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updated: 2/10/2012 4:19 PM

Steven Leopoldo: Candidate Profile

DuPage Forest Preserve District 3 (Democrat)

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  • Steven Leopoldo, running for DuPage Forest Preserve District 3

    Steven Leopoldo, running for DuPage Forest Preserve District 3




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: Westmont


Office sought: DuPage Forest Preserve District 3

Age: 29

Family: Married, one child.

Occupation: Public opinion researcher.

Education: A.B. - Cum Laude Political Science, Minor Economics, Rollins College, 2004. M.A. Public Administration with Survey Research Methods concentration, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2015 (Expected).

Civic involvement: Vice President of the Villas of Deer Creek Homeowners Association, Precinct Committee Person in Downers Grove Township, member of the League of Conservation Voters, the International Crane Foundation, and The Wilderness Society.

Elected offices held: Vice President of the Villas of Deer Creek Homeowners Association. Precinct Committee Person, Downers Grove Township.

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: Never arrested for or convicted of a crime.

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Environmental Resource Management.

The Board of Commissioners should give the biologists, ecologists and other experts on Preserve staff the respect they deserve.

The District employs dedicated and knowledgeable professionals and decisions should weigh heavily upon their findings concerning environmental resource management. Personal opinions and preferences of Commissioners must not take priority over the proper management of our Preserves.

Forest Preserves are living environments and are under constant threat from improper management. I am particularly concerned about mismanagement of deer populations and invasive species. We cannot afford to let perfect be the enemy of good.

Key Issue 2

Ethics Reform.

DuPage residents want their tax dollars going toward our preserves, not fraud, waste and mismanagement. There are several ethical problems at the FPDDC.

Not bidding contracts less than $20,000 and a questionable interpretation of the Professional Services Act has lead to extreme waste and imprudent behaviors. I propose that contracts over $5,000 be competitively bid and a truly independent ombudsman review all agreements.

I do not feel the District's current attorney can fulfill this requirement due to his substantial donations to Commissioners' political funds and his taxpayer funded legal fee of over four hundred thousand dollars a year.

Fraud recently uncovered at the District's IT department underscores the reason why all outstanding contracts need to be reviewed. Unlike the current part-time commissioners, I will put in the time needed to perform due diligence.

I will not accept campaign contributions from employees of the District or those seeking business with the FPDDC.

The District should embrace transparency by placing public documents online and not lobbying Springfield to make Freedom of Information Act requests more difficult for concerned citizens. I would also move to terminate the District's recent contract with 'Reverse Spin',a politically connected crisis communications/public relations firm that was hired in the wake of the recent contract fraud issue.

Key Issue 3

Eminent Domain.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County must respect the property rights of DuPage citizens and businesses that chose our County to open shop and employ our residents. The District should not abuse their status as a government body and never use eminent domain to forcefully take land for purposes contrary to the core mission of the Preserve (such as spending tens of millions of dollars to take over a privately owned golf course).

Questions & Answers

Do you support continuing the effort to acquire County Lakes Golf Club in Naperville? Why or why not?

I do not support efforts to acquire County Lakes Golf Club in Naperville.

The operation of golf courses is outside of the conservation and restoration mission of the DuPage Forest Preserve. Acquiring a privately run golf course though a costly eminent domain battle does not make financial sense on several grounds. An operational audit conducted at the request of the FPDDC by AECOM Economics and delivered February 2011 showed that only one of the three golf courses has turned a consistent profit in several years. The audit also showed that in 2010, net operating income before debt / capital totaled a loss of over a half million dollars for all three courses combined.

A request to eliminate a position at a District golf course was made at the January 10, 2012 meeting of the Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners due to declining use.

The proposed eminent domain action to take over the privately owned Golf Club has been estimated to cost in excess of $20 million. This is not an appropriate use of funds entrusted to the District.

Should the district be in the golf course business' If so, please explain the benefit. If not, please detail why. Should the district consider selling any of its holdings'

The FPDDC's own audit shows, in financial terms, that it cannot successfully operate golf courses. The audit shows a steadily declining bottom line and their golf courses operated at a net loss of over a half million dollars in 2010.

If this were truly a business, it would soon be bankrupt.

The FPDDC cannot continue to subsidize these courses under the guise of flood control and at a significant loss to taxpayers. There are better means of controlling flooding and managing flood plains.

I would consider several options for the existing golf courses, including their sale to other government entities, such as park districts, or to the private sector.

Comment on the forest preserve's current land acquisition policy: Too aggressive? Too passive? Just right?

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been slow and steady in the acquisition of land. The FPDDC has a unique challenge in the area of land acquisition because most of DuPage's lands are in private hands.

The District should focus on land acquisitions that would connect preserves, provide for trails, and acquire wetlands and land in floodplains.

The current economic situation has created opportunities for the Preserve District to acquire additional lands at significantly reduced costs. Targeted acquisitions today will better prepare DuPage for future economic growth by providing enhanced flood control and a more desirable place to live. Our Preserves enhance DuPage's quality of life, an important consideration of both homebuyers and employers coming to our County. A long-term strategy for the FPDDC's land acquisition will have to include conservation easement agreements, bequests, and working with land and watershed protection organizations like The Conservation Foundation.