Nektarios 'Nick' Arvanitis: 2021 candidate for Elmhurst 3rd Ward Alderman
In the April 6, 2021, consolidated election, Nektarios "Nick" Arvanitis, Christopher Jensen and Alan Quarrie are vying for a four-year term as Elmhurst 3rd Ward Alderman. The Daily Herald asked the candidates several questions about issues facing the city.
Below are Arvanitis' responses.
In-person early voting with paper ballots is available 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.
Occupation: Sales, Patterson Companies
Civic involvement: None given
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: I believe local government should provide leadership for the City of Elmhurst, taking state and federal guidance into consideration while advocating for residents and local businesses. My role as alderman is to work to make sure the city continues all essential services while accessing the vaccine, government grants, PPE, and all COVID-related functions for our community. This should remain a top priority for our local officials throughout the pandemic.
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'm supportive of the way the City of Elmhurst handled the pandemic and I feel fortunate to live in a community that has done its best to limit the negative impact on its residents. Adjustments were made to the budget to ensure essential services would remain while pandemic-related measures were supported. Also, when city officials were made aware of the "stay at home" order, they moved swiftly to work with local businesses to devise a plan and assist in their survival during the pandemic. Actions taken like refunding liquor license fees, eliminating red tape to allow for these businesses to expand carryout capabilities and overall services were a much-needed lifeline and Elmhurst did a great job supporting these efforts. Federal funds via the CARES ACT were made available and the City of Elmhurst worked to procure $2.4 million through DuPage County. Dedicating a part of the city website to COVID and providing a constant flow of information via social media and other efforts encouraged residents to keep safe and informed.
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: I feel positive that we are headed in the right direction in getting back to pre-pandemic life. This is an important time where city officials should take this opportunity to conduct a thorough analysis of what we've learned during the pandemic. The city can then take the lessons learned and create an action plan, building protocols for implementation by local government, businesses, community leaders, and health care providers if needed again in the future. Access to information can always be improved, so as a part of this plan, it is essential for us to focus on communication with state and federal government entities so city leadership is prepared to make timely and well-informed decisions. This will also allow for a free flow of information and resources to Elmhurst residents.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: The City of Elmhurst, fortunately, didn't experience the 90% loss in sales tax revenue they anticipated, but the losses were significant and have presented a challenge that will take strong leadership and creativity to overcome. The entire $120-140 million budget will need to be reviewed and revised. It's likely the city will have to create more manageable timelines related to large capital projects in order to maintain a high level of services and safety for our residents. Also, if federal stimulus/relief is made available, Elmhurst should continue to work to secure access to those funds.
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: A bold approach is likely to continue regarding water mitigation. Flooding has a negative impact on individual homes as well as the property values of the entire community. Someone's home is typically their largest investment and asset so it's vital we work to figure out how to offer homeowners reprieve in this area.
I would support consideration to scale back on street paving, potentially cutting the budget in half. The city streets can remain safe while saving millions in the short term and create more funding to minimize our flooding issues. Capital projects like streets, sidewalks, and bridges are eligible for partial funding through state and federal grant programs. Lobbying ambitiously for these grants should be a high priority.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: I intend to be a voice for our residents and small businesses if state regulations are issued. Upon consulting with state officials, the City of Elmhurst should thoughtfully design a plan to ensure local businesses will have every opportunity to stay open, serving the community while keeping everyone safe. Working to meet the unique needs of our residents is a priority and the failure of local businesses negatively impacts the quality of life of residents and can have a long-term negative impact on city services.
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: I'm committed to being impartial in evaluating all city proposals, contributing to an open, equitable process for all. I have no issues with the state's decision to make recreational marijuana legal thus creating a number of new jobs, businesses, and tax revenues in the process. The Elmhurst City Council had the opportunity to review allowing marijuana sales in our community in the past few years and voted 14-0 against. This decision was a direct reflection of what the community wanted. As Alderman, I will take all revenue opportunities seriously and will work to support the needs of our residents therefore I agree with the Elmhurst City Council's decision.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: A benefit of living in a great community like Elmhurst is there are a lot of businesses that know our city and explore establishing themselves here. In the same way, there are many large and small retailers, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs that don't know Elmhurst or what our community offers. I think we would benefit tremendously by forming a business recruitment team or task force that would function as an extension of the Elmhurst Economic Development Committee. The purpose and only focus would be to actively search for entrepreneurs and businesses to come to Elmhurst. Market analysis data can be utilized by the city to identify specific industry trends that increase the likelihood of success and also assist in convincing appealing businesses that Elmhurst is a profitable place for them to invest. With our proximity to Chicago, major highways, vibrant downtown, warm business climate along established financial incentives in place, our city has a lot to offer. Besides creating more local jobs and attracting new residents, the increase in real estate and sales tax revenues would ease the tax burden on our residents.