Name: Jim Cosler
Office Sought: Village Trustee
Education: Bachelor of Science Aviation Technology, Minor Business Management
Elected Offices held: Cary Village Trustee 2015-Present
Social Media: Facebook @CaryConnectionIL
1. What is your largest priority for Cary if elected?
My largest priority is to continue my efforts of addressing current and future budget problems, thus ensuring our town’s financial stability. Cary has seen its fourth straight year of decreasing revenues, while total expenditures for labor, benefits, police pension, and capital improvements keep increasing. Increasing costs coupled with reduced revenues has set up an unsustainable condition. In my term as a Trustee, I have worked together with other board members to trim over $1 million dollars in frivolous improvements and other expenditures, balancing the budget every year. Cary’s current situation requires Trustees who demonstrate spending restraint to ensure the town’s fund balances will not decrease from their current levels. On the other hand, we need to continue work on increasing revenue. Cary is lacking in sales tax revenue compared to its peers. An increase in sales tax revenue 10% year over year would enable a future balanced budget which still provides for modest capital improvements throughout our village. My goal is to keep expenditures in check while increasing revenues, this will ensure the viability of our town’s future.
2. What changes should Cary make in the future?
I believe there are many changes Cary can make which will be highly beneficial to our town and its residents. Though I have an extensive list, here are some priorities:
Adding public transportation for seniors and other village residents – McHenry County operates a ride program called MCRide, which offers an affordable transportation option for seniors, disabled, or any other resident who lacks a means to travel. This can be added with limited budget impact while offering a great service to our community.
Adding a person dedicated to economic development– This position would complement our existing staff and focus solely on business marketing. Hiring on a contractual basis with performance contingencies would allow this to occur with minimal expense.
Add activities/businesses for young adults and teens –It is important to address the current scarcity of entertainment and recreational activities geared towards young adults.
Increase cooperation with other Districts and Boards – Focus on intergovernmental cooperation to benefit the community overall. This is an important factor in the development of Maplewood and the future of Cary’s new park on the Meyer Material land.
3. How do you feel about Cary’s video gambling and any potential expansion into places such as gas stations?
I was not a member of the board when video gambling ushered into our village. Nonetheless, there has been an exponential increase of gaming requests in my four-year term. Cary will soon have ten gaming locations with a total of 48 machines. Considering the size of our town, we are approaching a ratio which it out of synch with the needs of the community. When focusing strictly on a gas station component, I have not heard of community support for the concept. If I address this question as it pertains to newer style gas stations, which are frequently attached to other restaurants or businesses, I would evaluate each request on its merits to the community at large. There is no question the $90,000 the village received in 2018 is significant. What remains to be seen is if the community supports more and more of these devices for a modest increase in revenues.
4. How do you feel about Cary’s recent and upcoming senior housing projects?
There is a large need for quality senior housing in Cary. As a trustee, I have always championed ideas for housing which add value to the community and helps seniors. In other areas of the country, they have proven “quality” housing does not necessarily mean expensive. The older population desires single floor living in a comfortable low maintenance home. My ideas for “pocket” style senior developments has garnered many positive comments from residents. A pocket neighborhood is a type of planned community which consists of a grouping of smaller residences. These types of developments often have a courtyard or common garden, designed to promote a close-knit sense of community and enable residents an increased level of contact with their neighbors.
As for my feelings toward the senior housing which is being developed behind the Jewel shopping plaza, I voted against. The development is part of the Federal Low Income Housing program, a government housing project which places maximum income limits on its residents. Those limits prove overly restrictive to most of Cary’s senior population, thus ignoring the true needs of our seniors. This project failed two approvals, before manipulation of our zoning code and procedures allowed it to be developed.
5. How do you feel about the way that Cary handled its harassment investigation of a village trustee?
Since I am the trustee on the receiving end of this unsubstantiated complaint, I do have strong feelings about the unauthorized investigation which initiated without Board knowledge or approval. A legal investigation affords a right to due process and I was denied that right and many others. Additionally, the mayor did not follow village code or state statute as they relate to ethics issues. The leaking of this action to news media is further indicative of true intentions and how an effort was made to attack my character. Therefore, it is my feeling the better question to ask would have been, how does a false harassment allegation harm the accused?
6. How do you feel about Cary’s social media policy?
I have always supported a social media policy which contains rules pertaining to staff and unionized employees. In fact, many months prior to the vote on this policy, I raised my concerns with our Village Administrator over the lack of rules regarding social media posts. Unregulated social media posts have caused confusion in our town, so my desire has always been to handle them through a Village designated spokesperson. This policy addresses those concerns and I support that portion of the policy. I voted against the policy due to its overreaching authority over elected officials. The policy places certain restrictions on elected officials which are unconstitutional and contradictory to authority defined in Illinois State law. The Illinois Open Meeting Act has direction on elected officials and their interaction on social media. Therefore, the portion of Cary’s social media policy covering elected officials was not needed and is possibly illegal. Lastly, I have fought for increased transparency throughout my term. In doing so, I promoted meeting video recordings, archived videos online, forthright communications with residents, and even provided my personal communications for the public to view. Cary’s Facebook page is a new step in transparency and long overdue, I support it!
7. What else should voters know about you?
It has been four years since being elected to trustee as a write-in candidate. Throughout my term, I have held fast to the promises I made to the people four years ago. I have voted against tax increases every year and stopped them three out of four of those years. My commitment to transparency has ushered in valuable new methods of communication which educate the people on village topics, actions taken, and future direction of our community. As part of my duty as a trustee, I have used personal funds to stand against abuses of power, illegal actions, and overstepping state authority. I am free of the conflicts of interest and weigh each vote based on community input and its merits for our town. I am honored to do this for you and ask for your vote for Cary trustee.