There are seven candidates running for four positions on the New Trier Township Board of Trustees.
1. What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the New Trier Township Board of Trustees if you are elected (or re-elected) to the position? What are your top priorities? Kevin Boyd: My goal as New Trier Township Trustee is simple “Continue to provide necessary services to the residents of New Trier Township at the lowest cost.” My top priorities are:
Review the current staffing, processes and services of the township to determine if they are as efficient and effective as they can be.
Improve the effectiveness of the communications about the services offered by the Township. Make all appropriate efforts to ensure that Township residents know about the services that are available to them. Focus communication efforts on digital whenever possible (e.g. email, Facebook, etc.) to reduce costs and ensure that communications are as timely as possible.
Create a four year strategic plan for the Township. The most recent strategic plan was through 2012. I believe there is value in the Trustees and the professional staff of the Township discussing the priorities, opportunities and challenges for the Township beyond a single budget year. The Trustee term is four years, so it would be helpful to have a plan align with the term of the trustees.
Bob Costello: My number one priority is to make sure the township continues to provide emergency assistance and long-term assistance to the people that need help in our community. We need to provide compassionate care for those in need, while we uphold our responsibility to the taxpayers that this is done efficiently and effectively. I want to bring fresh eyes to the position and make the Township more accessible and transparent to the people of the Township. Gail Schnitzer Eisenberg: In predominantly affluent areas like ours, it is easy to assume that the entire populous is doing well, but that is not the case. I hope to serve as New Trier Township Trustee to help my neighbors in hard times---economic, mental, physical, social---with the dignity that each citizen deserves. Accordingly, I would maintain or expand the services the Township now provides to our residents. The Township currently distributes $1.5 million to 34 different local non-profit agencies that operate 48-some programs serving New Trier Township residents across all socio-economic levels. At least 5-7 agencies might cease to exist or have to drastically scale back their services without township funding, especially those agencies serving youth who rely on the Township for at least 25% or more of their funding. Of the agencies that are most reliant on Township funding, most serve only or predominantly our communities. I would also explore which services might need to be expanded in this rough economic time and how we can ensure our grant recipient agencies can maintain their services given the state budget crisis. I’d like to revise the Community Grant Program so that mental health disorders are treated on par with developmental disabilities and assess whether the Township should add a second, part-time social worker to better serve residents. I hope to expand the use of peer juries, so that additional young people can stay out of the juvenile justice system (with those attendant costs to the community) while decreasing recidivism. I hope to reduce overhead expenditures by ensuring Township government is run as efficiently as possible and that every dollar spent is accountable to the residents. Residents deserve to know that our staff is exceeding their expectations. I’d revise office hours so that there is at least one evening a week where the office is open for intake and donations from those who work regular office hours. I’d also analyze and revise the Township’s Strategic Plan, which expired in 2012, to ensure that the Township is preparing for the anticipated needs of our residents over the foreseeable future. Kathy Myalls: My top priority is to make sure that the Township continues to provide important services to its residents efficiently and effectively. I would increase awareness of the Township and solicit more input from its residents as to how and where Township dollars should be spent. I would want to stop doing things “because they’ve always been done that way” and be sure Township business is conducted in a way that makes sense today. Elliott Robbins: My highest priority will be to advocate for the preservation of the Township. A well-organized movement is presently underway to abolish township government in Illinois. Having volunteered at NTT for the past 17 years (see my Biography at www.facebook.com/RobbinsforNewTrierTownship/about), I have a deep appreciation for the need for services provided by NTT, particularly for our most vulnerable residents, and I can articulate the value provided by NTT to all our residents. I am familiar with most of the social service agencies that depend on our funding and leadership, and I can explain the dire effects that dissolution of NTT will have on those agencies and on our most disadvantaged residents. In the next four years, I believe that the new Board of Trustees will face a referendum or another form of legislative hurdle that is presently being formulated in Springfield, which will challenge the continuation of our Township. I will utilize my position as Trustee to inform our electorate of the values of preserving NTT and the likely effects of its dissolution. Assuming NTT remains a viable governmental unit, my top priorities will be to continue to provide exceptional service to Township residents with full transparency and fiscal responsibility. John Thomas: With extensive