The Northfield Village Caucus wants to hear from all residents for the first time in a long time.
For the first time in 12 years, the caucus has released a community-wide survey to gauge residents’ opinions on ongoing community issues, including “bringing new, walkable shopping and restaurants to the Village Square; flood control; and the size of teardown residential construction projects,” according to a press release from the Northfield Village Caucus press release.
The survey is available online at the caucus website and is open through August.
The caucus is a nonpartisan group composed of Northfield residents whose mission is to represent the views of the community on issues related to village government. The organization uses resident feedback to develop a platform and recommend candidates for the Village Board of Trustees.
Caucus Chair Beverly Smith told The Record that the survey helps the caucus gain a better understanding of the issues pertinent to residents so the group to better inform its decisions.
She said the caucus hopes to get 600 survey responses.
“This is much more important than ‘how did we service your car?’” Smith said. “Because we want to provide information to the trustees and then the caucus so that when we interview candidates, we know what’s on the minds of the residents.”
Although Northfield’s bylaws mandate that the caucus send out this survey every eight years, it has not been distributed in 12. Caucus leadership is unsure why a survey has not been released recently, but Smith said the caucus began working on this version a year ago.
Michael Cohen, the caucus member in charge of the oversight committee and technology, created the online survey tool and is responsible for organizing the results and periodically sending them to the caucus.
He said the caucus has implemented a “grassroots campaign” to increase survey participation, such as passing out flyers and using word of mouth.
Along with questions about local commerce, flooding and construction work, the survey features an open-ended question for residents to provide additional comments about issues not reflected in the survey, Smith said.
Cohen said that so far residents have used the open field to weigh in about the town’s walkability, its downtown and businesses, and civic engagement.
He said that attending village meetings and even filling out the survey is one way to get involved in civic affairs.
Smith said that filling out the survey will not only help the caucus and the village government but it will benefit the residents as well.
“I’ve been in village government since 1980 and been to maybe 1,000 hearings, and I’m always grateful to see the creative things that our residents can offer at these hearings,” Smith said. “I find people are the experts on their neighborhood, but we’re talking about the whole village, so we really are trying to get a sense of what’s on the minds of the people of Northfield.”
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Rosie Newmark is a 2023 Record intern and an incoming senior studying journalism and history at Northwestern University. Rosie has written for multiple campus publications in addition to the Hyde Park Herald and American Libraries Magazine.