Daily Herald Candidate Questions - Keith Giagnorio for Lombard Village President
DAILY HERALD CANDIDATE QUESTIONS
KEITH GIAGNORIO – FOR LOMBARD VILLAGE PRESIDENT
Occupation: Owner, Gianorios Pizza & Pasta
Employer: Gianorio’s Pizza & Pasta
Education: B.A. Sociology/Psychology Elmhurst University
Civic involvement: Current Lombard Village President since 2013, past village board member and park district commissioner.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain. NO
Are you related to any other office holders or to anyone who works for the unit of government you hope to serve? NO
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?
One needs to lead by example and ensure that fellow board members and village staff are doing the right things as well. The village has taken proactive steps from the onset to keep employees safe while ensuring key village services are maintained. We have kept full transparency by televising/streaming village meetings and making sure agenda/minutes are updated on a timely basis. The role of village president continues to be one to interact with department heads and the board to make sure lines of communication are open and that any challenges are proactively being handled. I also routinely ask residents to adhere to mask guideline.
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.
The village took proactive steps at the onset to make sure village services continued to be offered in a safe and convenient manner. Lombard is fortunate that we had taken steps pre-Covid to embrace an online permitting system and enhanced online water billing/usage tracking and had a robust website in place that allowed businesses and residents alike to communicate with the village and find answers to common issues.Village Public meetings continued via Zoom and in-person when allowed and continue to be televised on the public access channel as well as streamed (and archived) on the village website.
In light of our experiences with COVID-19, what safeguards/guidelines should you put in place to address any future public health crises?
Communication is always key and the village needs to ensure they have ways to reach out to residents in a timely manner. Between the village website, newsletters, social media outreach, message boards, and local access TV broadcasts the village has always strived to keep residents up to date and how they can contact needed resources. The village continues to learn day by day during this public health crisis and think that interaction with county, state, and federal health officials is critical to make sure right steps are being taken and that correct information is being shared with residents.
What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers? Cuts in services or staffing can be difficult at any time regardless of the pandemic. Lombard has taken many proactive steps to meet local funding challenges brought on not only by the pandemic but also significant shifts in sales tax revenue due to changing shopper habits and closure of past sales tax leaders like Carson’s and other retailers. Lombard’s finance committee and staff constantly review expenditures and look for ways to reduce costs while not greatly impacting key services the village provides like public works and fire and police.
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?
Flooding has been a problem in the northern parts of the village these past years. It almost seems like these “100 year rain events” come more and more frequently and steps need to be taken to alleviate the damage they can incur on our community. While proactive steps have been taken over the past many years the aging sewer and stormwater infrastructure is often pushed to the limit. Lombard is striving to address this with the recent acquisition of the Sid Harvey property on North Main Street where residents will soon see the structure removed and the site improved as a stormwater retention and recreation area. Lombard’s strategic acquisition of this property will provide for more open space rather than more residential development. Lombard is always striving for state and federal grants for street light enhancements and additions throughout the village. We have seen many street lights upgraded in the past few years to more energy efficient LED bulbs through these energy conservation programs and can hopefully see that continue as those type of funds become available. While street lights are important and provide for safety and security the village certainly does not have the financial abilities at present time to fund an aggressive street light expansion program unless significant state/federal grants come to fruition.
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?
Lombard took steps in 2020 to allow recreational marijuana sales in the village and we will see our first dispensary opening in the coming months along the Butterfield Road corridor. I welcome this addition to our robust and ever evolving business community that will bring consumers to our area while generating needed sales tax revenue. The proper restrictions and safeguards are in place to ensure sales are done properly while following strict state-mandated guidelines. There is no need to change this and going forward the market will decide if this is indeed a good or indifferent addition to our community. The state law changed and Lombard responded to take advantage of the opportunity….for there is nothing to stop Lombardians from going elsewhere if they opt to indulge so why not allow them to purchase locally.
What’s one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
I want nothing more than seeing an engaged community with strong voter turnout and regular public participation and input at village board, plan commission, and committee meetings as we strive to work together to move Lombard forward. While a wish list of “if only money were no object” projects or plans for betterment of the community would make for some great discussion it is important for residents to realize all that is going on right now even during these times of economic uncertainty. Lombard has seen its property valuations grow nearly 30 percent since 2013 to todays $1.664 billion. New construction, renovation, and redevelopment has kept Lombard on an upward trend and will continue far beyond 2021. We will soon see activity at 101 S. Main with the Lilac Station mixed use development as well as progress being made towards significant redevelopment of the long tax-exempt seminary property with new entertainment, dining, and shopping options and more. The Yorktown area will continue to see new as well as creative redevelopment in the coming year as well as many new projects on deck along the Roosevelt Road and North Avenue corridors.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
My goal for 2021 and beyond is to lead us into the future by appreciating and respecting our past, improving the present, and planning for our even brighter tomorrow. This past year has taught us all many life lessons. Ones trust in government has been tested many times and yet Lombardians continue to persevere and we move forward together. On top of navigating through the global pandemic Lombard has faced a tornado, record flooding, and near constant economic uncertainty. Despite these challenges Lombard has risen above it and we are stronger as a community. As a small business owner as well as village president I interact day in and day out with residents, village staff, fellow business owners, other local/state officials and more and truly have my hand on the pulse of the community and what is best to truly move Lombard forward. With your continued trust and support we can continue to work together in my third term. Your voice will be heard, our community goals will be achieved, and our dreams can become a reality.