pro-bono experience, I am quite familiar with both being a Trustee generally and the role of the Township specifically. In my third term as an elected Winnetka Park Commissioner, 14th year on the Winnetka Plan Commission, plus several years’ service on ZBA, all the ethics and restrictions attendant on an elected official are by now ingrained. Also, as a North Shore United Way Board member. I saw firsthand the devastating effects of the abrupt change in direction by United Way headquarters on many of our local agencies. My first priority will be to make sure that doesn’t occur here. A second priority will be to understand deeply area of current Township operations like the food pantry, peer jury and scholarship programs. I will then look at ways to improve and expand inter-governmental activities for the benefits on residents. Stacey Woehrle: My top priorities are to effectively and efficiently provide services to our neighbors in need, increase transparency in New Trier Township government, and to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars. If elected to this position, my goal is to understand the details of where the funds are currently allocated and how many citizens of New Trier Township are being served by these existing services. I would then take a fresh look at how we can improve fund allocation, whether that be to offer additional services and/or serve more citizens of New Trier Township. I also think it is important to evaluate Township expenses and overhead and reduce those expenses where appropriate.
2. What do you believe is role of the township, and how efficiently and effectively is New Trier Township fulfilling that role at present? Kevin Boyd: The New Trier Township’s mission is clearly stated as “provide leadership, advocacy and resources to benefit the physical, mental and social well-being of Township residents.” As a very local form of government close to the people it serves, the Township is able to be responsive to their needs. The Township can work at a faster pace than larger forms of government to get residents emergency assistance and even food (through the Township Food Pantry) when and where they need it. With approximately 56,000 residents in six communities, the Township is large enough to gain economies of scale, but small enough to effectively serve the needs of individual residents in need of assistance. I believe the Township should deliver its services with the lowest possible administrative costs. I will make this a priority. I believe that current the current services provided by the Township are valuable to our residents and a reduction of services could harm some of the most vulnerable Township residents. The Township currently operates in a relatively cost effective manner for the services it delivers. On a home valued at $500,000, the Township annual tax levy is $77.39. For most residents, the Township is about 1% of their property tax bill. For the year ending February 29, 2016, the township budget included $2,266,997 in property tax revenues. Of the total of $2,712,370 spent by the township for the year, $1,957,370 (72%) was spent on programs and services and $754,000 (28%) was spent on administration. This is good, but I believe could probably be better. I’d like to see administrative costs at 25% or less of the total budget. I believe that there may be opportunities to improve, but this will require a more detailed review of staffing, processes and services. This would include a review of how external service providers are used (e.g. legal, consulting and communications) as well as when work should be done in house versus contracted externally. I’d also like to explore whether the current staffing is optimal. Bob Costello: The Township’s essential role is to provide human services and emergency assistance to the people in need in New Trier. The role of the township has dramatically change since 1850 when it was first established. Over the years several of the duties of the Township, such as Constables, Commissioner of Highways, Justice of the Peace, Pound Master, and Collector, have been transferred to other political bodies. Currently the Township is focused on human services, and it does a good job of providing grants to non-profit organizations that provide essential human services to people in need in our community. I believe our volunteer constituent committees do a great job of reviewing and recommending social service grants. I believe more of the work at the township can be done by volunteers. I don’t believe the Township is efficiently doing its job. The overhead of the Township is just too high. Trustees can be better financial stewards, if we decease or eliminate compensation to the Township elected officials, which are all part-time positions. Also, I am concerned that the staff is too large and more expensive than we need to deliver necessary social services and emergency assistance. The larger the staff the more future pension obligations will grow for the Township. One example of excessive expenses is the Township spending $20,000 annually on the phone system. The phone system could be done on a much lower cost basis. The people of New Trier Township continue to see their property taxes increase, while their home values decrease. The residents need property tax relief. Illinois has the highest property taxes in the country. The Township property tax levy is a very small part of the overall property tax bill (less than 1%), but the Trustees can be better stewards of taxpayer funds, while still delivering the essential services to those in need. We can deliver these services more efficiently. Gail Schnitzer Eisenberg: New Trier Township’s mission is to provide