Bryan Wirball: 2021 candidate for St. Charles City Council, Ward 4
City: St. Charles
Occupation: Technology specialist
Employer: I work for a large multinational technology company
Civic involvement: Commissioner, City of St. Charles Zoning Board of Appeals; Commissioner, City of St. Charles Natural Resources Commission; Board Member, St. Charles Education Foundation; Member, School District 303 Citizen Advisory Committee; Member and volunteer, St. Charles History Museum; Co-President, St. Charles Breakfast Rotary Club; Volunteer, It's Our Fox River Day Cleanup
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 in confronting the pandemic would be to continue to follow and support the established public health guidelines from the CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health to ensure the safety and health of our residents. I believe we can all play a role together in confronting the pandemic locally by following public health guidelines, and by collaborating with state and federal authorities. I also believe it is important for the city to continue to collaborate with the Kane County Health Department so that updated information is available to our residents on the City website.
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. Yes, I believe our City provided adequate service to our residents during the disruptions caused by the pandemic. I feel our city staff was able to adapt and navigate their way through safely and as best they could given these unprecedented times. All of our essential services continued such as electric, water, sewer, and street service. Our City snowplows have done an excellent job at keeping our streets clean. Our first responders have also done an excellent job providing their essential services to the community during the pandemic.
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 believe it is important for our city to maintain a collaborative partnership with the lead agencies in this matter: the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Kane County Health Department. This partnership will provide professional guidance to formulate a strategic response for any future public health crises. I also feel the City should continue to utilize and maintain technology that supports the ability to transition to remote work and meetings during a public health crisis.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. I support the City's initial $2.4 million budget cuts from June 2020. Additionally, I would defer the purchase of any new vehicles, heavy equipment, and postpone the filling of any nonessential positions as attrition occurs. The city should continue to reduce spending for training and nonessential travel. Moving forward, any additional cuts should be prioritized based on the impact the cut will have on city services and operation. That is to say, the least impactful cuts should be considered first. Any additional grants or other funding sources should also be explored in order to defer operational costs.
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 believe our aging water mains and sewer mains, along with our-undersized wastewater treatment plants and other well improvements are important infrastructure projects that need to be addressed. These improvements will address capacity and pressure issues, water quality, and support future economic growth in our community. These projects would also improve the quality of life for residents. I also believe we should at least partially fund infrastructure projects via the municipal cannabis tax revenue. I believe a brief suspension of the paving program could be implemented, if necessary, to assist by redirecting funds to more pressing infrastructure priorities.
One additional, proposed project that has been discussed, and I would definitely not support, would be any sale or redevelopment of the current city hall. Not only is the building iconic and integral to the culture of our community, the relocation cost of city offices, along with the required building of a new city structure would create an unnecessary burden on taxpayers totaling millions of dollars.
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 respect the decision made by the City Council. Looking back, another option could have been to consider a referendum on the issue like the one held in the City of Batavia. The result would then be honored as the will of the people. The question going forward is determining where to allocate the cannabis tax revenue -- I would like to see at least some of this revenue allocated toward important infrastructure improvements/upgrades that are needed throughout our community.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. I would support the creation of an Economic Development Commission. This Commission would serve as an advisory Board to our Economic and Community Development team as well as support the activities of the St. Charles Business Alliance. I envision members of this Commission to represent segments of our business community, specifically real estate, banking, retail, and hospitality, to name a few. The goal of the Commission will be to support business retention and attraction.