Candidate profile: Andrew J. Lopinot

Andrew J. Lopinot
Andrew J. Lopinot

Name: Andrew J. Lopinot

Age: 30

Family: His parents, Vince and Connie Lopinot; Lucy Lopinot and Lindsey Mills.

Town: O’Fallon

Office Seeking: Alderman Ward 5

Occupation: Academic advisor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Previous Offices: None

Why I am running: O’Fallon has seen tremendous growth over the past 25 years and our ward/city will continue to grow with the addition of new businesses and homes. O’Fallon is my home, I love this city, and I want to be a part of shaping the community for future generations. During this time of growth, our residents need someone present in the community, listening to what the city needs and taking action to make those needs a reality. I want to be a voice and resource for the residents of ward 5 and help the community continue to flourish. Since moving to O’Fallon, I have not been contacted in person, over the phone or by mail by any of my aldermen or alderwomen. The residents I have met with over the last few months have echoed this same experience. It is important for our representatives to be reaching out to residents to encourage open communication and create opportunities to hear the concerns of our residents directly. As your alderman, I intend to do just that.

What is the most important issues facing the city of O’Fallon? How would you approach it? During this time of growth in our city, I think communication is the key issue O’Fallon faces. Communication with residents, as well as communication with community partners and other taxing bodies, is crucial in making sure the needs of our residents are being met. It is clear the citizens of O’Fallon want their elected representatives to be able to work with each other to help the city grow and continue to prosper. I will work with other aldermen to reach out to our community groups to address city-wide issues. I am also promising to reach out to every resident in my ward at least once a year to ensure they have an opportunity to hear directly from their alderman, not just during an election season.

If you were writing a job description for the position you’re seeking, what would it say? An O’Fallon alderman serves as a representative for the citizens that live in his or her ward. Aldermen work with other city council members and community members to better the community. While serving on the city council, aldermen pass resolutions and ordinances that impact taxes, city services, and contracts with private businesses.

How would you keep costs down or reduce costs in your municipality? I would work closely with our finance director and city administrator to review proposed budgets and make sure proposed expenses will be within projected revenues for the fiscal year. As I have been knocking on doors, I regularly hear the concerns of citizens who are tired of consistently being asked to pay a little more in taxes, no matter how small an increase. We have to live within our means and make common sense decisions for the city. We also need to work with and listen to other taxing bodies before thoughtfully considering any type of tax increase. An issue cities often face is whether to use Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to help redevelop an area. TIF districts can result in taxing bodies having to increase the amount they levy if their projected future revenues are cut short as a result of the TIF. As such, I think every TIF should be cautiously reviewed and discussed before implementation, and I would also want to make sure we are reviewing other redevelopment tools such as enterprise zones or other rebate options.

In St. Clair County, there will be votes on two sales tax referendums. Do you support either or both? Why or why not? I support both referendums and think they are important for residents of the community to pay attention. These initiatives will put money directly into O’Fallon schools as well as our city police and fire departments. Our local schools are struggling as the state is late on payments and funding has consistently been reduced from the state and federal government. If the school sales tax referendum passes, money will go to help our local schools pay for building construction and improvements. Among the benefits of the public safety tax referendum is that it would bring in money to help fund local police and fire department enhancements as well as help put more officers on the streets. I am able to get behind this increase because there is an end date and the funds gained from this increase have been allocated very explicitly to benefit the children in our community through the school system and the safety and prosperity of our neighborhoods through our police departments and other public safety entities.

Why should people vote for me? I am ready to be your alderman. I love the City of O’Fallon and want to be an integral part of shaping this city’s future. I will support our growing community and help ensure its safety and vitality for future generations. I have a Master’s in Higher Education Administration and am finishing my work on a master’s in public administration from SIUE, where I currently serve as an academic advisor. My work history includes being a housing manager at a university, where I supervised staff, managed budgets, and worked with community members. My background in higher education administration, along with my education in local government administration, gives me the skills and abilities to help O’Fallon maintain a balanced budget, coordinate with local businesses and organizations, and pass sensible resolutions and ordinances that benefit our community. I consider this to be a job interview, and because of that I have provided my complete resume on my website, www.andrewlopinot.com, for residents to review. I look forward to continuing to meet with residents leading up to and after the election, and I ask that you vote for me on April 4.