leadership, advocacy and resources to benefit the physical, mental and social well-being of Township residents. Because the Township is the closest form of government to the people, it is in a unique position to be responsive to their needs. Township can work at a faster pace than larger forms of government to get residents emergency food and financial aid when they need it most. The Township is small enough to work with individual residents on their needs and big enough to minimize per-resident costs. As a homeowner, I too feel the shock when I open my property tax bill. But as a Citizen I recognize the importance of doing my part—it’s the main reason I am running. Of course, the Township--like all forms of government--should be a lean endeavor, but reducing services could harm resident pocket books. Less than 1% of our property tax bills presently go to the Township. Not only does more than twice the population of Kenilworth receive Township services, but we all benefit from reduced costs associated with ensuring that our population is healthy, happy, and safe. For instance, youthful offenders who go through the peer jury program experience a 5% recidivism rate as compared to 50% for comparable offenders. That said, there are almost certainly ways to make Township more efficient. I am particularly concerned with spending on unspecified legal services and consulting fees as well as for communications, printing, and publishing given the limited reach current communications efforts have had. I’d also like to explore whether our current staffing is best suited to the effective, efficient provision of services. Kathy Myalls: Much of the original role of the Township has become obsolete, as those functions have migrated to other government entities. What remains is to offer additional protection to the most vulnerable citizens in the Township by providing or funding human services. Currently the Township does this primarily based on the recommendations of three committees comprised of volunteers. These committees evaluate prior donations to a defined pool of charities and recommend adjustments to those prior donations to reflect current needs. Essentially, the Township’s primary function has evolved into funding the services that other entities provide. Unfortunately, the Township does not perform this function efficiently. The Township spends approximately 35% of its revenue on overhead. For perspective, a charity whose overhead absorbed 35% of its revenues would receive an “F” from ratings agencies. To the extent the Township provides services directly, these services are, in many cases, duplicative of the same services offered elsewhere. For example, the Township assessor is one avenue available to residents to appeal the valuation of their property. However, Cook County offers the same service. The Township processes passport applications, as does the United States Postal Service. The Township would be better stewards of taxpayer dollars by re- evaluating the size of the Township staff and related expenses. Personnel costs alone (salaries, pensions, and related contributions) total $500,000. These costs should be decreasing as Township services are available elsewhere, but they are not. I have been a proponent of ending the stipends of elected officials who serve in a part-time capacity, and the Township recently voted to end these stipends. Perhaps this timing was coincidental to the first contested election and the platform of the independent candidates to rein in costs of this type. Elliott Robbins: I believe in the present mission and guiding principles of NTT, which include providing leadership, advocacy and resources to benefit the well-being of our residents, particularly our vulnerable residents, including at-risk youth, disabled persons, seniors with limited means, victims of domestic violence, substance abusers and their family members, and families experiencing sudden economic hardship due to unanticipated job loss or catastrophic health crisis. I further believe that NTT must remain vigilant about identifying new and evolving social service needs, and thoughtfully address those needs as they arise. We must strive to measure outcomes of all programs we fund, and we must always act in a fiscally responsible manner. I believe NTT is reasonably efficient and effective in fulfilling these goals at present. The “Independent” candidates attempt to distinguish themselves by claiming that they would like to “reduce the Township’s substantial overhead.” This assertion is unfounded and requires explanation. I am unaware of any material expenses that could be characterized as unnecessary. The “Independent” candidates need to come out of the shadows and explain their views. John Thomas: The Township has several vital roles. It provides an important information center at its Winnetka HQ to help residents deal with Cook County taxes and assessments as well as applying for passports. It operates a food pantry that can be a lifesaver for less fortunate residents. Most importantly, the Township gives grants to over 40 social service agencies serving Township residents. These grants are vital given the major pullback five years ago in the North Shore by United Way mentioned above. Stacey Woehrle: The Township’s essential role is to provide social services to the people in need in New Trier Township. The Township is delivering those services, but I don’t believe it is doing so efficiently. With administrative and overhead costs well over 30%, I believe there is definitely reason to take a look at why these expenses are so high. A well-run charity has closer to 15% administrative and overhead expenses. The people of New Trier Township deserve better.
