Government Affiars Committee Candidate Questionnaire

CANDIDATE: Ross Breckenridge

POSITION SOUGHT: Glen Carbon Trustee

Please provide us with some basic information. We already know your name and address. Please tell us about: a. Your family; b. How long you've lived in Glen Carbon; c. Your education; d. Your employment.
I met my wife, Courtney, while attending Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where I received my Bachelors of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Mass Communications. I've lived in the Metro East for over a decade and in Glen Carbon since 2009. Our daughter, Scarlett, turned two in March. I'm currently employed as the Administrative Manager at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Why are you seeking this office?
As a Glen Carbon Village Trustee, I take pride in helping my neighbors communicate with their elected officials to share ideas and get things done. I believe in a transparent, responsive local government that works for its citizens. Glen Carbon truly is one of “America’s best small towns” and I want to make sure it continues to thrive and flourish. Great schools, thriving businesses, and friendly neighbors – these things are the foundation of this Village. I am running for re-election because I am committed to making sure our community remains a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

What education, skills and experiences have prepared you to deal with the complex financial, technical and legal issues that regularly come before village board?
Over the last eight years, I have gained extensive financial and legal experience both on the Village Board and at IDOT. My responsibilities include administering an $81 million budget, the maintenance and procurement of a fleet of over 70 vehicles, as well as purchasing authority, and oversight of the general operations of State-owned facilities and equipment. I approach each of these activities with one primary goal: to ensure quality services are carried out across the District in an efficient and effective manner.

As a Village Trustee, I have worked directly with the Mayor, the Village Administrator, Public Works Coordinators and other Village employees to approve budgets and expenditures, mediate contracts, and address issues as they arise. Each of these positions has prepared me for the financial, technical and legal challenges we face on the Board; however, I also understand the value of expert counsel when an area requires special attention.

What, if anything, should the village of Glen Carbon do to retain, expand and attract ‘head of household’ jobs?
Over the past four years on the board I've voted for numerous proposals to generate smart and fair growth for the village. I've voted in favor for the new Enterprise Zone located on Route 157 and I've worked with village officials along with municipalities and other community leaders on the 1-55 / 270 Corridor plan. In addition to creating a business-friendly climate, we must continue to build upon Glen Carbon’s strengths such as quality schools and friendly neighborhoods, which then in turn helps make Glen Carbon an attractive place to live and work.

Please identify and prioritize the three most important ‘large capital’ projects in the Village of Glen Carbon. Please justify your prioritization. How do you propose to pay for these projects?
While on the board I have been a strong advocate for a major overhaul in our aging infrastructure in the village. I urged residents to contact the Village and elected officials on drainage issues, resulting in a new drainage study that identifies the cost of repairs and how to fix current and stop future drainage issues. Projects will be funded through the Capital Development Plan, but I believe we should look at a more aggressive approach to deal with these issues.

I also advocated for a street analysis study that looks at our aging infrastructure and identifies our street deficiencies. The major road project we need to push for funding is the reconstruction of Old Troy Road. As expansion comes ever closer to this area, we need to make sure our residents and guests have a safe road to travel.

Along with help from Madison County officials, I also helped push the village to enact the Complete Streets program. This program takes any future construction projects and identifies other ways we can make transportation more accessible be it by walking, biking, or running. Each project is different, but most projects are funded through matching grants. This strengthens Glen Carbon's identity as a small town community.

What are your thoughts on village finances? Are there opportunities to cut expenses? Specifically, where are those opportunities? Is there a need for new or additional revenue? Specifically, where would it come from? Are there areas where spending needs to be increased? Specifically, where does spending need to increase? Specifically, where would the money come from?
I'm glad to say the Village's finances look strong thanks to careful planning of expenses and investments. There are always ways to find to cut expenses, but you also don't want to compromise your community’s safety or infrastructure. Over the past years, the village has accumulated an emergency fund to operate the village for 8 months without revenue. We are lucky as a village to have this reserve. Having this reserve also helps up address major issues in the village. From the reserve we have created a Capital Development Fund to pay for some of these issues.

To reduce expenses, I have worked to eliminate board, committee, and commission packets to reduce paper waste. The process and hours it takes to put these documents together can be handled digitally and elongate the paper waste. This will immediately save the village tax payer money. I also advocated for an energy audit analysis to evaluate the village’s buildings and stations to offer cost cutting solutions with newer technology. This service comes to no cost to the taxpayer and saves the village money.

What do you believe is the role of a village board member in the village administrator form of government?
Having a Village Administrator helps trustees to communicate to one person to get answers for residents, rather having to make multiple calls. This over all make for a more effective responsive government body.

If you're the incumbent, what have been your significant accomplishments during your term? If you're the challenger, what do you believe have been the significant disappointments of the incumbents, and how would your term in office be different?
- Advocated for the completion of a village-wide drainage analysis resulting in the resolution of major drainage issues
- "Complete Streets", a comprehensive tool that takes pedestrian traffic in to account.
- Helped implement Glen Carbon's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Represented Glen Carbon on the I-270/I-55 Corridor planning committee
- Fought to bring relief to Glen Carbon Veterans
- Positive working relationship with Village staff and volunteers to communicate residents' priorities and accomplish goals

If elected, what would be your top three priorities?
The most crucial issues facing Glen Carbon are ensuring smart and fair growth and maintaining a high level of service to residents at the lowest possible cost. The Village will also be making some important infrastructure decisions in the near future – we must make certain that we carefully evaluate all investments and costs to make the best possible choices. Finally, I will continue to work with residents, the Board and Village staff to ensure that we balance short- and long-term needs, financial sustainability, and our community identity as we make these critical decisions.

At the end of your term in office, how will you know if you've been successful?
You always strive for success and never quit. There is always an issue to address and solve. As an elected official, communicating with residents and solving problems is always successful in my eyes.

Are there any changes you would like to see regarding: How village board functions? How committees function? How departments function?
As mentioned previously, I believe a shift to paperless Board and committee packets would be a cost- and labor-saving initiative requiring very little cost. Overall, I would like to increase the transparency and communication from the Village staff to the residents. The website and communication systems are currently strong, but we must continue to ensure we are finding the best, most efficient ways to communicate with residents.
Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce leadership know it is vital that chamber members exercise their right to vote. We also believe it is important that chamber members be informed voters, particularly when it comes to issues that directly affect the local business environment.

With that in mind, the chamber's government affairs committee (GAC) sent a questionnaire to candidates in both the Edwardsville and Glen Carbon spring 2015 municipal races.

CLICK HERE to download the letter and questionnaire that were sent to municipal candidates.

William Krause (Ward 5)
Art Risavy (Ward 7)
Janet Stack (Ward 3)
Barbara Jurgena-Stamer (Ward 1)

Ross Breckenridge
Douglas Dial
Luke Harris
Steven Slemer
Mary Ann Smith
Micah Summers