Scott Weller: 2021 candidate for Wheaton City Council, South District
Occupation: Commercial Banker at CIBM Bank
Civic involvement: Wheaton Planning and Zoning Board, over 10 years
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: It's important to be patient and empathetic in these times. Life was flipped upside down about a year ago and for the first time, to me at least, it feels like we might be closer to the finish line than the starting point. To that end I'd encourage people to follow the recommended guidelines which will hopefully yield a return to normalcy as vaccines rollouts continue over the next few months.
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 believe our town and our community did an excellent job in adjusting and minimizing service issues related to the pandemic. The most notable success was the closing of Hale Street to create a wonderful outdoor dining experience. This was wildly popular and an idea I believe deserves consideration to making more permanent during the summer months. Additionally the French Market was able to reopen with new protocols and City Hall saw very little service disruptions. I was impressed by how quickly the community adjusted.
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 suppose that depends on the type of public health crisis that occurred. I don't think it is realistic to expect or plan for every possible circumstance but pandemic scenarios will and should be a larger factor in disaster plan preparation.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: The City quickly reviewed its budget upon realization of a likely negative financial impact due to COVID19, watching expenditures is surely important. It's also important to grow the tax base through appropriate and measured economic development.
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: I'm excited to see the upcoming completion of the phased downtown "Streetscape" project which will ease traffic and accessibility downtown. I want to keep Wheaton regarded as a top tier community and infrastructure is a critical component to that designation. Currently most infrastructure projects are budgeted for annually through capital improvement plans and I support that. Flooding is always a concern and I'd support ongoing work to decrease flooding in the area.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: I think it is important for the business owners and their customers to consider the health and safety of the community when conducting business and from what I have seen the businesses in town have acted appropriately.
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the stance your board/council has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A: I think the Council has taken an appropriate pragmatic position. It's a new use to the community and as such it makes sense to evaluate how it has impacted other communities. I think it makes sense to review those findings periodically.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I want to help make the City easier to work with, I'd like to make it more engaging. Often times people don't interact with the City on a regular basis and it can be intimidating. This causes people to avoid getting an appropriate permit, not know where to Park or understand when garbage day is. I'd like to work with staff on a series of videos to be posted on the various City platforms that show how to find answers to questions or concerns. In general, I want make City government easier for the people it's working to serve.