3. How should eligibility for township services be determined, and how closely does your vision for service allocation match current practices? Kevin Boyd: In general, I believe that eligibility of financial assistance programs should be based on need to best allocate limited financial resources. In fact, there are Township- administered programs that have statutorily defined criteria which determine eligibility based on a maximum income. Unfortunately, there are families making more than the maximum income who still have challenges living from month to month. I support the programs the Township has established with its community partners to meet the needs of residents who may not meet the strict statutory criteria like the Angel Fund. Whenever possible and practical I believe Townships services should be provided to all who have need. I am pleased that the Township has been able to offer services like the Peer Jury, Text-a-Tip, and various services for youth, developmentally disabled and elderly residents without regard for income level. Bob Costello: It is not completely clear to me how current eligibility is determined for general assistance. All program eligibility should be based on need. We must make sure no one in need falls through the cracks. Most of the Township programing funds are given out as grants to social service organizations. I have been very impressed by the work the volunteer committees do to review and make the recommendations for these grants. I believe we need to expand the role of volunteers in the Township. We live in a community that is rich in potential volunteers. I believe one of the roles for trustees is to recruit more volunteers. Gail Schnitzer Eisenberg: There are Township-administered programs that have statutorily defined criteria which determine eligibility based on a maximum income. Many families making significantly more than that are still struggling, especially due to the economic and budgetary atmosphere in Illinois. Thus I appreciate the programs the Township has established with its community partners to meet the needs of those residents who may not meet the strict criteria like the Angel Fund. With limited funds, I agree that most services should be need-based, but I am proud that many services like the Peer Jury, Text-a-Tip, and agencies working with youth, the disabled, or the elderly serve residents no matter their income levels. Kathy Myalls: It is not clear to me how all Township services are allocated, although I understand that for some need-based allocations, the income qualification level has been raised several times to no avail. In other words, the Township can’t give some of it away. Instead of providing services that target such a small percentage of the Township population, I would like to see the Township offer services that would serve more constituents. I also believe that more of what is done by the Township can be done more efficiently by increasing the volunteer pool. I believe it is the job of the board of Trustees to make these volunteer opportunities better known through the Township through improved outreach efforts. Elliott Robbins: Measuring eligibility and need for services varies by program, and thoughtful criteria must be pursued, which has largely been the practice of the Township in my observation, although we can do better. I disagree with the present Board’s decision to end the mental health support grants program, as I believe that objective and consistent standards could have been designed to determine eligibility. I generally oppose lottery-type allocations of funding, and I believe more in an equitable sharing of finite resources, assuming all applicants have met uniform eligibility requirements. I will constantly review criteria for eligibility to insure that NTT is nimble and cognizant of prevailing economic conditions, continued deterioration and unreliability in State funding, and potential deterioration in health care availability for sick persons or persons with pre-existing conditions, as well as the demographics of our aging population. I anticipate that demand will increase upon the Township by our residents for social services and funding, at least for the next 2 to 4 years, due to my perception of present State and Federal priorities. John Thomas: Eligibility for routine services must be available to any resident. Eligibility for grants should be, and is, based an agency serving mainly Township residents and with a service needed but not otherwise available. At present, it seems to me the Township does a very careful and thorough job investigating applicants to determine if they meet the necessary criteria. Follow- up monitoring by Township staff is also continuous and thorough. I would pay very close and ongoing attention to that process to make sure my confidence in it is well founded. Stacey Woehrle: Eligibility should be determined based on need. I would take a look at the number of residents served for each allocation and determine with the other trustees and supervisor whether we could offer either the same services to more residents or different services that would help a larger number of residents.
