ZACHARY PLOPPERT — GENEVA 1ST WARD ALDERMAN CANDIDATE
Name: Zachary Ploppert
Position Sought: First Ward Alderman
Campaign Contact Information
- 127 A North Sixth St, Geneva
- Michele Craft, Mother
- Ashlee Tyberg, Sister
- Chelsie Ploppert, Sister
- Paul Ploppert, Father
- Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education from Northern Illinois University, May 2012
- Graduate, Geneva High School, May 2008.
Current Occupation and Employer
- 1/2 Time Third Grade Teacher, H.C. Storm Elementary School, Batavia IL.
- Customer Service Manager, Geneva Ace Hardware.
Political Party Affiliation *
Why Are You Seeking Office?
The First Ward needs an alderman who remembers first and foremost his obligations are to the residents of his ward. Geneva must strike a balance between our historic character and commonsense decisions. In order to attract new businesses and residents, we must be conscious of how decisions today will affect current and future Geneva residents. As a lifelong Genevan I will help bring this balance to Geneva.
What will be your single most important priority if you get elected?
No new taxes or fees. Increased taxes and fees are not the solutions to our problems. Increased electric or water fees, increases to the city's portion of the property tax, or any other increase in taxes or fees is not going to fix what ails Geneva; and we have to quit putting the additional burden on the residents.
What do you think are the top three challenges facing Geneva?
If elected, how would you address those citywide challenges?
- Just say no. We need to take the option of new taxes or additional fees off the table. Not having the discussion in the first place is the only way to ensure additional burdens won't be placed on Geneva residents.
- We need to start attracting new businesses to town. There are many national chains that now have business models appropriate to both Randall Road and Third Street. We need to strengthen our economic development department and give them the direction to go out and solicit these businesses.
- I don't see why Geneva and St. Charles can't get a better price on garbage pick up by entering into a joint contract. I don't see why Geneva and Batavia can't reduce the cost of leaf removal by joining forces next time we go out to bid. There are many areas where we can join forces with our neighbors to the financial benefit of our residents.
What do you think are the top three challenges facing the 1st Ward?
1 & 2. As with the city on a whole, the top two challenges are eliminating any additional burden on the taxpayer while keeping the coffers of the city full by bringing in more tax revenue.
3. Downtown Geneva prides itself on its historic preservation. The guidelines on commercial buildings are needed and in some cases there's even room to make them a little tougher. The opposite is true for residences. The burden put on property owners with this one-size fits all historic preservation attitude is punitive. Property rights should trump all else.
If elected, how would you address those 1st Ward challenges?
- By consistently voting no on any issue that would result in a new tax or a new fee.
- Economic development in Geneva needs to be redesigned from the ground up. More and more national companies are understanding the needs of historic downtowns like Geneva and they are willing to work with the city to find a home. We need to aggressively begin a dialog with these companies.
- It may be time to break historic preservation into two separate commissions. One commission that reviews commercial projects only and one commission that reviews residential projects. Each of these commissions will be charged with redefining the guidelines more appropriate to the situation.
What sets you apart from the other candidate?
The first difference between my opponent and me is that I don't have a "this is how it's always been done" type attitude. The economy has changed, the city has changed and the solutions to our problems have to change.
The second point is historic preservation. While I applaud my opponent's zealous preservation attitude and his longtime commitment to the Historic Preservation Commission, I don't believe the attitude or background represents what is needed or wanted in the First Ward. While my opponent is looking to expand the scope of historic preservation further into the residential neighborhoods, I'm trying to limit and redefine these powers. The current commission, including my opponent, has sided way too often against the residents of the First Ward and their personal property rights.
Issue 1: What will you do to enhance economic development in Geneva?
More emphasis and expectation has to be put on the economic development department. We need to focus more on bringing sales tax producing businesses into the city. We need to aggressively reach out to successful businesses in other towns to see if they would like to open up additional locations. We need to reach out to successful businesses that would bring something unique and yet not offered in Geneva, and we need to work with the existing businesses helping them navigate the red tape to stay profitable and vibrant. Additional sales tax revenue and not new taxes and fees is the solution to any town's financial problems. As strong as a shopping destination that Geneva already is, we need to work hard to maintain what we have and expand upon it.
Issue 2: What will you do to hold the line on property tax increases?
While everything must be done to keep Geneva's portion of the property tax bill as low as possible, we need to remember that it's been sitting pretty steady at about 8%. The vast majority of our property taxes are generated by the schools. As much as I'd like to be part of the solution in reducing the school board's portion, it is handled by a separate taxing body which the Geneva Council sadly has no control over.
Issue 3: How will you use technology to improve city government?
In many companies as technology advanced, jobs that needed two employees were done with one. Record keeping that took an entire department is handled by one employee. Bids that were sent out by hand are now done by email. We are just starting to see the benefits of technology. Over the next three to five years, we should see the city reducing the number of full time employees as we take advantage of new technologies. In order to do this we need to drop the "this is how it's always been done" attitude and look at each department's employee needs with fresh eyes.
Do you think longtime residence in a community is an asset for a Geneva alderman?
Absolutely! Seeing the growth and direction Geneva has taken over the years gives you a better understanding of where we've been, where we're going and how we're going to get there. I believe both my opponent and myself benefit from having long and deep roots in Geneva. I just believe my opponent has tunnel vision as to the direction he wants Geneva to go.
Who are your three top campaign contributors and how much did they donate to your campaign?
Up to this point my campaign is fully self-funded. If and when we solicit outside contributions, while we will accept donations from Geneva residents, we will accept no donations from Geneva businesses.
Describe your leadership style and how it will apply to your term in office.
Cooperative and thoughtful. In order to get your thoughts across to your peers on the council, you need to possess a cooperative nature, have your facts in hand and be able to justify your position. To be an advocate for the residents of Geneva, you need to be able to convince the other alderman that your position is what's best for the residents of Geneva. Above all you have to understand you don't have all the answers and be wiling to reach out to the other alderman.
What have you done to support or enhance historic preservation in Geneva?
I am an adamant proponent of historic preservation for Geneva's commercial district. I believe Third Street and now parts of State Street are the direct result of hard work and good planning by the Historic Preservation Commission. My problem with historic preservation is solely on how commercial standards are being forced upon Geneva residents. There are many ways to give the residents of Geneva relief while still supporting historic preservation for our commercial projects moving forward.
Please add any other information pertinent to your campaign.
It's very difficult to bring new families into Geneva, and it's difficult for our current seniors to continue to afford to make their homes here. This is not solely the result of the economy. Moving forward the city council needs to understand the value of keeping our seniors in their homes and attracting young families to our town. It's imperative to relieve some of the financial burden on our existing and future residents by strengthening our business districts in order to bring in the revenue needed to accomplish this.
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