Full Name: Martha Pashcke
What office are you seeking? Alderperson, Ward 4 (Geneva)
What is your political party? N/A
What is your current age? 43
Occupation and Employer: Collaborative Diversion Coordinator, Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office
What offices, if any, have you previously held? None
Campaign Website: N/A - Facebook and Instagram @Martha Paschke
Education: M.A. Education, Aurora University, Aurora, IL
B.A. Psychology, Family Studies minor, Concordia University, St. Paul, MN
Community involvement: I have served as secretary on the Geneva Library Foundation board for the past 7 years; on the Family Service Association of Greater Elgin board for the past 2 years; am a founding member of Belong: Fox Valley; a founding member and volunteer with Moms Demand Action; I also serve on the Mission Committee, Earth Stewardship Committee, and Nominating Committee at Fox Valley Presbyterian Church, a volunteer with World Relief, and am a former Girl Scout leader.
Marital status/Immediate family: My husband Jeremy, a high school physics teacher and I have been married for 23 years. We have three kids, ages 20, 18, and 14. Our kids were all born here in Geneva at Delnor hospital, and have all gone through the Geneva schools. Our oldest, Hannah, is studying Social Work at Loyola University in Chicago; and our second born, Eli, is studying Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology, also in Chicago. Our youngest, Ev, is a freshman at Geneva High School.
Why are you running for office?
I believe I have a unique and valuable set of skills and experiences to contribute and I place a high value on serving my community, so I’d like to put those skills and experiences to use as an alderperson.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
I believe that my experience serving on boards as well as much of my work experience has equipped me to understand the necessity of solid policy development that considers all angles, budget management, and the importance of seeking out expert knowledge when making decisions that will have broad effect.
I currently serve as coordinator for the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Collaborative Diversion initiative - something that I have built from the ground up through careful research, securing of significant grant funding, developing of policies and procedures, and collaborating with other partners in the community from law enforcement to social service agencies. I think this in addition to my background in education and healthcare gives me a unique and valuable set of experience and skills to being to the table.
What is your position on the Illinois weapons ban that took effect in January 2023?
This makes Illinois the ninth state in the nation to enact such a ban and was done in response to the horrific mass shooting that took place in Highland Park last summer. As a founding member of the Kane and Kendall Moms Demand Action group, I respect law abiding citizens’ right to own firearms and also recognize the responsibility of government to enact common sense legislation in light of the modernization of weapons technology and I applaud this effort to protect Illinois communities. The ban prevents future sales of assault weapons and high capacity magazines, but makes exceptions for highly trained law enforcement and members of the military. It allows current owners of assault weapons to keep their guns, but asks that they register them with the state. It also makes it easier for courts to serve firearm restraining orders to remove weapons from particularly dangerous individuals. A appreciate that it makes us all a little safer.
Is crime a problem in your community and, if so, what would you do to curb it?
Crime is not a visibly significant problem in Geneva, however I don’t think we should ignore the fact that there is a lot of crime that exists in places that is not highly visible. Domestic violence happens everywhere. Thankfully, our local prosecutor has diversionary programming that can be used, when appropriate, to rehabilitate individuals through mandated treatment. Likewise, with low-level, nonviolent crimes like possession of controlled substances, trespassing, or retail theft, there is often an untreated mental illness, substance use disorder, or a lack of resources that is leading to the criminal behavior. The State’s Attorney’s Collaborative Diversion initiative works with these individuals to connect them to the services they need to help improve their lives and deter future engagement with law enforcement.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
I believe that it was handled the best it could be at the time with the information and resources available.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
I learned how to make sourdough bread and how to use Zoom. In all seriousness, though, I learned that people can become divided more easily and more rapidly than I had ever thought possible. We ultimately all want the same things - to be heard, to feel we belong, and to be validated. I hope that we can get back to a way of interacting where civility is the norm and where we can have important discussions about the things that matter even if we disagree.
How would you spur economic development in your community?
Geneva has a pretty solid Economic Incentive Policy intended to be used to encourage economic development on case-by-case basis when there is a demonstrated need. In addition to that, the City provides for the development of infrastructure that is needed to support development, which is something currently being undertaken on the east side with the Kautz Rd. area. It’s important to be mindful of supporting existing businesses and considering ways to encourage more people to visit. Everyone loves to talk about how lovely a day spent shopping in Geneva is, but it is often soon followed by some comment about the difficulty of finding parking or the frustration of locating a bathroom. If there were a way to address issues like that, I’m sure we’d see an uptick in visitors.
Would/can/should local governments do anything to help reduce the tax burden on residents?
Since a fairly small portion of our tax bill goes to the City, any reduction on the City’s part would be a minor adjustment overall. That said, I’d welcome discussions about ways to increase revenue in order to decrease the overall tax burden on residents.
Do you support recreational marijuana being sold in your community to help lower residents’ tax burden?
Yes. This was already passed by our City Council with one medical and one recreational dispensary allowed.
What projects or infrastructure would you look to address in your community and how would you do it?
After having reviewed the recently released drainage study, it is going to be important to make decisions about how to respond to the need for improving and enhancing the City’s drainage. While it doesn’t appear that the recommendations are necessarily earth-shattering news, it is important that we take into consideration the need to address our City’s climate resiliency - and drainage is a big part of that. With the anticipation of increasingly intense rain storms as the climate continues to heat up, our drainage system will be under more and more pressure. With any large-scale project like this, funding will need to be figured out, and with several other infrastructure projects already underway or under consideration, this will have to take its turn, but should not be neglected. The recommendations of the report and City staff would need to be considered when deciding how, and if the project gets done.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
Absolutely and unequivocally. I’ve lost an election before, and while it stung, I learned a great deal and respect the voters’ decision.
What is your position on open, transparent government?
It is necessary to the healthy functioning of democracy.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
Would you sign a nondisclosure agreement with a prospective company that would limit your ability to communicate with your community?
I’d prefer not to, and don’t anticipate this being a common thing, as it is likely to relate more to City staff. My goal would always be to do the best I can to represent my ward. If signing a nondisclosure were to become critical to advancing something that was in the community’s interest, I’d weigh the decision carefully.