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2011 Election Issues: Tom Cunningham, Orland Park Village Board Candidate

As a follow-up to our initial and more-biographical questionnaire, we asked candidates to answer issue-specific questions.

Nine candidates are campaigning for three open seats on Orland Park’s board of trustees. Candidate Tom Cunningham offered his thoughts on eminent domain with regard to the Main Street Triangle, TIFs and running the village as a business.

Does the current board engage in enough debate and discussion before voting?

No, the current board is a rubber stamp for the mayor. The agenda is not specific. Too many items are on the consent item that should be separate to see how each individual votes on matters.

You had an opportunity in the last questionnaire to name the biggest problem facing Orland Park. Are there any others? How do you plan to solve them?

One of the biggest problems facing our village is the sales tax. The tax needs to be reduced to similar surrounding suburbs to compete for business. Too often I have heard from residents that they are shopping elsewhere to save on the sales tax in Will County or elsewhere.

Trustees and staff plugged a $1.8 million budget gap this fall by increasing certain fees and fines, including vehicle stickers, without cutting staff. Is there anything you would have done differently?

Yes!  Number one. I would have held pay raises to nothing. In Orland 135 School District we as a Board did not give our administrators a raise last year. If the revenues aren't there you can't keep taxing the homeowners to death.

The phrases “fiscally conservative” and “efficient use of taxpayer money” comes up regularly on the campaign trail. How do you propose keeping a tighter budget that doesn’t burden taxpayers, while keeping Orland Park accessible, competitive and desirable?

First of all, all salaries must come in line with CPI (Consumer Price Index).  If the CPI is .1, then you can't expect to get a 5% raise just because you want it.  The taxpayer is not going to take this kind of representation any more!

The proof is in the pudding as I stated with our seniors attending a forum in the Township last Friday! We at Orland 135 held our ground on raises this past year for administrators because we are in deficit spending this year. More layoffs are probably going to happen next year depending on enrollment.

The Main Street Triangle project—and eminent domain lawsuit—has divided many residents. Is it a worthwhile use of taxpayers’ money? How can the village help these businesses get started that?

The Orland Park (Bermuda) Triangle! The power of eminent domain is supposed to be for public use like roads and bridges that have to be build and the land is in the way.  The corner of 143rd and Lagrange Road has sucked over $40 million taxpayer dollars to date. The attorney fees being racked up are over $300,000.00. Can you say nightmare on the Triangle!

What are your thoughts on the village’s use of TIF districts? Has the village used them effectively? Why or why not? Would you do anything differently with TIF?

As I stated on Friday, TIFs are good in blighted areas. 10 years ago we had the second mall failing and something had to happen. A TIF was put in place for the developer to improve the property to today's shoppers’ needs and BINGO it is making money today. The TIF was paid off one year early as well.  The TIF at 143rd and LaGrange Road never should have taken place.  Orland Park has lost over 20 businesses on that corner.  How much sales tax did we miss in the last 10 years while the property sits vacant? Lastly, the POWER of EMINENT DOMAIN is for public use not private businesses being taken to give to another private company to develop that has sweetheart ties to the village.

The board unanimously approved a resolution this fall that gives the board the power to award village contracts to local vendors, even if they haven’t offered the lowest bid (within limits). Is this a good policy? Why or why not?

NO!  Run the village as a business period. No-bid contracts should not be allowed. Just look at Waste Management’s deal. The mayor received $4800.00 in campaign contributions from this company and they renewed the deal without going out to bid.

The board on March 7 voted to add reasons for which police can impound the car of an alleged offender. These include, but are not limited to: motor vehicle accidents involving damage to the vehicle and public indecency. It costs the alleged offender $500 to retrieve their impounded car. Do you support expanding the reasons for impoundment?

I am all for great law enforcement. Impounding a car is wrong just for an accident per se.  It puts an UNDUE burden on any car owner so the village can make $$$$$.  STOP putting the homeowner and car owner in your pocket because you can. It's wrong.

When the village sold “open space” land to the Orland Fire Protection District last summer some residents worried that it would set a precedent that would result in loss of open space land. Do you agree with those residents?

Open Space is for open space!  Why did the village give the Fire District the property when in fact they bought it for Open Lands? Another abuse of power by this village.

Would you support a referendum to bring the Orland Fire Protection District back under the control of the village? Why?

Before I would answer this question, it would have to be studied to see the viability.  This is not an easy task.  More debate would have to occur with both taxing bodies and the residents to have all the facts to make the best decision possible for the residents of Orland Park.

Would you support term limits for trustees and village president? Why?

No!  If you don't like the current trustees or mayor then un-elect them!

Do you have any past arrests and/or convictions?           

Not convicted of any crime. Expunged.

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