Julianna Lopez de Philbrook: 2021 candidate for Park Ridge City Council, 2nd Ward
Second Ward; two candidates -- one seat
Hometown: Park Ridge
Employer: Self employed
Civic involvement: This is the first public office I have run for, but I have always voted in most local, state and national elections.
Q. What is the primary reason you're running for office? What is the most important issue?
A. I am running for the future of our city; to maintain our quaint, small town character, prepare our community for the future and continue to welcome new residents. To me, the most pressing issue is the ongoing response to the pandemic as well as preparing our residents and community for the future. We need to address the flooding that plagues the Second Ward since water runoff caused by increasingly strong weather events will most certainly increase in the future. We need to continue the Sewer Lining Project to stay on track with the renewal schedule, but also implement other recommendations from the studies commissioned that are equally important.
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. My role as a local leader confronting the pandemic needs to be a combination of listening to my constituents, the scientists and health officials and both state and federal leadership. At times, unpopular but necessary positions will need to be taken, as with any leadership position, but always my forefront responsibility will be to achieve the best possible outcome for the majority of Park Ridge and our residents.
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. I feel Park Ridge did a fine job of addressing many of the disruptions to life and commerce brought on by our communities safely navigating COVID-19. Most notably, I was very proud of our town working with residents on local water bills to assist with those in financial distress.
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. Clearly, learning from this experience will put us in a much better space to face this type of global health crises. But, additionally, we can use this experience to help build our response plan to many different types of crises we may face in the future. We need to have a more robust stockpile of PPE and supplies whose high demand immediately caused scarcity. We need to ensure that our community has infrastructure and a plan in place to quickly and efficiently distribute needed supplies.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. Instead of cuts, I believe the more responsible question is how can we better allocate our funding. In this time of unprecedented struggle, our community should be discussing ways to better take care of each other and help those residents and businesses hit hardest.
Q. What do you see as the most important infrastructure project? 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. The most pressing infrastructure need for our city relates to how we address the flooding issues in Park Ridge. To that end we need to focus on the Sewer Lining, Dempster Storm Sewer Construction, and the Marvin Parkway Underground Sewer Storage projects. Briefly, these projects will improve the life span and functionality of our city sewers, lower overall operation and maintenance costs, allow for future flood prevention projects, and alleviate the severe runoff issues caused by rainfall events. From what I gather, the funding for them is currently accounted for in the Sewer Fund, and the Marvin Parkway project has an additional grant provided by the MWRD. In my opinion, the project that is the least pressing is the City Hall Workspace Remodel. While these facilities are outdated and need to be updated, in these difficult economic times where our city funds will be stretched thin, the allocated funding for such an update could be put to better use.
Q. Do you agree or disagree with the stance your municipality has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A. My community recently had a referendum where the majority of our residents agreed that recreational marijuana sales should be considered again. As such, the city council has begun discussions to reconsider the best way to introduce these types of businesses to Park Ridge. I support this move by the city to listen to our residents and I look forward to helping finalize a plan once I am on council.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. We should follow in the steps of Chicago, Oak Park, and Evanston and implement laws to curb their use, and an eventual ban of single use, disposable plastic products from our city. We could start with plastic straws and plastic bags and move on from there. Of course, the city would assist in the transition period to support our local businesses as they adapt, and in educating our population on the benefits and necessity of such an ordinance.