HIGHLAND PARK – The Democratic incumbents will battle the Republican candidates for seats on the Moraine Township Board at the April 4 election.
Currently, Moraine Township has a Democratic slate comprised of Anne Flanigan Bassi, supervisor, Gail Feiger Brown, clerk, and trustees: Pablo Alvarez, Dwayne Douglas, Cindy Wolfson and Amy Zisook.
David Scott Greenberg, supervisor, and Martin Zeidman, clerk, are the Republican challengers along with trustees: Laura Lambrecht, Joshua Lidawer, Margaret Siebert and Rebecca Zeidman.
Martin Zeidman said he and his wife Rebecca Zeidman have been married for 12 years.
Cynthia Plouché has been the Democratic Assessor for Moraine Township since 2013, and she is the only candidate who is unopposed.
DailyNorthShore asked all of the incumbents and candidates the following questions:
What are your qualifications?
What do you think is the most important issue?
What changes, if any, would you make to the food pantry?
Pablo Alvarez, Trustee (D)
I have chaired Moraine Township’s Latino Advisory Committee for the last four years, and worked as a counselor at Highland Park High School (HPHS) for the last eight years, earning the trust of students and families in the community in both roles. The relationships I have developed with many community agencies and organizations has provided me with a deep understanding of the community and needs of our residents.
The important issue facing Moraine Township is to continue to evolve and be responsive to the needs of residents. It is important that Moraine be visible and continue to collaborate with schools and community agencies so that our residents can benefit during a time of need.
As chair of the Latino Advisory Committee, I have seen first-hand how the food pantry has evolved to include fresh vegetables, fruit, and meats, and we need to continue in the same manner. In addition, outreach to the schools has resulted in weekend backpack programs for students and food during school breaks to provide food for students when school is out.
Anne Flanigan Bassi, Supervisor (D)
My public service includes: four years as Moraine Township Supervisor, 10 years on the Lake County Board and Lake County Forest Preserve Commission, and numerous other county, regional and local boards. Awards include the 2014 HP Humanitarian of the Year Award and 2013 Lake County Affordable Housing Leadership Award. I am a Licensed CPA with a Masters in Taxation.
In the last four years, we reduced the township tax levy by nine percent and reduced elected officials’ compensation by almost 30 percent while expanding services. Our staff delivered over 17,000 resident-services in the last fiscal year including general and emergency assistance, operating two paratransit vans for seniors and disabled residents, managing two cemeteries and assisting eligible residents in accessing income-qualified benefits.
Significant changes include enlisting and organizing the help of area grocers and the efforts of 30 to 40 weekly volunteers to add produce, eggs, and cheese to self-stable food.
Gail Feiger Brown, Clerk (D)
I have served as Moraine Township Clerk for four years, maintaining township records and documents, FOIA requests, board secretary and local election authority. I represent the township at the Highland Park Human Relations Commission and the Community Family Center. I have had over 20 plus years of leadership in the League of Women Voters and serve on the Board of Directors of the Highland Park-Highwood Legal Aid Clinic.
It is important to expand our visibility and outreach to ensure that more of our residents are aware of township services for which they may be eligible.
I would continue to build on our collaboration with the elementary and high schools, and other local groups, to ensure that none of our students go hungry, both on school days and vacations.
Dwayne Douglas, Trustee (D)
I have served as Moraine Township Trustee since 2009, as Ethics Advisor, liaison to the Grant Committee and the Latino Advisory Committee. A practicing attorney for 26 years, I received an award from the Lake County Bar for my service to the indigent.
The township has managed to increase services while cutting our salaries and our tax levy. We are always looking for new ways to become more efficient while providing the best service to the most vulnerable residents of Moraine Township. Our work with other government entities, schools and agencies enable us to identify and respond to the needs of our residents.
We will continue to expand the offerings of our summer Community Garden and to seek new ways to reach out to families in need of fresh and nutritious food.
Cindy Wolfson, Trustee (D)
I have served as Moraine Township Trustee for four years, representing the township on the Senior Services Task Force and the Lake County Domestic Violence Council. I oversee the two cemeteries managed by township and coordinate the annual fundraiser in partnership with Sunset Foods that benefits the Food Pantry.
The social safety net provided by township is crucial to the well-being of our community, especially while the state and federal funding fails to meet demand. Our creative use of volunteers helps us achieve our mission in a fiscally responsible manner.
