Name: Kimberly Covelli
Office sought: Village trustee for Cary
Occupation: Police Commander
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Northern Illinois University; Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Webster University; Graduate of Northwestern Center for Public Safety School of Police Staff and Command
Elected offices held: Village of Cary Trustee
Social Media: Cary Connection
1. What is your largest priority for Cary if elected?
There are several issues the next board will face, but I believe the largest priority is finding additional revenue sources to ensure keeping a balanced budget each year. In August 2017, staff proposed potential revenue sources to board members, which only included new taxes, increasing property taxes through new growth, and increasing license and permit fees. I believe it is important for village staff and board members to continue to promote and identify new revenue sources other than simply continuing to pile on taxes to the citizens. Specifically, I believe we need to identify and promote businesses generating new, reoccurring sales tax. I believe we need to recognize the open land opportunities we still have, and we need to ensure we are making all efforts to add these types of businesses to those areas. Maplewood is an example. The last builder who came forward only proposed adding high-density residential units to the area. I suggested lessening the residential density and look at adding businesses in line with the character of the downtown area. It is imperative the Board does not waver on prioritizing the importance of sales tax revenue. We cannot continue to strain our residents with more taxes.
2. What changes should Cary make in the future?
A continual “ask” I hear from residents is their desire to see more businesses come to Cary. I believe it’s time to evaluate adding an Economic Development Coordinator to specifically work on bringing more business to the Cary. This individual could be hired on a contractual basis with provisions set forth in the contract that directly correlates earnings with performance.
The Division of Transportation offers a program called MCRide Dial-A-Ride. This program is designed to provide individuals transportation around McHenry County. The program offers discounted fees to senior citizens and persons with disabilities allowing them greater mobility. Many towns in McHenry County are part of this program, and I believe this is something Cary should consider exploring and implementing.
Cary should evaluate contracting with outside entities for the extra use of its personnel. During the 2017/2018-budget year, police overtime was estimated at $100,000 over budget. Cary should be compensated by these outside entities for supplying their personnel to the events. These events are great and the Board should continue supporting these events with honoring road closures, providing equipment, and volunteering; however, Cary cannot shoulder the added expenditure of paying personnel the overtime expenses for non-village managed events.
3. How do you feel about Cary’s video gambling and any potential expansion into places such as gas stations?
During my tenure on the Village Board, I’ve supported gaming licenses for establishments throughout Cary. Over the years, the Village of Cary has recouped large dollars from these gaming devices and in turn has used the money to fund several projects; however, as these requests for more gaming continue to come before the village board, I have growing concerns Cary may start to experience an oversaturation effect with too many video gaming devices in town. As with any potential development, I feel any new business proposal needs to be afforded equal opportunities while being evaluated and scrutinized to determine if the project is suitable for Cary. One instance of a gaming license I voted in favor of was for Cucina Rustica. One of the aspects I liked about the Cucina Rustica plan was the petitioner proposed placing its gaming machines by the bar area in an obscure alcove. This is one example of many that currently exist in town, but it’s also a great illustration of how those of us currently on the Village Board worked with the petitioner to blend their needs and the Village’s overall long-term vision for its business community.
4. How do you feel about Cary's recent and upcoming senior housing projects?
In 2015, a petitioner came before the board with a final site plan that included attached homes with single-story living targeted toward senior citizens on the corner of Harper Avenue and Haber Road. I approved the final development proposal because I believed it was a quality product, and because I recognized there is a need for maintenance-free single story living for our senior population.
I did not support the 62-unit affordable senior rental housing development. The site this development will be built on was initially zoned as “business district” on the Village’s Comprehensive Plan and was identified in the plan as an area suitable for retail. There is a lack of remaining land in the Village for development, and adding residential rental units meant the Village sacrificed potential business development for this area. This is affordable housing project, which means it strictly limited to qualifying low-income households with only a 30-year guarantee this rental development will be strictly for seniors due to the covenants of the affordable housing act. In 2015, the Village Board passed an Affordable Housing Plan, which acknowledged Cary already has an affordable housing stock available, and it is above what the Illinois Housing Development Authority recommends.
5. How do you feel about the way that Cary handled its harassment investigation of a village trustee?
I feel this investigation was handled poorly and wasted taxpayer money. I believe this issue was a political ploy drummed up to damage Jim Cosler’s reputation. The initial report was finalized with one-sided reporting. For starters, only three out of the seven, board members were interviewed for this report. I believe any potential for a statement from me was dismissed when Ellen McAlpine went on record to state I “side with Trustee Cosler.” As a point of clarification, over the years, there have been a number of issues Jim Cosler and I have disagreed on; yet, he has always been respectful of my opinion and that’s something I would have voiced but was never asked. One of the findings of fact stated, “Since Trustee Cosler did not make himself available for an interview...” This is not accurate. Jim has email documentation showing he tried to meet with the attorney. A second report from a different attorney found, even with the one-sided reporting, no harassment occurred against McAlpine. Board members agreed with the second report, and as a result, brought forth a resolution repudiating this report and condemning the use of taxpayer funds for politically motivated purpose. The resolution passed.
6. How do you feel about Cary's new social media policy?
During my time on the village board, I’ve been a proponent of Cary utilizing social media. When this matter was discussed in 2015, staff expressed concern about limited resources and the time they would focus on social media rather than addressing other issues. I acknowledged their apprehensions and voiced concerns of my own, including if Cary implemented a Facebook page that was simply static in nature, no one in the community would pay attention to the page. When the issue of Cary revisiting social media was brought forth again, I was immediately in favor of its implementation. I am pleased the Village of Cary is finally on social media. With or without a social media policy, the Village of Cary can have a social media presence; however, I believe having a policy in place provides clear guidelines for staff on how to manage the site(s).
Having a social media presence will allow Cary staffers to disseminate timely information as well as dispel any false information. Also, this is a free marketing tool for the promotion of all the great happenings in town. I am proud Cary now has another communication tool to reach a large majority of the community.
7. What else should voters know about you?
Since elected as a write-in candidate in 2015, I have held true to my campaign promises. I feel it’s incumbent upon elected officials to not simply rubber stamp projects. Over the years, I’ve proudly said no to increasing the tax levy each year and I’ve voted no to irresponsible spending. I’ve questioned and went against the traditional way of doing things – the answer “because that’s the way we’ve always done things” is not a sufficient answer. I am an independent thinker and my votes over the past four years have been solely based on one question, “Is this the right thing for Cary.” Over the years, I’ve championed the use of more communication tools including defending the need to video board meetings, advocating Village run social media outlets, and supporting a new Village website.
I have a diverse background with almost 17 years working in the public sector, and I have a master’s degree in business administration. At home, I am representative of a lot of Cary folks – I am a wife and a mom of three young children. If re-elected, I will remain committed to Cary and work just as hard the next four years for Cary residents.