorough, hard working, analytical person that does what I say I will.
The pandemic has had a large impact in the still unknown needs of the community. Who knows if some of the short term challenges will really be long term, as Covid 19 will likely be here to stay like the flu? As a small business owner I understand the need to continuously readjust goals and budgets to fit the changing needs. The demand for food has doubled. Rental assistance requests have increased but who knows where the demand would be if the services were more well known by those in need of them. ComEd and Nicor are not turning off services for the time being. Mental healthcare issues which could be helped from a township perspective, have only been studied with no substantive actions taken to mitigate the increase in depression, suicide, and ongoing opioid epidemic. All of these issues have gotten worse for the people of Lisle Township in the pandemic.
There are so many options to mitigate these issues. With better communication options those in need and those able to give can be connected through the food pantry. After the study is publicized about mental healthcare in the township those elected could ask for a referendum at the next election, as opposed to what the current board did. It could not even get a second from any of the incumbents this past summer. I think another social worker should be hired to meet the community’s needs. I also think a community survey needs to be done to better understand what the community's needs are.