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updated: 2/23/2011 3:55 PM

Nicholas Helmer: Candidate Profile

Prospect Heights Mayor

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  • Nicholas Helmer, running for Prospect Heights Mayor

    Nicholas Helmer, running for Prospect Heights Mayor




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: Prospect Heights


Office sought: Prospect Heights Mayor

Age: 68

Family: Married, two children, 4 grandchildren living in Prospect Heights

Occupation: Real estate developer, construction, rehab, sales and management with the same company for over forty years

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Business Communications, Loyola

University, Chicago, 1975

Civic involvement: Director, Chicago Executive Airport; precinct captain in the City of Prospect Heights; member, City Water Committee; member, Maine Street Organization of Realtors; the National Association of Realtors; Northern Illinois Home Builders Association; past president and member of the Institute of Real Estate Management; member Palwaukee Pilot's Association; basketball coach at St. Viator High School, 21 years; coach at all levels of baseball, football and basketball at the Lions Park District, Mt. Prospect

Elected offices held: CEO, Inland Great Lakes; President, the Institute of Real Estate Management; President, the Chicago West Side Real Estate Board; Director, Palwaukee Pilot's Association; Director, the Chicago Board of Realtors; Director Chicago Executive Airport

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

To to bring our city into the 21st century. The divisive Blame Game must end and new leadership must set lofty future goals and make achievable plans to lead us into the future.

Key Issue 2

Economic Development with incentives for new businesses to come to our city.

Key Issue 3

Full time police protection for our elderly and families with safe streets, good schools and good, achievable goals for the future.

Questions & Answers

Where do you stand on Prospect Heights water ? Should all the city be on lake water; if so, how quickly and by what process? If not, explain your reasoning.

I serve as a committee member on the city's Water Committee. There has been a plan on the city's books for several years that looks at the costs and needs for proper fire protection, clean and safe water to drink and gives the citizens the option of hooking up to a main line system, keeping their private wells or both. Not even the Water Committee is officially allowed to guide their efforts. Sixty percent of the city now has lake water while 40% does not. Clean water is an inherent right. Until all that changes, the citizens are trying to buy their own systems through Special Services Area funding with repayment via their property tax bills. The overall plan to supply the 40% that do not receive lake water is in place. I believe that given changes in government and attitude at the city level the change to 100% city water can happen in the next 5 to 8 years. Especially if the majority of citizens who watched a four year old child die in a fire, a house burn to the ground where the elderly citizens lost their only two pet companions, and when an elderly man was dragged out of his home (saved only by the quick actions of the then Full force police department) clamor for fire hydrants and participate in city government in a proactive way.

Should Prospect Heights actively try to raise more revenue to run the city, and if so, how? Could the current budget be cut? Where?

First of all many line items in the budget are misallocated. Simply put, the bozo balls must end up in the right buckets before we can proceed. For example, seven police officers were terminated - six duty officers and the police chief. The budget calculates the need for terminating four officers and leaves the other two slot allocated costs on the budget as an expense. Clearly either there was no need to terminate more than four or the money for the two officers should be put back into the income column and used for other purposes. Some of the projected costs are well overstated while others like the stated snow removal overtime costs have already been used up. New revenue must come from new sales tax income. Other sources of funds must come from grants and participatory funds from our state and federal government. There are currently more than 360 fully funded grants available and being doled out. The ""squeaky wheel gets the oil"" shows that. Our neighbor to the south received $3.8 million dollars in this type of aid during 2010 because visiting with our senators and congressmen in Springfield and Washington were on their regular monthly itinerary.

Are you satisfied with the level of staffing in the police department? If not, describe what level of staffing the city should work toward.

When the department was formed some 30 years ago there were 24 sworn officers on staff. Today we have 14. We had a police chief who was very active in grant writing and obtaining large amounts of money from the DEA program. We have a great group of officers now, and luckily, they are dedicated to doing a fine job given the circumstances. We have a qualified superior officer who is currently the ""acting chief"". He should, after having been on the force for more than 18 years, be considered for the Chief's assignment. To bring in a stranger would be a mistake. Given sick days and vacation time the staff of 14 are currently overworked. To create three shifts 7 days a week and contend with the vagaries of health issues and much needed time off, are problems just waiting to happen. They are currently on 12 hour shifts. How long will it take before they get tired and need some time off? Overtime right now is already costing the same money as bringing back the last two officers fired. Why has this not been done?

The political culture in Prospect Hts. is poisonous. How do you, as an elected official, balance the needs and desires of people whose point of view is opposite your own? Or is that impossible?

The problem starts at the top and continues to be fostered every day. On the 4th of July 2009 and 2010 the mayor had two friends drive a large city vehicle fully adorned with campaign signs. paid the fine. This government must change for change to happen. The mayor's office and at least some council members must be changed at the April 5, 2011 election. A new council of business leaders and some of the old guard will bring reasonable and divergent opinions and points of view to the table . Consensus can come from intelligent and informed negotiations. Once consensus is reached by a common sense approach with a willingness to compromise for the best interests of the entire city, positive vibrations and reverberations will dominate the city's landscape. Only the voters themselves can make that happen.

What should the city do for economic development? Should it focus on commercial or industrial? What is the best use of the land formerly meant to hold the arena?

Commercial, industrial and residential development must be the paramount goals for the next 8 years. We cannot continue to allow our wonderful city to slide into the abyss of bankruptcy and failure. Those areas of concentration will create new and lasting jobs and bring new residents to replenish the loss of more than 1,000 residents as shown in the latest census. Not only have people lost their livelihood they have lost their homes and most of all their pride for having chosen Prospect Heights as their home. We must offer professional free counseling to our residents in trouble and help them to regain their pride and sense of values. The vacant land issue must be investigated for the highest and best use for that land and citizens of our city who are knowledgeable and experienced must lead the way. Ideas can range from pocket parks, a senior citizen center or the land could be sold under the TIF plan to industrial or even retail operations or to senior housing and more. No idea should be kicked into a corner; all must be considered. Many of these ideas will be eligible for government funding and will benefit the city in one way or another.