4. This race has drawn a large number of candidates. To what do you attribute that interest? Kevin Boyd: I and my fellow New Trier Economy Party candidates, Robbins, Eisenberg and Thomas, were slated by the non-partisan New Trier Citizen’s League to serve the Township in the role of Trustee. We share in common a desire to see the Township provide services efficiently and effectively for the residents of New Trier. We each responded to the call from the Citizen’s League, because we think it’s important to support and give back to the communities in which we live. I moved to Wilmette in 1992 and have served on other Village of Wilmette committees in the past. I won’t speculate too much on the motivations of our opponents. I find it interesting that two of them have written in the past that they support eliminating Townships. Bob Costello: The premise of your question, “a large number of candidates” is very interesting. There are only 10 candidates for seven elected positions in the township election, which means there are three positions with only one candidate, and the four Trustee positions have only seven candidates. If we had fewer candidates, say three less, all the seats would be unopposed. If there were fewer candidates what would be the need for voters? I wish we had more candidates. Competitive elections provide healthy debate and exposes the people to the responsibilities of the township. Elections hold township officers accountable to the taxpayers. Competitive races make all the candidates better. My hope would be in four years all seven of the offices would have competitive races, then organizations like the League would need to play a larger role. Gail Schnitzer Eisenberg: The non-partisan New Trier Citizens League did a fantastic job encouraging residents to volunteer. I responded to the call because I wanted to invest in the community where I intend to raise my family and model good citizenship for my children. I was humbled to be endorsed by the League after more than a year-long vetting process of many qualified candidates. I know that my fellow candidates Boyd, Robbins and Thomas, are similarly motivated by a desire to serve the community. It is hard to speculate why the three Coalition candidates were interested in running because they hadn’t previously been involved in the Township. Kathy Myalls: The race has not drawn a “large” number of candidates. There are 10 people running for 7 open seats, so 3 of those seats are completely uncontested. But there are definitely “more” candidates, since the chosen slate has never been contested. With 16 taxing entities grabbing a piece of local taxpayer dollars, it is not surprising that some elections are uncontested. I think this is a shame, as competition fosters accountability. For example, until our candidacy was announced, the minutes for the prior 18 months of meetings were not available on the Township website. Until last week, the budget passed last May, for the fiscal year ending in a week, was not available on the Township website. All were finally posted in response to inquiries from the independent candidates. But to answer the question directly, I believe that the tragic fact of rapidly increasing property taxes, coupled with dramatically falling home values (Kenilworth down 31%, Glencoe down 25%, Winnetka down 22%, Wilmette down 22.5% over the last 8 years), has fostered a greater interest in making sure that those tax dollars are well spent, and I hope more elections are contested in the future. Voters are better informed when candidates discuss the important issues. And I believe that voters should pick their elected officials, instead of having those officials selected by small caucus groups. Elliott Robbins: This race has drawn four candidates who were thoroughly vetted by the New Trier Citizen’s League, which is a non-partisan watchdog group that has been overseeing Township government for 104 years. The League advertises extensively for interested residents to come forward. The slate of four trustees was carefully selected with checks and balances in mind, using procedures followed by the League for decades. On January 23, 2017, the three “Independent” candidates approached the League through their representative, Danielle Mergner (who has since been appointed Chair of the New Trier Republican Organization), and inquired whether three of the slated candidates might be willing to drop out, to avoid a contested election. Ms. Mergner claimed that her three candidates knew nothing about the slating process, which was troubling to the League members who questioned how her candidates could be genuinely interested in Township affairs and in serving the Township, yet allegedly knew nothing about the slating process. I have greatly enjoyed my 17 years of volunteer service to NTT, and I believe I am ready to play a greater role. To my knowledge, none of the “Independent” candidates has done anything for the Township. On the contrary, in her unsuccessful campaign as the Republican Candidate for the 17th District Illinois House in 2014, one of Kathy