Northwest Herald Campaign Questionnaire
Name: Cynthia Kanner
Town: Village of Algonquin
Office sought: Trustee
Occupation: Executive Director, Environmental Defenders of McHenry County
Education: BA, International Comparative Studies, Duke University, ‘87
Elected offices held: This would be my first.
Social Media: Cynthia W. Kanner (Facebook)
1. What is your largest priority for Algonquin if elected?
My highest priority, although certainly not my only one, but with all the renovation in the downtown area, I feel it is crucial to have a solid and creative use program going forward so that the investment sees positive returns. That means also that there needs to be ample parking for all those who want to visit our restaurants and businesses. I can imagine some great events in the downtown area, where Main Street is closed off to vehicular traffic. The village can really promote this area as a destination for all Algonquin residents, from the east side, west side and historic district and I’d love to be part of that energy moving forward. The downtown, and the river as a wonderful natural resource, can be considered the heart of Algonquin and we should highlight that for both residents and visitors, attracting folks to our special local businesses and outdoor activities, such as biking and kayaking. Our town is naturally divided by the river and it’s important for a community to have a central gathering place. More and successful businesses will translate to lower taxes for residents and a sense of pride and belonging will come with that as well. We also need to attract varying types of businesses to downtown area to make it more likely that people from all over Algonquin and others will want to visit often.
2. What changes should Algonquin make in the future?
I would like to see changes toward more connectivity within our community. I would like to see an apprenticeship and internship programs for our young students, connecting our high school and community college residents with local businesses for practical experiences that can grow toward a possible career. This will help keep young people learning and working in Algonquin in the summers and during college should they stay in the area. I’d like to see an intergenerational program that connects our seniors with young people. In addition, I think the village, “The Gem of the Fox River” could actually do more to show off this natural resource – the Fox River. Businesses that provide bike, ski, kayak/canoe/SUP rentals, etc. would be a fantastic addition to our downtown, west side and east side. Hopefully, something interesting will move in where Raging Buffalo Snowboard Park once stood. My big dream would be to have a busy, vibrant outfitter in town as well! Algonquin can be known as a destination for outdoor enthusiasts with the river and bike trail so close to Main Street. This helps create a healthier town and takes advantage of the natural beauty, which is why Chicagoans first started coming to “Cornish Ferry” long ago. Public transportation options should be explored as well.
3. What are your thoughts on video gaming in the village?
I am not a fan of video gaming in Algonquin and ideally would like to see it removed. But, I am also well aware that most towns in our county allow gaming, including those directly surrounding the Village of Algonquin. Huntley, however, has a moratorium on new gaming establishments, I believe, which I would be in favor of here in Algonquin. I don’t think gaming has any curbside appeal and can lead to furthering negative and addictive behaviors in people while cheapening the look of our establishments, in my opinion. With a society that is obsessed with video gaming, sometimes at the cost of relationships and even jobs, it’s unfortunate that it has become a part of our social establishments. In some medical journals, video gaming is nearly classified as an addiction illness. Because gaming offers a revenue stream that the village relies on for Parks and Recreation, I believe, there must be some alternative source to collect that revenue should there ever be energy toward removing gaming from our town. I think limiting it to a business with a certain square footage is a good thing at this point, but I would be interested in exploring other options for revenue.
4. What makes you stand out compared to the other candidates?
I’m a first-time candidate but I’m not new to partnering with the Village on projects such as It’s Our River Day and BYOBag. I also sat on the Fox River Corridor Steering Committee. I have lived in Algonquin since 2000. I also feel it’s important to connect with surrounding towns and counties for a holistic view. I’m definitely a people person and a listener. My background in non-profit leadership and experience living in different parts of the country bring a unique background that would benefit the Village. I have traveled all over the world in previous work and have related to people from all walks of life from young students to First Ladies, small business owners to foreign diplomats and corporate executives. I truly enjoy meeting people, connecting with them and helping them connect to others. In the non-profit world, we do a bit of everything, such as communications, grant writing, public speaking, volunteer and membership development, budget work, and important community relationship-building. I have worked in the areas of foreign policy, astronomy, and presently environment. Having someone like me in the environmental field would be an asset to the Village as we pride ourselves on being a conservation town. There’s always more thought that we can do. I’ve attended meetings and spoken at hearings quite a bit over the past year both at the county and municipal levels and have a great deal of respect for the important process of public input. Engaging the public is paramount and communication and diplomacy are skills that have come naturally to me over my 32-year career.
5. What else should voters know about you?
I’m a flute player (rock, blues, trying to learn jazz) and play sometimes around town and hope to work up a band with my husband in the not-too-distant future. I also like to play the Navajo flute and I’d love to learn how to play the bagpipes one day. I have two teenage sons whom I adore and am a wild and domesticated animal lover (hence my photo here!)
6. What are your thoughts on how the village has handled downtown construction, Longmeadow Parkway, attracting businesses to the east side, etc?
I think the downtown construction has gone well considering the breadth of the project and winter season. New businesses are packed on the weekends. Improvements will continue and it’s going to be very exciting to see the results of this major uplifting project. I would very much look forward to being part of the team to figure out special events for the downtown area and how to better connect it with the South Main Street businesses.
With regard to Longmeadow and living just a mile north, I’m wondering how access to the bridge will work for locals, if at all; how noise will be managed in a once quiet and pristine part of the river area; and what mitigation will take place to ensure that the now bisected portion of the forest preserve will be handled to ensure that the river stays healthy.
On the east side question, I feel things have gone very slowly with upgrading buildings and filling vacant spaces. The Wendy’s sat vacant for more years than I can recall as have other areas within the old Piggly Wiggly strip mall. Our streets are not all that walkable to stores or the bike path (which takes us right into downtown, which is a great thing). We need a sidewalk and bike lane systems to make our east side safer and to have it connect better to the Prairie Trail. I believe our eastern most entrance into our beautiful river town could be improved and having more diverse businesses and entertainment related ones would be good for us on the eastside. I would love to see a community dog park! Our town is a scale and we need to balance both sides with the downtown and river as the stabilizer.