Voters have a choice between Aurora Alderman in Districts 4, 7 and 10 and the seat in the April 6 election. In the 4th division, the incumbent William Donnell faces John Bell. In the 7th division, the reigning Scheketa Hart-Burns is challenged by Saul Fultz. In the 10th division, Shweta Baid and Arjun Nair run to fill a vacancy. And Raymond Hull, Brooke Shanley and Ron Woerman are running around the open space. All have a 4-year term.
Age: 24 years
Civic Engagement: I have been a community activist for many years, participated in many political campaigns, and interned for Sen. Durbin in his Chicago office.
questions and answers
Q: How do you see your role in fighting the pandemic: taking leadership even if it’s unpopular, giving constituents a voice – including those you disagree with, or postponing state and federal authorities?
A: It is important to remind everyone that we are a community. Regardless of differences of opinion, we must look out for one another. Of course, no solution will make everyone happy, but we can try to protect everyone and ensure that people’s interests continue to be safeguarded.
Keeping people safe from the pandemic is my number one priority. However, it is still important to ensure that people’s livelihoods are intact and that the measures taken are not overly draconian. The city must help companies build a COVID-safe infrastructure so that they can stay open safely without endangering the public.
However, I also recognize the dangers of involving law enforcement agencies in how they can or cannot enforce regulations.
Q: Did your city continue to adequately serve its constituents during the disruption caused by the pandemic? If so, please provide an example of how it has successfully adjusted to service delivery. If not, please give a specific example of what could have been done better.
A: While the city was able to work with Hesed House to get some people off the streets into shelters, it should have done it sooner. In addition, money could have been used for temporary housing. Even under normal circumstances, no one should be on the street. The fact that it is happening now is despicable.
Q: Given our experience with COVID-19, what safeguards / guidelines should you put in place to address future public health crises?
A: The key is to build relationships with the county and state health departments and federal agencies so that the right methods can be understood for any number of crises. In addition, the city should have an inventory of PPE and the infrastructure to distribute this PPE when needed. This infrastructure should be available at the city level and at the level of the individual stations.
Q: What cuts can the local government make to ease the taxpayer burden from the pandemic?
A: The city of Aurora no longer needs to spend money providing TIFs on developments that are not designed to bring real benefit to people’s daily lives. Developers shouldn’t get handouts while people are suffering.
In addition, the desperation caused by the pandemic has led to an increase in crime. Instead of throwing more money into the police department, I would invest money to help people’s material conditions and prevent crime.
Q: What do you think is the most important infrastructure project to deal with? Why and how should it be paid for? Conversely, in these uncertain economic times, which infrastructure project can be pushed into the background?
A: The most important infrastructure project right now is to ensure that all of our roads are well maintained, regardless of which neighborhoods they serve. Other projects that I think are important to the city are municipal utilities and municipal fiber, as well as an ongoing focus on improving bicycle infrastructure.
Q: Are you planning to target companies that are not complying with the governor’s orders to close or restrict business?
A: Should the restrictions tighten again, I would love to work with business owners to ensure they can deploy a COVID-safe infrastructure. However, if a company refuses to meet the requirements, it is not eligible for CRFs.
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the stance your board / council has taken to allow recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about this attitude if you could?
A: I believe recreational cannabis can be sold in cities and that the funds from cannabis taxes should be spent directly on community improvement, particularly helping community members who have been wrongly prosecuted for cannabis use in youth welfare.
Q: What’s a good idea to improve the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: One idea that I have that has been discussed in several places but not in Aurora is participatory budgeting. I want people to be more direct about how their money is being spent, rather than just calling me and telling me if they are up for that spending or not.