Christine A. Dettmann: 2021 candidate for West Chicago Council Ward 3
Christine A. Dettmann, who will face Yuritzi Angeles in the race for one 4-year term for West Chicago Council Ward 3 in the April 6, 2021, consolidated election, responds to questions from the Daily Herald.
In-person early voting with paper ballots begins Feb. 25 at DuPage County Fairgrounds Building 5, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. In-person early voting with touch-screen voting begins March 22 at locations throughout the county. Learn more at www.dupageco.org/earlyvoting/.
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City: West Chicago
Occupation: Deputy assessor, Winfield Township
Civic involvement: Currently serving on the plan commission and zoning board of appeals
Q: How do you view your role in confronting the pandemic: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state and federal authorities?
A: Following the guidelines set forth by our DuPage County Health Department as well as state and federal governments is critical. At a city level, this provides essential direction for implementing safety measures for our residents, as well as guidance on extending our suffering businesses some economic relief.
Q: Did your town continue to adequately serve its constituents during the disruptions caused by the pandemic? If so, please cite an example of how it successfully adjusted to providing services. If not, please cite a specific example of what could have been done better.
A: West Chicago used their existing website and social media platforms to effectively share important safety information while also conveying their availability during the pandemic. They followed shutdown protocols to the best of their ability, limiting staff interaction, and adapting to noncontact forms of communication where possible, including conducting city meetings via Zoom which are open to the public.
Q: In light of our experiences with COVID-19, what safeguards/guidelines should you put in place to address any future public health crises?
A: The lessons learned and the safeguards now in place due to the pandemic will certainly make West Chicago better prepared if confronted again. Going forward, I believe the city should conduct a formal annual review, preferably coordinated with first responders and health officials, to continue to fine-tune testing and vaccinations measures, inventory and update health and safety supplies, and coordinate the exchange of information during a crisis.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: Some cuts happened naturally out of public safety concerns, like halting events and festivals. During a health crisis, especially one that encourages working from home as well as a lot of fiscal uncertainty, I think cities would be wise to delay filling any vacant staff positions where possible.
Q: What do you see as the most important infrastructure project you must address? Why and how should it be paid for? Conversely, during these uncertain economic times, what infrastructure project can be put on the back burner?
A: West Chicago's strategic plan is getting underway at the most opportune time. Our small businesses have taken a terrible financial hit during the pandemic. Increasing vitality to our downtown area by attracting new business and more patrons is critical for the viability of our existing shop owners and restaurants. Ease of access and adequate parking will be some key issues to be addressed and should be paid for from the city's Capital Projects Fund. Prior to the pandemic, the city had competed a road and sidewalk construction project on Washington Street which was a great start. As a member of the plan commission and zoning board of appeals, I am excited to voice my input in this improvement of West Chicago.
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the stance your council has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A: West Chicago originally opted out of allowing the farming or sale of marijuana. At that time there was very little data to indicate whether or not a negative impact would be a result, so I can understand their decision was one of caution. However, I believe this debate should come back to the table. Surrounding cities who did allow these enterprises have benefited financially, and I believe the legalization of marijuana is here to stay. At the very least, the city should reconsider these as viable businesses, now drawing from the experiences and statistics of these other communities.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: In encouraging new businesses into West Chicago, I would be happy to see the city support and welcome an adult day care to our area. These companies provide our at-risk elderly citizens with a safe place to socialize and give respite to family member caregivers.