BY MADELINE WILSON —
There are two seats on the village board up for election on April 5. There are three candidates for the two seats: Tammy Bockhorst, incumbent village trustee, Dillon Grimes and Allison Rozek.
Grimes moved to Shorewood 10 years ago with his wife, Suzanna. They have two daughters, a fifth grader at Lake Bluff and a ninth grader at the high school. Grimes works as the manager of a web development company. He is also heavily involved in the Shorewood Men’s Club, organizing events such as the Easter egg hunt and barbecue dinner. He is working to start a 5K run prior to the club’s barbecue dinner event.
Grimes decided to run for village trustee after receiving suggestions to run for office because of his involvement in the school board.
“My wife and I have been advocating at the school board for years now [about] a problem at Lake Bluff with classroom size … It was through my associations in advocating at the school board that kind of led to suggestions like, ‘Maybe you would be interested in running.’ I considered the school board as well. When they appointed Joanne, there were so many candidates that had a lot of really good educational experience and I didn’t. In terms of running an organization, that’s what I do for business. It felt like the village board is more in that realm,” Grimes said.
According to Grimes, he wants to bring a resident focused perspective to the village.
“The theme, resident focused, I picked up early on because we have spent so much energy on all of the development stuff and marketing,” Grimes said. “To me, these are totally peripheral to our core function which is to serve our residents.”
Grimes said that he wants to help manage rent costs for small businesses.
“Right now the big challenges that face us are high rents that make it difficult for small businesses to start here … Obviously we have a lot of empty store fronts,” Grimes said. “What I want to do differently is focus our effort on helping small businesses get started, do what we can do to keep the rents down.”
Tax incremental districts (TIDs) are incentives the village has in place for development. Grimes said the use of TIDs has gone away from their original purpose.
“I think [TIDs] have a specific purpose and we’ve taken that and used it in ways they weren’t intended to be used. What TIDs were initially for was to take a property that was undevelopable, so either a brown field, an environmental dump that we needed to do something about, … but we’ve decided, well, we can use them for a different purpose, which is to just give money away and if we give money away developers will want to build here,” Grimes said.
If elected, Grimes would like to close down TIDs.
“I am not a fan of the way that we’re putting all the tax burden on the residents,” Grimes said. “I hope that we can really close down the TIDs.”
Grimes would like to manage tax rates by cutting where he can, although he does not want to cut resident services.
“The taxes have increased year over year as well as water bills have increased the same way and it’s a big impact on people with fixed incomes and it’s also difficult for young people to be able to move into the village,” Grimes said. “In terms of what to do with taxes I think it is finding ways to stop spending. There are things we can cut. It’s on the periphery because obviously if we need to cut something, we don’t want to cut services to residents.”
With the impending reconstruction of Wilson Drive, Grimes does not support any development along its west side.
“Ultimately what I want to see is that we don’t set up a situation where we’re going to try to develop it,” Grimes said.
Grimes does not want development on Wilson Drive because it is part of the community’s limited green space.
“I think there’s great support in the community for keeping this a green, open space. We have so little of that in Shorewood. It’s remarkable if you look at a map of Shorewood, you see that there is really no green space. There’s the lawn around the schools and Wilson Drive,” Grimes said. “Building anything west of Wilson I think is a terrible idea.”
According to Grimes, the possibility of narrowing Wilson Drive has pros and cons.
“If we narrow it we do run the risk of taking the traffic and pushing it into the community more which is definitely not ideal,” Grimes said. “At the same time, I know I like to safely cross.”
To increase safety on Wilson Drive, one option Grimes is interested in is building boulevards.
“On the face of it, without having heard from these groups that are doing all the research, I think these boulevards sound like a pretty good plan overall because it allows us to slow down traffic a little bit but still makes the road open to people so it makes it easier to cross,” Grimes said.
It is important to Grimes that the board improves its communication with the community.
“The big thing that has bothered me for a few years and has helped get me into this is the interaction between the village and the residents,” Grimes said.
One example Grimes gives of how the village has not collaborated well with the community is the professionalization of their marketing efforts. Prior to this, Jan Zehren, SIS teacher, and Barb Caprile, resident, helped to organize marketing for the village.
“Just a few years ago the village decided to professionalize its marketing efforts. So instead of having [Jan Zehren] do her thing and Barb Caprile … Both of them were told to basically go away,” Grimes said. “To me, that is exceptionally poor form. Especially considering now we spend $80,000 a year for that service. We didn’t pay Jan anything. She did that out of the goodness of her heart. The same thing with Barb. She didn’t earn any money for what she was doing. But now we are paying all this money and I think we are getting less out of it.”
Although the school district and village have separate budgets, Grimes would like to see a better relationship between the school and village boards.
“I’d like to have more of a mentor relationship between [the village] and the school board members. A lot of them come from a more educational background and not so much how to run an organization background. A little bit of integration would help better manage the school budget,” Grimes said.
According to Grimes, he does not come into this with any specific goals he would like to achieve should he be elected as a village trustee.
“I don’t come into this with a huge agenda … I am not a politician. I am not coming into this with a personal goal of changing lots of things. The things that need to be adjusted are just little bits around the edges. I want to just identify things that need to be done and do them,” Grimes said.