We are always looking for ways to improve and expand the variety of our food offerings, working with several local grocery stores and the Northern Illinois Food Bank. We are thankful for our committed volunteers, who continue to provide transportation to bring our clients fresh produce.
Amy Zisook, Trustee (D)
I have served as Trustee for four years, working on efforts to address food insecurity, particularly in families with school aged children and on our outstanding Door-to Door Van Service for seniors and disabled residents. My professional experience in business and government as Vice President of Chicago Board Options Exchange, Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton, principal of Amy Zisook and Associates, and lifelong involvement in our community, inform my work.
I will continue to serve our residents and be accountable in all aspects of township government. My focus will be on ensuring that efforts to reduce food insecurity are sustainable, and further identifying and reaching out to seniors and residents with disabilities to use our van service.
I am proud of the work we’ve done to expand healthy offerings of fresh produce and dairy to the pantry. We continually work to provide food that is healthy, nutritious and appealing to our clients. Our community is enormously generous in helping us to accomplish this.
David Scott Greenberg, Supervisor (R)
As a 38-year resident of Highland Park, a graduate of HPHS, a multiple degree holder (BSCS, MBA), Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and life-long learner who pursues excellence, I am intimately familiar with and support our community-wide desire to assist those in need. I understand the requirements and demands of the position, the particulars of creating and managing multi-million dollar budgets, and have the necessary experience in business, education, and technology.
There are several important issues. I want the township to become more accountable to the taxpayers, to consolidate operations where it will enable the township to become more effective and efficient in providing services, and to operate in a transparent manner, so the taxpayers are aware of how and why their money is being spent.
The food pantry provides an important service and from the information I’ve seen, is not being operated in the most efficient manner possible. I want to ensure that less food is thrown out, and that our operations are the most effective possible.
Laura Lambrecht, Trustee (R)
I’ve been working in Fortune 10 companies for 19 years. I work in IT in cloud technologies and I’m good at finding efficiencies. I’m trained in Six Sigma & Agile process methodology to find the best, most efficient path forward. I’m successful in my work place (and at home) for finding what we need at minimal cost. At one point in my life I was a client of the township. I was grateful for the helping hand to help get us on our feet.
The current administration overpaid for a building with inadequate parking for staff and clients and is known for frequent fender benders.
I believe we need to take stock of what we have and then tweak it if needed. The township is more than a food pantry. They help people with other needs which include: filling out disability forms, completing taxes, etc.
Joshua Lidawer, Trustee (R)
My main qualification for being a Moraine Township Trustee would be that I’m a resident of Moraine Township. The Moraine Township website calls township government a “true grassroots Democratic experience,” and unfortunately, young residents are very underrepresented within this level of government.
The most important issue to me would be working on consolidating the Moraine Township Government with other levels of local government as has begun in other counties. This has saved other areas millions of dollars and allowed increased services to be provided.
Regarding the food pantry, one change I’d like to see happen is a partnership with District 112 and District 113 to make sure that all children who may need it have easy access to items from the food pantry and no child goes hungry in our community.
Margaret Siebert, Trustee (R) could not be reached for comment.
Martin Zeidman, Clerk (R)
I was elected Moraine Township Precinct Committeeman and currently serve as its Chairman. I am a licensed CPA with a Master’s of Science in Taxation and have nearly 20 years of tax experience. I currently work as the Director of Taxes at a manufacturing company, where I am responsible for overseeing all income, sales, and property taxes.
I feel that it’s important for Moraine Township to collaborate with neighboring townships to offer better service at a reduced cost to the taxpayers. This can be done by avoiding the duplication of resources and taking advantage of economies of scale through volume negotiating and purchasing.
I would like the food pantry to offer a larger variety of food and see less food go to waste. I am also concerned that the new location of Moraine Township will be unable to handle the individuals accessing the food pantry due to insufficient parking. I would like Moraine Township to collaborate with neighboring townships and decide on a centralized location for a food pantry that can accommodate more parking and hold a larger variety of food.
Rebecca Zeidman, Trustee (R)
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and currently work as a Qualified Intellectual Disability Professional at an agency that assists individuals with developmental disabilities.
It is important that the township is transparent to all members of the community, so that everyone has a voice in expressing what resources are needed and how best to make them accessible.
I would work to combine a food pantry from a neighboring township to allow for more items to be provided and make it in an easily accessible place for everyone within the community.
Early voting began March 20 and will continue through April 3 at the Highland Park Police Station.