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updated: 2/23/2011 4:07 PM

James A. Graves: Candidate Profile

Mount Prospect parks

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  • James A. Graves, running for Mount Prospect parks

    James A. Graves, running for Mount Prospect parks




Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Mount Prospect

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Mount Prospect parks

Age: 70

Family: Married to Judy. 3 children: Julie (Naperville), Peter (Wauconda), Katie (Boston). 6 grandchildren (Andrew, Isabel, Charlie, Gabriel, Alyssa, William).

Occupation: Retired (Vice President, JP Morgan).

Education: BS, Biology, Carleton College; MBA, Finance, Northwestern University Kellogg School

Civic involvement: Mt. Prospect Park District Golf Advisory Committee 1966 - Present; Mt. Prospect Park District Future Directions Committee 1990 - 1994; Mt. Prospect Parks Foundation 2000 - Present; Director and Treasurer Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust 1992 - Present; Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust Finance Committee; Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust Development Committee; Director Carleton College Alumni Annual Fund Board 1988 - 2003

Elected offices held: Mt.Prospect Park District Commissioner 5/95 - Present (President, Vice President, Secretary)

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Continued fiscal responsibilty and success in meeting the needs of the maximum number of residents.

Key Issue 2

Improvements to the O'hare CUP site.

Key Issue 3

Maintenance of existing facilities.

Questions & Answers

What programs aren't paying for themselves? Would you keep, eliminate or change them? How and why?

This issue is under constant review and our offerings and programs regularly change in response to our findings. We frequently add, subtract and improve the effectiveness of our programs as called for. We attempt to run our programs at least on a break-even basis and have done an extremely effective job of this as proven by our consistent record of annual balanced budgets and maintenance of high reserves.

Is there any additional open space the park district needs to acquire? Please describe.

The District falls well below the current standard for park land/facilities for the population served and has fewer full-time employees than in 1980 despite growing by over 1/3 during the same period. There are very few, if any, areas left in the community available to the District for expansion. However we are always looking for opportunities and in the last several years have been able to acquire property which will allow us to consolidate our storage and maintenance facilities and lead to operating cost savings. We have also acquired the Kolpin property at Friendship which will add classrooms to compliment the conservatory.

Are there any unmet recreational needs? If yes, what are they and how would you propose paying for them? Or, should they wait until the economy improves?

As with programs addressed in Question 1, this issue is under constant review and our offerings regularly change in response to our findings. The current economic climate has severely restricted our ability to implement substantive change but we do not see any major meaningful shortcomings in the immediate future. We have done a very effective job of keeping our financial standing and currently maintain a AA bond rating.

Would you support sharing/pooling resources (i.e. printing, vehicles) with other local governments (school districts, village, etc.)? If so, what areas would you consider combining or merging to save money or improve efficiency?

I strongly support the concept in general and there are numerous examples of successes that have already been implemented: e.g. shared use of facilities by Park District and schools; youth program athletic and arts support and facility use. Also the unique partnership between the Mt. Prospect, River Trails and Prospect Heights Park Districts was established as an innovative way to address this problem in a cost-effective manner. We also share rooms, fields, parks & staff with SD 57, 59, and 214 as well as sharing specialty vehicles and equipment with other park districts and the village. We are currently working with 214 on their desire to have an artificial turf athletic field.

If you are a newcomer, what prompted you to run for the park board? If you're an incumbent, list your accomplishments or key initiatives in which you played a leadership role.

I have provided leadership contributing to open debate and increased input from staff and the public. The District has been able to expand programs and make facility improvements through user revenue increases while tax rate increases have been held below inflation or declined. Since being on the board we have upgraded all parks, built a new greenhouse, paid off RecPlex, acquired land and built a new park and nature center at Hill Street (with the aid of a government grant), acquired the O'Hare Cup Site (for $1/year), took ownership of the Veterans Memorial Bandshell, acquired and built out the CCC facility, rebuilt Meadows Pool, which won the 2004 IPRA Outstanding Facility Award, received 11 Certificates for Excellence in Financial Reporting, rebuilt the MPGC Clubhouse, acquired new property at Friendship Conservatory, acquired and built out a new maintenance garage, and entered into a programming partnership with Prospect Heights and River Trails Park Districts - with virtually no increase in our resident's taxes.