Robert O’Connell

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?

Given that River Forest is a landlocked community, I feel that my experience in the commercial real estate industry will benefit the community in planning and executing development of the few commercially viable parcels.

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 believe that Village and the Board does have a responsibility to communicate with the residents. In our Village I feel that the administration does a great job of communicating with its residents including a monthly newsletter, community alerts that are sent out via text messaging when issues arise and a schedule of its boards and commissions and social media including a Facebook page.

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)?

This is a difficult question to answer in that I do not believe that I have gone out of my way to understand a specific group but have attempted to understand the needs of all of our residents.

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 think the Federal Government has clearly laid out laws relating to accessibility. I think the Village should make sure that all of the Village owned/ operated facilities are in compliance with these laws. As it relates to future development, the Village staff needs to insure the laws are complied with to the fullest extent.

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

While I favor an increase in affordable housing, we must all recognize that as a landlocked community, there is currently no place for River Forest to add affordable housing. The TIF districts do provide an opportunity for expanded affordable housing, but we also must acknowledge that mandating affordable housing in those developments come at a cost in terms of zoning variances or in increased public subsidies of the developments.

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

I think additional striping of crosswalks, and bike lanes would be beneficial and finally increased traffic patrols and speed monitoring from our police department.

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?

The key to proper representation of residence is to ensure that any resident can reach out to our elected officials. I think that those avenues are available in River Forest but of course means of communications can always be improved. It is also important that trustees and the village president actively reach out to the residents for their input.

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

I do not believe that the Village goes out to raise revenues for any other reason than to fulfill its mission of providing services to the community and making sure that there is a reasonable rainy day fund in the bank to insure that if there is a need to borrow money, it can be done at the lowest available rate.

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?

I believe adopting recommendations of the sustainability commission is a good start for a small community. Simple things like recycling, not using toxic chemicals on our lawns and composting have an impact on our environment which directly effects climate change.

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

I have no financial contributors to my campaign.

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[The above answers were supplied on 2/14/19. 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.]