Full Name: Ellen Brady
What office are you seeking? Crystal Lake City Council Member
What is your political party? Not Applicable
What is your current age? 59
Occupation and Employer: Paralegal - Law Offices of Bush & Brady
What offices, if any, have you previously held? Crystal Lake City Council 1999 to 2023
Crystal Lake Zoning Board 1997 to 1999
Crystal Lake Airport Advisory Committee 1996 to 1998
City: Crystal Lake
Campaign Website: www.ellenbradycrystallakecitycouncil.com
Education: Paralegal Degree
Community involvement: McHenry County Council of Governments
Crystal Lake Rowing Club Board of Directors
Crystal Lake Cardboard Cup Regatta
McHenry County College Paralegal Association President
Many other organizations through church, schools, sports, and scouting.
Marital status/Immediate family: I have 3 grown children - Brigitte, Erich and Maggie and 2 grandchildren - Adalee and Zach
Why are you running for office?
I have had the honor of serving the people of Crystal Lake for the last 24 years as a member of the City Council. I have lived in Crystal Lake my entire life and have raised my family here and I want to ensure that Crystal Lake continues remains a great place to live and raise a family. I have great pride in my community. I bring integrity, dedication, and passion to the City Council. I want to continue to serve the people of Crystal Lake and make certain that Crystal Lake remains “A Good Place to Live.”
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
I have been a member of the Crystal Lake City Council for the past 24 years. As a member of the City Council, I have played an integral role in ensuring that Crystal Lake is accountable to its citizens by always maintaining a balanced budget and stable economic environment. I understand that every dollar counts to the citizens Crystal Lake. I will continue to serve the residents of Crystal Lake with honesty and integrity. I have a solid understanding of the role of the City Council member and will continue to listen to the people to make sure that the common vision is achieved.
What is your position on the Illinois weapons ban that took effect in January 2023?
Each time that I have been sworn into office I have taken an oath to uphold the United States Constitution and laws of the State of Illinois. The City of Crystal Lake’s role is to enforce laws not to interpret them or to interject their personal feelings and bias into how any law is enforced. I like everyone else am closely watching the court cases surrounding this issue and anxiously awaiting the results. Regardless of the outcome I will continue to uphold my sworn oath.
Is crime a problem in your community and, if so, what would you do to curb it?
According to the Illinois State Police Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, Crystal Lake has had a decrease of approximately 65.17% in total reported index crimes from 2007 to 2022. Crystal Lake is a safe place to live. Crystal Lake has always taken the prevention of crime very seriously. We have been proactive in the training of our police force to make certain that our residents and businesses are safe. We have also always ensured that our police department is properly funded and staffed and that they have access to training opportunities and are provided with top notch equipment to assist them in doing their job of protecting the citizens of Crystal Lake while providing for their protection in carry out their duties.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
Crystal Lake did a fantastic job of easing some of the burden faced by local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Crystal Lake applied for and received federal and state grants to provide relief to the impacted businesses. Crystal Lake received over $600,000 in grants that were passed onto local businesses to help them make the necessary improvements to their businesses so that they could continue to serve their customers during the pandemic.
Crystal Lake also made funds available to restaurants through the Outdoor Seating Grant program that provided funds to expand their outdoor seating areas allowing them to continue to serve diners in a safe manner providing for the reopening of businesses or the expansion of services as quickly and as safely as possible.
Upon vaccinations being made available Crystal Lake worked tirelessly with McHenry County Public Health Department to provide possible site location within Crystal Lake. Once the Public Health Department had the necessary information a site was selected in Crystal Lake so that the vaccines were more convenient and readily available to Crystal Lake residents.
Crystal Lake also kept its citizens appraised of important information regarding the pandemic by providing extensive reliable factual information about the pandemic on its website and in its newsletter.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
I learned that nothing should be taken for granted. I was reminded of how precious my family is and how important it is to slow down and just appreciate what you have. Spending quality time with my family has become a priority for me. I also learned a whole new way to communicate using online platforms like Zoom. I learned to use other technology that allowed me to order groceries and have them delivered and make purchases online and pick them up at the store without ever getting out of my car. These services are here to stay and are great time savers that allow me more time with my family.
