Full Name: Anais Bowring
What office are you seeking? Geneva Alderperson, First Ward
What is your political party? N/A
What is your current age? 40
Occupation and Employer: Full time parent
What offices, if any, have you previously held?
Campaign Website: www.anaisbowring.net
Education: PhD Politics, University of California Santa Cruz
BA History, The College of William and Mary
Community involvement: None, currently.
Marital status/Immediate family: I am married and have two children, ages 3 and 1.
Why are you running for office?
I look forward to serving as a representative of Geneva’s First Ward and working with the City Council, Mayor, and the city staff to make Geneva as inclusive, welcoming, and sustainable a community as possible.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
First, as a Geneva resident for the past nine years, I am invested in helping Geneva continue to plan responsibly for the future. Moreover, my doctorate in politics and my experience developing educational resources on state and local politics give me useful insight into the challenges facing local government and help me envision opportunities for solutions.
What is your position on the Illinois weapons ban that took effect in January 2023?
I absolutely support the recent Illinois law prohibiting the future sale or exchange of assault weapons. As a parent, I am committed to keeping our communities and our children safe, and as long as local law enforcement implements the law, I believe it will help remove dangerous weapons from our communities.
Is crime a problem in your community and, if so, what would you do to curb it?
Geneva is, by and large, a safe community. I strongly support initiatives like the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Collaborative Diversion program, and am encouraged to hear that Geneva’s Police Department is exploring participating in the program. Evidence shows that investment in communities is the best way to reduce the incentives that lie behind most crime.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
In my experience, the city of Geneva, and Kane County worked diligently to implement all safety requirements mandated by state and federal agencies, to ensure that vital services continued for residents during the pandemic, and to minimize the economic impact on local businesses.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
The pandemic had a number of hard lessons for us. First, we learned how vulnerable we are to a quickly evolving public health emergency, something which has not fundamentally changed even though we now have some tools to deal with COVID. Second, we saw that people and communities with resources and options, could weather such hardship relatively well, while those who could not work remotely, or take time off to get vaccinated fared much worse. For me, the pandemic is ultimately a reminder that we have so much more work to do to ensure equity in our communities, state, and nation.
How would you spur economic development in your community?
Geneva has very limited opportunities to grow geographically, so we need to look for economic growth opportunities in other ways. I will use my vote on Geneva’s City Council to support viable commercial and industrial development projects, which expands the city’s tax base. I will support the use of Tax Increment Financing Districts to enable infrastructure upgrades and development in areas of Geneva that need them, which improves accessibility while improving the look and feel of the city, and contributes to the city’s tax base. Finally, I will encourage the continuation of the many festivals and events that attract visitors to Geneva.
Would/can/should local governments do anything to help reduce the tax burden on residents?
Taxes are an essential tool that fund vital infrastructure and services in our communities, and residential property taxes are only one of the ways the city generates revenue. I will work to ensure that Geneva has a diverse tax base that includes revenue from state and federal funds, industrial and commercial enterprises located in Geneva, and visitors frequenting the city’s many businesses and restaurants, in addition to revenue from residents’ property and sales taxes.
Do you support recreational marijuana being sold in your community to help lower residents’ tax burden?
Yes. Recreational marijuana is now legal in Illinois, and I support its appropriate and responsible use. Geneva’s City Council voted in 2019 to permit one medical and one recreational cannabis dispensary within city limits. This will allow Geneva to access another source of sales tax, should a dispensary choose to locate in the city.
What projects or infrastructure would you look to address in your community and how would you do it?
There are a number of upcoming infrastructure improvements needed for Geneva’s water, sewer and electrical systems, and they will require substantial investment. Rate increases for Geneva’s residents and commercial and industrial customers will be an important funding mechanism for that work. I agree with the current City Council’s determination that the alternative to investment now is likely more costly and disruptive damage recovery later. Similarly, a recently completed drainage study for the city showed that there are serious deficiencies that need to be addressed to handle expected storm water increases and to lower the risk of flooding. In addition to supporting these projects, I also want Geneva to increase its use of sustainable energy wherever possible, continue working on efforts take advantage of available state and federal funds to remove Geneva’s dam in the Fox River, and add municipal composting to our waste management services.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
Absolutely, yes. Free and fair elections are an essential part of our democracy. I am confident that the Kane County Clerk’s office will administer a free and fair election for voters. If I were running opposed, I would accept the voters’ decision.
What is your position on open, transparent government?
I believe strongly that open meetings and transparent processes promote public confidence and serve as a critical check on corruption and inefficiency. I appreciate Geneva’s commitment to open meetings and that the city makes so much of it’s business easily accessible on their website, including meeting agendas, minutes, telecasts, and even a webpage that centralizes access to information about Geneva’s services and procedures.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
Yes. As a policy historian, I have used FOIA and benefited from others’ FOIA requests to learn about federal policy development. While much government business at both the local and federal level is public from the start, FOIA provides a mechanism to provide access to government action that might not be public from the outset, sometimes after a waiting period to protect government bodies’ ability to do some work confidentially. Protecting citizens’ reasonable access to government records is a vital part of our American system of checks and balances.
Would you sign a nondisclosure agreement with a prospective company that would limit your ability to communicate with your community?
As a candidate for public office, I would not sign a nondisclosure agreement that limited my ability to communicate with my community, as I believe that would present a conflict of interest. Illinois recently passed a law limiting companies’ ability to use nondisclosure agreements in order to prevent whistle-blowing, and I wholeheartedly support such protections for whistle-blowers, who provide a valuable public service.