NORTHBROOK, IL — Ahead of the April 6 consolidated municipal elections, Northbrook Patch provided questionnaires to all candidates on the ballot. Six candidates are vying for three four-year trustee seats on the Northbrook Village Board on Election Day. They are incumbents Muriel J. Collison and Daniel H. Pepoon, and challengers Robert Burns, Joy Ebhomielen, Christopher
NORTHBROOK, IL — Ahead of the April 6 consolidated municipal elections, Northbrook Patch provided questionnaires to all candidates on the ballot.
Six candidates are vying for three four-year trustee seats on the Northbrook Village Board on Election Day. They are incumbents Muriel J. Collison and Daniel H. Pepoon, and challengers Robert Burns, Joy Ebhomielen, Christopher Lay and Ana Mendez McGuinnes. Current Trustee Kathryn L. Ciesla is running for Village President, leaving her seat up for grabs, with Sandra E. Frum set to retire. She will be challenged by Eugene Marks for president.
Ciesla, Collison, Ebhomielen and Pepoon have received the backing of the Northbrook Caucus of 2021. Burns, Lay, Marks and McGuinnes are being endorsed by United4Northbrook.
Northbrook Patch is publishing all responses submitted by candidates verbatim.
Age (as of Election Day)
Town/City of Residence
Village board or city council
Party Affiliation (if a partisan race)
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
MBA Finance; BSc Economics & Statistics
Finance professional with over 15 years experience that spans from commercial lending to corporate finance and strategy
Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office
Member – Community Relations Committee (4 years); Board Director – Hunger Resource Network; Board Chair – Solbi Foundation Hospital (family non-profit)
The single most pressing issue facing our (board, district, etc.) is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
The single most pressing issue in the near term issue is combating the Covid pandemic and its impact on our residents, schools and businesses. The Board made grants funds available, provided free masks and hand sanitizers early in the pandemic when these items were scarce. They also reached out to Cook County to offer proposed locations for the vaccination roll out. If elected, we will continue to work with the Chamber and local businesses to brainstorm ideas and programs that will help with the post COVID recovery. Another main priority will be ongoing improvements to the downtown business district.
Do you support Black Lives Matter and what are your thoughts on the demonstrations held since the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake?
I support equality and fairness no matter your race. Martin Luther King said it best “I look forward to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character”. As an African American the death of these two men and others before and after them has really cut deep. With a young teenage son that is now driving, it is really very personal. I was very impressed with the demonstrations of support here in Northbrook. I attended the March and listened to the speeches over the summer and this was one of the touch points that spurred me to run for Trustee. I too wanted to make more of a difference. I was so proud to be Northbrook Strong.
Do you think the current board has done enough to support racial equality, and if not, what specifically should be done to do so?
In all honesty no one individual and no board anywhere in the world can claim that until racial inequities are non existent. So the road will be long and hard with successes and set backs along the way. However, I will say that the board is focused on improving diversity and inclusion through training, supporting organization like RAIN and other strategies to move us in the right direction.
What are your thoughts on the national and local coronavirus response? Do you favor measures such as limiting operation of non-essential businesses and restricting indoor/outdoor dining? And do you favor a local mask mandate?
Unfortunately, this pandemic has been the most devastating experience in our life time. The global impact is enormous. I come from a family of medical professional and I respect the science. I believe our Governor Pritzker is putting the right emphasis on safety and reducing the spread. I believe the science that masks and frequent washing of hands are our greatest and cheapest source of protection. During the early months masks and sanitizers were so scarce, could not be found at any store. The board went to work and was able to source these items and distributed them to residents over a two day event at the Grainger site and Northbrook Court parking lot.
What are your thoughts on the state and local coronavirus vaccine distribution, and how do you think local governments should work together to handle vaccine rollout?