How would you spur economic development in your community?
Crystal Lake offers numerous opportunities for new development as well as redevelopment. Crystal lake has 3,791 local businesses that employ over 27,000 people. I have and will continue to support our Community Development Department that has worked to provide nationwide marketing and branding for Crystal Lake. They promote Crystal Lake locally, regionally and nationally. As a result, Crystal Lake has and continues to welcome national and local brands to our community. Local businesses are especially strong, and our downtown business district maintains a 99% occupancy rate. Despite the pandemic Crystal Lake has maintained a stable economic environment and sales tax receipts have exceeded pre-pandemic levels. According to the Illinois Department of Revenue Crystal Lake had retail sales in 2022 of over $1.3 billion dollars providing Crystal Lake with $1,350,000 in sales tax revenue.
Would/can/should local governments do anything to help reduce the tax burden on residents?
Crystal Lake has one on the lowest tax rates in McHenry County. Crystal Lake is committed to attracting and maintaining retail businesses. Crystal Lake will collect over $14,000,000 in sales tax revenue this year that will be used to fund the services provided by Crystal Lake without reaching into the pockets of the Crystal Lake residents to pay for them. My goal is to continue to encourage business growth, a balanced budget and the lowest possible tax burden for our citizens while continuing to maintain the quality city services for our residents.
Do you support recreational marijuana being sold in your community to help lower residents’ tax burden?
Crystal Lake opted to participate in the market when the State legalized recreational marijuana. The sale of marijuana is now legal. So long as the sale of marijuana can be done without jeopardizing or minimizing the aesthetics of the area and the safety of our citizens and not increase the need for city services why would we not want to reap the tax benefits for our citizens? If we banned the sale, we would be doing a disservice to our residents by letting our neighboring communities capitalize on this revenue source. The first cannabis dispensary opened in Crystal Lake a few weeks ago and just like every other business that comes to Crystal Lake it was subject to our comprehensive approach to ensure quality development.
What projects or infrastructure would you look to address in your community and how would you do it?
Three Oaks Recreation Area attracts over 70,000 visitors annually to our community. It is an amenity that I am extremely proud of my role in the planning, building and continued operation. We are continually working to improve the park by adding new elements like a path around the entire south lake to make Three Oaks even more enjoyable. These improvements are included in the annual budget to ensure that the funding is available. I would like to continue the development and enhancement of this resource for our citizens.
Crystal Lake recently completed an assessment of the downtown. I support the many improvements that are planned that will provide a sense of place and community, with more outdoor seating and a reconfiguration of the Veterans Memorial Park by adding more public gathering places.
I will continue to support the protection of our water supply by investing in our deep wells and our water treatment plants.
Another project that is important to me is the replacement of the lead water service lines to ensure that every home has safe water. The replacement of these lines is mandated by the State of Illinois and Crystal Lake will need to implement a plan on how this replacement will take place and ensure that we receive the maximum in grant funding to pay for it.
The re-establishment of Crystal Creek is another project that is in the initial stages that I support. By taking the creek out of an undersized storm sewer and bringing the creek to the surface it will reduce flooding and improve storm water quality.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
What is your position on open, transparent government?
I support an open transparent government. All business conducted by the Crystal Lake City Council is done in the presence of the public. We have for over 25 years televised our meetings live and replayed them on the local cable access channel and they are now available to be live streamed on You-Tube. The meeting packet is also made available to the public on our website prior to the meeting. I encourage all citizens to attend City Council meetings and become involved and aware of the workings and decisions made to improve the lives of our citizens.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
Absolutely. I believe in the transparency of government. The City provides a comprehensive website where many questions can be answered but if the information is not available through our website, I fully support whole heartedly the public’s right to obtain information through FOIA.
Would you sign a nondisclosure agreement with a prospective company that would limit your ability to communicate with your community?
The law allows government agencies to sign nondisclosure agreements when they relate to trade secrets or business or commercial finances. A business exploring its opportunities in Crystal Lake should not be penalized by their negotiations becoming public. So, if a nondisclosure agreement for a limited time and purpose was necessary to investigate and negotiate for the betterment of the community, I would support its limited use. However, in the end all approvals of any projects or purchases are approved in a public meeting of the City Council.