Status Quo Being Upset in New Trier Township Elections
Democracy and contested elections aren’t very popular within the New Trier Caucus, But if you’re tired of high taxes and not thrilled with being told who you must vote for, this year promises to be different for voters looking for a more transparent and responsive government. For the 2017 election season, New Trier Township has some new candidates, Kathy Myalls, Bob Costello, and Stacey Woehrle, running as independents, who are upsetting the status quo of high taxes and big spending in the district.
For the first time in voter memory, New Trier Township elections are being contested, with 3 new candidates stepping forward promising better governance, transparency and a reduction in administrative and overhead spending. At the same the new candidates are planning to deliver bigger grants to Social Service providers serving the New Trier Area (such as the Warming House and the Angel Fund).
The effort to improve Township government has met with a big pushback from the supporters of the status quo. Quite a few vested interests in the township are not at all interested in more transparency or efficiency improvements at the Township and have gone on the offensive against the notion that anyone should challenge their fiefdom. The Fifteen Members of the New Trier Caucus have declared themselves to be better judges of the candidates than the voters, and are not happy that they are being challenged. Via the outdated ‘caucus’ system of nominating candidates, the supporters of the establishment have gone as far as slating and endorsing anti-reform candidates, then making the bizarre claim that their political machinery is somehow ‘non-partisan’.
The Circa 1850 Township is a throwback to the days when New Trier was a farming community, with a small population and a very small municipal government necessitated a Township to provide things like law enforcement, fire protection and road maintenance. Having grown out of that necessity, the Township lives on as a grant making operation, supporting many social services and charities, while also referring community inquiries to the proper municipal office.
The redundant operations have generally been eliminated (there is no New Trier Police Department), yet the administrative system still exists as if we were still living in a time before there were organized municipalities in the Township. This has brought us to the odd situation where the Township keeps building up funds and administration, while only making a minimal impact on the Social Services that are it’s stated purpose to support. Reserves, in this tiny part of government, have reached around $2 Million, while the administration, which approaches 40% of overall expenses, searches for ways to spend taxpayer money within the very limited scope of a township.
Yet the status quo supporters have offered no explanation as to why the taxpayers of New Trier should accept the higher taxes that are offered up year after year, supporting a broken system rather than pushing for simple improvements that could turn things around.
Though the Township is a small part of the tax levy, every government body needs to be good stewards of taxpayers funds. Out of control property taxes have a negative effect on home values, but this does not have to be the case, as shown when Wilmette Parks actually decreased the tax levy in 2016.
The mere appearance of a contest has already started producing results. The 2017 budget was posted after numerous requests from the new candidates. Trustees also voted down their salaries, again in response to the new candidates. Contested elections are coming on April 4th which provides voters a once in generation chance to have a choice in Township government and get some accountability from elected officials when spending taxpayer money.