Full Name: Robert Brechbiel
What office are you seeking? Crystal Lake City Council Member
What is your political party? Registered Democrat (Council is non-partisan)
What is your current age? 47
Occupation and Employer: Firefighter/Paramedic for Crystal Lake
What offices, if any, have you previously held? None, ran for the same position in the last election
City: Crystal Lake
Campaign Website: Facebook: Robert Brechbiel for City Council (My responses to these questions will be posted there as well if the Herald doesn’t publish my full response)
Education: Bachelor’s degree from NIU
Community involvement: I have signed up to be a coach or assistant coach for my son’s Little League team
Marital status/Immediate family: Wife and two children
Why are you running for office?
My current employment with the city provides me with intimate knowledge of how the city functions, the services it provides, and how those services have been eroded over the last 10 years. The services Crystal Lake provides currently are not sustainable, not only is there no plan to make them sustainable, there seems to be an effort to cut the services further. The new developments that have already been approved will only strain the already failing services further. The current council has failed to plan for this growth and is ignorant to the current state of services the city provides to its residents.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
Simply put, I’m a resident of the City of Crystal Lake. I have also been involved with public service since my first job at 16 years old as a lifeguard. I later worked as a physical education teacher at Crystal Lake Montessori School before getting hired at Crystal Lake Fire Department.
What is your position on the Illinois weapons ban that took effect in January 2023?
This question has nothing to do with Crystal Lake City Council. As a member of Crystal Lake City Council I will follow and enforce all the State and Federal laws as they are written.
Is crime a problem in your community and, if so, what would you do to curb it?
It is safe to say Crystal Lake is rarely mentioned in the news, aside from the weather forecast. Therefore crime is less of a problem here than in other cities.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
I was really impressed by how the pandemic was handled locally. Crystal Lake and McHenry county as a whole handled it really well. I think it goes to show what the availability of resources and an educated public can do. Crystal Lake and the county consistently ranked at the top for vaccination rates among the state and nation. I am proud to be among people smart enough to be scared, smart enough to heed the advice of experts and smart enough to care that a single person’s actions can effect the health and well-being of others.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
I am grateful for everything I have and how quickly the world can turn upside down from things outside our control
How would you spur economic development in your community?
Having quality public spaces and well funded and staffed public services is important. People need to know they are safe to be comfortable. If they don’t feel safe they won’t move into and won’t come to visit our town.
Would/can/should local governments do anything to help reduce the tax burden on residents?
Things cost money and sometimes we either don’t see what we get for our money or we take it for granted. At times we need to step back and look at the big picture. Do we pay a lot in taxes? I’d say we do, but I can attest, we have great people who make up a police force that protects AND serves as well as any in the nation, Fire and Paramedic services run by people that can solve any problem they are presented with, a quality school district that produces an educated public that can innovate and respond to the needs of a community in difficult times, and public spaces that are beautiful, plentiful, and serve a large portion of the community. Taxes should be viewed as an investment for the future, not as a burden put on us today. Viewed from this perspective, I am grateful for the investment made by past generations and I plan to leave this place even better for our kids.
Do you support recreational marijuana being sold in your community to help lower residents’ tax burden?
Absolutely. It is beyond ridiculous how marijuana has been vilified in the past. Making it illegal has clearly been a failure in curbing use and hurt those who were caught using. Anybody who has ever smoked or used marijuana (a significant number by the way) knows its far less harmful, less addictive, and causes fewer societal problems than alcohol and/or tobacco. Legalizing, regulating and taxing isn’t only smart, but also protects those who would use it regardless of its legal status.
What projects or infrastructure would you look to address in your community and how would you do it?
Public services and public spaces. Addressing these would bring people out to experience the community. When people go out they shop and visit small businesses and they meet people who they have more in common with than not. The world becomes a little smaller, safer, and less scary.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
Absolutely. I’m actually embarrassed this has to be asked and answered.
What is your position on open, transparent government?
Government of the people, by the people, for the people. Seems like a good idea that has stood the test of time and I’m not going to be the one to change that or allow it to be undermined.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
Yes. Again, …of the people, by the people, for the people. Seems pretty straightforward.
Would you sign a nondisclosure agreement with a prospective company that would limit your ability to communicate with your community?
Never is a strong word, but I can’t imagine any situation that would prompt me to sign an NDA.