Myall’s platforms was the elimination of township government in Illinois. Bob Costello’s LinkedIn page reflects that he has served on various anti- government organizations, including National Director of Americans for Limited Government and Chairman of Liberty Markets Fund for Freedom, which advocates unleashing America from the chains of big government. The residents of NTT should be concerned about the true intentions of the “Independent” candidates before handing them the keys to the door of our 167-year old Township. John Thomas: Last September a close friend who knew of my extensive pro-bono service, suggested his “Citizens League” was seeking possible New Trier Trustee candidates. I applied, was one of many interviewed and was selected in October as part of a four-person trustee slate. In 2017, the Citizens League appears on the ballot as the “New Trier Economy Party”. The non-partisan Citizens League has been vetting and selecting New Trier Trustee candidates for decades with unquestioned veracity, energy and success. The excellent qualifications of my fellow candidates are a solid testimony to the thoroughness of this decades- old process. Speaking to the “large” number of candidates, in January the head of the New Trier Republican Organization came to the League and presented three other candidates Those three had done the appropriate paper work to be on the ballot. She asked if the League would replace three of their slated candidates with the three she represented. The League said no. Not being a mind reader, I don’t know the motivations of the three “independent” candidates. However, two of the three have been on record in the past as in favor of eliminating Township governments. And, being presented and represented by the head of the New Trier Republican Organization suggest strongly they will be backed by that political party. In turn, the supposedly non-partisan election may well be partisan? Stacey Woehrle: I don’t believe the Township to date has done a very good job with the taxpayers’ money. In addition, as stated in question number five, the majority of residents do not have a clear understanding of the Township’s role and how to become involved if they have an interest. I believe competition fosters accountability and transparency.
5.Most residents do not have a clear understanding of the Township’s role. What would you do to promote transparency? Kevin Boyd: I think the Township needs to be much more proactive with its communication to residents about the programs and services it offers. The website is currently somewhat out of date with many pages still referencing 2014 information. In 2017, the Township should be focusing most of its resources on digital communications. There should be a regular (weekly or monthly), attractive and engaging email newsletter about Township services. The sign-up for the email should be easily accessible on the home page of the web site. The email newsletter should be promoted at every possible opportunity. It may be desirable to continue a print newsletter for some residents (perhaps on request after some number of issues), but it should always be used to promote the timeliness of the digital resources (including Facebook and Twitter). It should be a priority to improve the Township web site and improve search engine optimization so that residents searching online for assistance will be more likely to find the services available to them from New Trier Township. Search engine optimization helps to ensure that even if residents don’t think about the Township every day, they will find the services they need “just in time” when they need them. A better organized web site will help improve transparency for the Township and communication overall. Bob Costello: I would go further and say a lot residents do not realize that there is a distinct political unit of government named New Trier Township with its own taxing authority, that is separate from New Trier Township High School. Part of the reason for this is that there has not been a competitive election for any New Trier Township positions in several decades. Transparency is a major reason Kathy, Stacey and I are running for trustee. Now with three independent candidates running this year transparency has improved already. This competition itself will help citizens take notice of the Township. Not only will citizens take notice, but the Township office has taken notice. Township Board meeting minutes for 2016 meetings were finally posted after it became known that there will be competitive elections. The 2016-2017 budget (which ends 2/28/17) was passed by the Board on May 26, 2016, but it was only put up on the township website last week. The Trustee recently eliminated the compensation that trustees receive (a savings of $4,000). This was the right move and it probably only happened because of the competitive Trustee race. If we are elected, here are five tangible transparency proposals we will put in place:
Post on the website as soon as they are available: meeting minutes, and budgets - not 9 or 10 months later.