I believe this is a top priority for every state and local government. There is now more public scrutiny on vaccine distribution and roll-out. We all need to stay involved to make sure that the pressure is not let up until all that need to be vaccinated have had their “shot in arms”. The vaccination roll-out for us here in Northbrook is managed by Cook County. Trustee Kathryn Ciesla, currently running for Board President, reported that they have already reached out to Cook County with potential roll-out locations that can be used here in Northbrook. We are all invested in getting this pandemic behind us and vaccinations are our way out. Until then masking, social distancing and hand washing are our only weapons against this terrible virus.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I am proud to say that all the candidates on the Northbrook Caucus slate are ‘trusted, proven and endorsed’. This is not just a slogan to us. What does this really mean.? We bring a combined total of over 17 years of Board experience, have maintained a AAA Bond Rating for 12 years, served on all Commissions over 19 years, have been deeply involved within the community and have brought up and are still bringing up our children here. Personally, I will be new to the Board but I am proud to be with this slate of dedicated professionals. I may be new to the Board but not a stranger to the world of community activism. I am confident that my finance background will be a critical advantage as we analyze new development projects that will benefit the community. Also, as an immigrant, I believe I will be in a unique position to provide a fresh perspective that will benefit our diverse residents and businesses.
If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency)
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform
Our campaign platform involves, first and foremost fiscal leadership, maintaining our revenue source and keeping our AAA Bond Rating. Other major priorities in the near term is working to help our businesses and residents recover from the impact of the pandemic. Longer term priorities include implementing any of the sustainability programs that will arise from a commissioned Study on sustainability expected in mid-April. We will also place a renewed focus on affordable housing which has been shown to have a very positive impact on diversity and inclusion, allows more employees of Northbrook, seniors and youths afford a home in the Village.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
With my MBA in finance and having worked for many years both in commercial business banking and in corporate finance and strategy, I’ve had many instances of advising small businesses on approaches to increasing revenue, improving margins, obtaining local permits, regulation impact analysis, advising on financing requirements and generally understanding the challenges small and medium sized businesses face. I am also an active part of the resident community. I have been here for over 16 years and my children are growing up in the community. I have volunteered for four years with the Community Relations Commission, I have worked with the Northfield Pantry and support our District 27 and 225 PTA. I will be the eyes and ears of the residents. I believe that these skills and experiences easily translate to doing the work of serving the residents and the business community in Northbrook.
If you win this position, what accomplishment would make your term in office as a success?
My term would be considered a success if 1.) by the end our businesses and residents have fully recovered from the ravages of this pandemic, 2.) if the sustainability priorities are actively being implemented and the affordable housing initiatives becomes a reality. 3.)if strategies have been implemented that drew more residents and businesses into our downtown area.
Why should voters trust you?
I am a fellow voter with very strong ties to the community. I have lived here for over 16 years and I am proud to bring my children up in this community. I am transparent and speak from the heart. I am running for the Board because I truly feel I can make a difference. I was brought up with the notion that giving is so much more rewarding than receiving. I am making myself available to listen, learn and support our residents. This slate is ‘trusted, proven, endorsed’, this is not just a slogan. To get to this point in the campaign, we have been vetted and endorsed at the Caucus level and then vetted and voted on by over 700 residents of Northbrook, I honestly do not think our opponents went through this same rigorous process.
What are your views on fiscal policy, government spending and the use of taxpayer dollars in the office you are seeking?
Our fiduciary duty to the Village is a top priority. Maintaining our AAA bond rating should be one of our primary responsibilities and we in this slate all agree on this point. Taxpayer dollars should not be wasted, government spending should not be frivolous. I am confident this is one area that I will be a solid asset to the group. My background in finance will be critical as we review development projects to determine their feasibility and benefit to the community as a whole (residents and businesses).
Is there any reason you would not serve your full term of office, other than those of health or family?
No. I intend to serve out my full term if elected.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
I am not sure I have ‘the best’ advice as I have been given so many great words of wisdom in my life time. High up there though is the belief that my parents instilled in me that no one is better than me and I am not better than others. They instilled in us at a very young age that we should not limit ourselves to the boundaries others impose on us but that we could be and do anything we set our hearts on. Not earth shattering as I am sure other parents have given such advice, but once this is built into your psyche and reinforced it really helps you deal with the successes and failures of life.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I want voters to know that I am doing this from the heart with no preconceived agenda. I will be an independent thinker who will listen to both residents and businesses to help them succeed and to help them live a healthy and fulfilling life here in Northbrook.