Full Name: Tom West
What office are you seeking? City Council (Woodstock)
What is your political party? None
What is your current age? 52
Occupation and Employer: Semi-retired English teacher
What offices, if any, have you previously held? None
Campaign Website: No
Education: Two Master’s degrees, one in English from Northeastern Illinois University; one in Education from the University of Illinois - Chicago.
Community involvement: None, at present
Marital status/Immediate family: Not relevant to seeking political office
Why are you running for office?
I believe in honesty and transparency in government. The Woodstock council should represent and reflect the voices of all of its residents, not just those with commercial interests. I have resided here for four years, and there is much about the quality of life in Woodstock that I wish to protect, such as its tranquility and historic charm, and its abundant green spaces.
I think and hope that I can do a good job of making decisions on behalf of the people of Woodstock based upon my sense of civic duty and my commitment to a humanistic perspective.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
My 52+ years as a human being on the planet.
What is your position on the Illinois weapons ban that took effect in January 2023?
I think the People would be better served by state (and federal) government attacking the epidemics of mental illness and political extremism in this country rather than second amendment rights.
Is crime a problem in your community and, if so, what would you do to curb it?
Not really, no. There are the usual bar fights, domestic disturbances, and incidents of drunken driving that are typical in villages and smaller cities across America. It would be beneficial for communities to devote more resources for treating individuals’ abusive behaviors, e.g. those related to liquor and illicit substances and domestic/familial situations. One thing I’d like the Woodstock police department to focus more on is the creep of noise violations with regard to high-decibel stereo systems in automobiles.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
Overall, I think the CoViD-19 pandemic was handled fairly well locally, but most especially on the state level. Illinois fared much better than most states. The CoViD-19 teams both statewide and in the City of Chicago looked to have very competent and committed professionals in leadership roles.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
People really need to see each other in public spaces and connect. People cannot live in isolation.
How would you spur economic development in your community?
I feel that Woodstock would benefit from continuing to attract light manufacturing companies, tech companies, and wind-power companies, as well as artists and artisans to the region. People, especially younger people, need consistent and meaningful jobs to be able to have happy lives. I certainly do not advocate for unfettered commercial development for the City of Woodstock. That would be a huge mistake and a disservice to the people who live here. Most people who grew up in Woodstock or (as I did) moved here from another place have chosen to enjoy a small city atmosphere -- where neighbors know one another and there is a palpable feeling of community in a tranquil setting. Residents do not want a replica of, for instance, the commercial development of Algonquin or Crystal Lake.
Would/can/should local governments do anything to help reduce the tax burden on residents?
I am in favor of property tax reduction here in the state of Illinois. Property taxes are, quite obviously, high compared to surrounding states and need to come down. I think there is a way to reduce property taxes without cutting social services or monies for essential institutions or public pensions. I think there is a good amount of governmental waste in regard to the amount of highly-salaried administrators employed by cities and towns as well as the state. These jobs could be cut. Additionally, the State of Illinois should be taxing the top 5-10% of income earners at a much higher rate than the state currently does. Being part of a community requires that people indeed contribute to their community.
Do you support recreational marijuana being sold in your community to help lower residents’ tax burden?
I have very mixed feelings about the sale of recreational marijuana. While I do not think that the use or possession of marijuana should necessarily be punishable by fines or imprisonment, I do not really think its use should be encouraged either. Evidence suggests that the use of psychotropic substances like cannabis can be, both in the short and long term, detrimental to cognitive function and lead to memory impairment and even increased anxiety in some people.
What projects or infrastructure would you look to address in your community and how would you do it?
In Woodstock, the roads are a primary concern...a very high concern. Prior and current administrations have been negligent in their responsibility regarding repaving and properly maintaining roads...and roads are essential to a city’s functioning. As well, updating and repairing public buildings like the Woodstock Recreation Center should also be a high priority. Other things have fallen into disrepair lately, such as the outdoor tennis courts throughout the city, and I wonder why Woodstock policymakers are more focused on building new attractions than on maintaining existing infrastructure.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
If I did not accept the voters’ decision, I suppose we wouldn’t be living in a democracy…
What is your position on open, transparent government?
We should have a bit more of that.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
Yes, absolutely, and in all circumstances...
Would you sign a nondisclosure agreement with a prospective company that would limit your ability to communicate with your community?
No, I would not.