Post the Township monthly board meeting agenda on the website at least one week prior to the meeting.
Make all Township expenditures transparent by posting both Township checkbooks online in an easily accessible and searchable format. Every Township resident can know how every Township tax dollar is spent, in real time.
Undertake an e-mail campaign with New Trier Township residents who want to be kept up to date on township activities and services.
If a staff position at the township needs to be filled, it will be publicly posted and open to people in the community to apply, and not just filled by a friend of one of the elected officials in a closed process. Transparency and accountability go together and we plan to increase both.
Gail Schnitzer Eisenberg: The approximately 5,500 Township residents who utilized Township services in the last fiscal year, likely have a good understanding of only a few parts of the Township’s role. Any citizen engagement should be an opportunity to discuss other aspects of the Township. I would promote transparency for the other 50,000 residents by updating our website to modern, mobile-friendly standards, reorganizing the content by population served to make the website a more efficient resource to those looking for help, and updating the calendar to ensure committee meetings are accessible to the public. I would reassess the paper newsletter, which reaches few residents for the cost, and increase placement of limited printed versions at agency grantees, schools, community centers, and municipal buildings. I’d emphasize electronic communications by cross-promoting our new and improved e-newsletter with other local governments, and increasing our social media presence. During this campaign I have begun “Township Talks,” around the community; I’d like to continue if elected. Kathy Myalls: I’m not even sure that most voters know that there is a Township. Transparency is a key reason Stacey, Bob and I are running for office. Transparency comes both in proactive and reactive forms: the Township can reach out, and the Township can have information readily available when residents reach in. We feel that the Township currently does neither, as evidenced by the missing minutes and budget. There is simply no visibility into what the Township did and is doing. I also believe the Township should do more outreach. Despite living in Wilmette for 12 years now, and considering myself active in the community, I have never heard from the Township except for an occasional mailing. I only discovered when exploring this run that the Township appoints committees of volunteers to help determine how Township funds will be spent. I also learned that an assessor position was recently filled by one of the grade school classmates of the supervisor. Again, I saw no outreach to Township residents advising of an open position or soliciting input as to qualified candidates. While posting notices in newspapers is a quaint method of reaching some people, the lack of digital outreach by the Township is surprising, and the lack of visibility into Township business is disappointing. If elected, we will be diligent about posting Township business, and will undertake an e-mail campaign to be sure that the Township communicates with any residents who wish to be kept updated. We will create and maintain a social media presence, and will work to host events to encourage community participation beyond making donations at the food pantry. We will guarantee total visibility into Township finances by posting the Township checkbooks online. Accountability comes from transparency, and we expect to increase both. Elliott Robbins: NTT has improved its transparency in recent years, particularly with its robust and informative website (www.newtriertownship.com), but more can be done. I would propose that Township officials, in concert with representatives of some of our key social service agencies, participate in the annual Freshman orientation programs at all our Township high schools. When incoming Freshmen and their parents are examining extracurricular opportunities, they should be informed about the Township’s pre-eminent Peer Jury Program (www.newtriertownship.com/services/peer_jury_program.aspx), as well as other volunteer opportunities at the Township and within the many diverse agencies that partner with the Township. At the same time, their parents should be informed about the adult opportunities to serve on our Township’s four advisory committees that oversee the Township’s funding of our social service programs. (www.newtriertownship.com/get_involved/volunteeradvisory_committee.aspx). John Thomas: My friends and neighbors have little idea what the Township is or does. Township staff needs to do a significantly better job of directly informing residents of what it is does and why. While the Township web site is full of information, it is a reactive tool, not proactive. Better use of emails, social media and other emerging internet tactics could carry Township messages better and further. Stacey Woehrle: One of the key ways I will promote transparency will be to start an email newsletter summarizing key issues and highlights with the Township either monthly or quarterly. I also believe the Township should have a presence on social media promoting events and encouraging community participation. Also, timely posting of financial information (both budget and actual) along with meeting minutes will help to promote transparency within the Township.
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