Michael Gibbs

candidate for 2019 River Forest VILLAGE TRUSTEE

1. What motivates you to seek this office? What skills, experiences, and perspectives would you bring to the Board of Trustees, and why would those contributions be valuable to the Village of River Forest?

My motivation is very simple, I believe that the citizens have a duty to participate in their government to enhance the lives of our neighbors and community.

I am the only incumbent seeking reelection.  I have lived in Oak Park and River Forest my entire life. Those life experiences, institutional knowledge of village operations and historical observations provide the village board with the perspective of how River Forest has gotten to our current place in time.  I am the only board member or candidate that works in the world of construction and customer service, two major aspects of responsibilities of the village board.  Infrastructure and community relations are a constant project at village hall.  The village board has the duty to provide all the fine services we are accustomed to while only controlling 11.7% of the property taxes paid to the county.

I am proud of the level of service our Police, Fire,Public Works and Village Administration provide to our residents.  Our tax dollars represent and excellent return on investment, and I challenge anyone to prove otherwise.

2. What steps will you take to improve and expand community engagement with the Village and the Board? What is your view on how local elected officials should communicate with and respond to constituents?

I will continue to encourage technological improvements to our communication process. No contact with a village board member should go unanswered. My phone number is listed. I have always been available to speak with anyone that would like to share a concern, question or comment with me.  I have been elected to serve the residents of River Forest. If you are not prepared to be available to the citizens, you should not seek the position.

3. In what ways have you sought to better know and understand the concerns and needs of residents outside your demographic group (specifically the demographic groups of race, religion, ability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status)?

I do not put people in categories. I don't see people in that way.  With regard to my performance as Village Trustee, I see everyone as a citizen of my village and will do my best to represent them and assist them in their quest to improve their lives by improving the village in which they have chosen to live.

4. What is your position on the extent to which the Village should include accessibility features, both for existing structures (e.g. , Metra, sidewalks) and future developments?

I have worked in the elevator industry for thirty five years. I am a nationally certified and state licensed elevator inspector.  I deal with accessibility issues every day. I have shared my knowledge of the accessibility codes with the village board on many occasions. To this day I do not understand why the elevator in the Depot building is only reachable up steps and closed to the public when the Park District is closed. This is a fine example of an accessibility failure.  My position is clear.  The American's with Disabilities Act is an established standard that must, not only be followed, but embraced.

5. What steps should the Village take to comply with the Illinois Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act?

Springfield passes many laws that effect the residents of River Forest in many ways. Municipalities must comply and conform to these requirements.  There is no room for interpretation.

6. Please list up to three steps that you would advocate the Village take to improve safety and mobility for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers?

  1. Complete the safe walking plan that is currently before the board.

  2. Continue to discuss and address the high congestion areas for share use of all transportation modes.

  3. The board will be discussing bike paths in the near future.

Safety is a prime concern for we with regard to these topics and ideas.  Pedestrians, bikes and cars can exist in shared space with proper planning.  A poorly conceived plan could lead to disaster.  It is the village board's challenge to produce this plan an present it to the community for consideration.

7. In what ways do you think the Village Board effectively represents River Forest residents? In what ways do you think the Village Board could improve in its representation of River Forest residents?

Municipal government is very basic. We elect our friends and our neighbors to keep our village safe, productive, prosperous and moving in the right direction. We do this by listening to our neighbors, business leaders and village staff and many other sources of information. We investigate the topics before us that concern the village and we do our best to make informed decisions. A candidate should serve the citizens needs, not their own. 

Can we improve? I can only speak for myself when I say that I endeavor to obtain the input from the residents on every possible concern that is before the board. Public comment at board meetings is vital as well as written and phoned messages.  I always tried to answer ever vote with the question, Is this in the  best interest of the entire village?The best way I or any board member can represent the residents is to listen.  Nobody ever learned anything by speaking.

8. How will you balance the need to raise revenue for the Village with other interests of the Village?

In nearly eight years as a Village Trustee I do not recall this situation coming up.  I will always rely on my answer in question 7.  Is this in the best interest of the entire village.

9. What impact can a municipality such as River Forest have on climate change, and how will you prioritize that work among other issues? Do you think River Forest should implement a Climate Action Plan, and if so, what specific elements should it include?

The River Forest board has established a sustainability commission to provide information when the board seeks additional input and expertise. I commend this group on their efforts to date. River Forest is ahead of the curve on environmental issues and I would encourage proper stewardship of our natural resources whenever a related  issue is before the board.

10. Please list the three largest donors to your campaign by dollar amount contributed.

I have received no contributions to my campaign. The only support I seek is in the form of a vote on April 2nd.

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[The above answers were supplied on 2/21/19. It may be possible to find more current financial information at the Illinois Sunshine website. Illinois Sunshine is also a useful resource for identifying past contributions by individuals to political candidates and committees in Illinois.]