Steven Mandel: Candidate Profile
Lake County board District 11
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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.
City: Highland Park
Office sought: Lake County board District 11
Family: Married to my wife Linda for 30 years, 2 boys
Occupation: IATSE Local#2 Stagehand Master Electrician and Master Sound Technician
Education: Attended Southern Illinois University- Aviation Apprenticeship Programs at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Shubert Theater, Blackstone Theater. Attended George Meany Institute of Labor.
Civic involvement: Sierra Club, HP Historical Society, LWV, Ravinia Neighbors Association, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Past Board Member of The Opera Studio, Past Board Member of the Highland Park Conservation Society, Central Ave Synagogue HP.
Elected offices held: Councilman, City of Highland Park 1993-present. Elected to five terms. Currently Mayor pro tem of the City Council.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: NO
Key Issue 1
Fiscal Responsibility- I want to use my municipal experience to work in county government to find ways of sharing assets with other governments to increase efficiencies and reduce costs for our citizens and taxpayers. Illinois has many times more governments than other states. We need to reorganize and change the model so we can use a best practice governance model for providing any given service to our citizens. There is no question state government needs to play a role any new model and I believe our legislators are willing to move to consolidate and share operations regionally. I am also eager to learn more about the LCFPD and County Governments to see if there is more to do within our current authorities. I am not shy about asking questions and digging into these issues. Very excited to hear and learn more about County Government so I can have a better basis to act. I am not a cut, cut, cut, tea party guy. Many services need to be provided from our County government and will not put citizens or the corporation in jeopardy just to cut taxes and fees. On the other hand I am confident that we can find efficiencies, share service delivery and operations to save money and maybe even provide better opportunities for our citizens. I really look forward to this challenge...
Key Issue 2
Sustainability- As someone who initiated and co-wrote the City Tree preservation ordinance and promoted pay as you throw garbage collection in the 90's, we need to do more to demonstrate sustainable practices in our county. College of Lake County and the County administration has done great work in this field but there is much more to do. As the Swalco Director from Highland Park, I am proud to be working on solid waste issues with county administrators, mayors, trustees, and councilman. As a County Board member I would continue to push to promote increase recycling, composting, and reuse of materials to reduce the addition of garbage to our two landfills. Buying a fully electric no-gasoline car in March, I have realized the cost savings and appreciate the Zero emissions from my transportation. Government needs to get our employees, shoppers, and citizens to move away from imported oil and provide charging stations and incentives to change. Lake Michigan is of the most importance for our survival and we need to focus more on its sustainability. As when I was the past Chairman of the Lake Michigan Watershed Ecosystem Partnership we need to continue to work state and federal agencies to fully participate in grants and the decision making process of the Great Lakes planning and implementation. Economic, recreational, and transportational opportunities should be discussed and planned. Citizens need to be aware of this body of water and responsive to its needs. We need to also further the opportunities of this shoreline. Waukegan is a great opportunity and should not continue to sit idle. Open Space and the LCFPD has always been close to my heart since I got involved with supporting those efforts in late 80's. Before tax cap I walked the streets in Zion, Libertyville, Deerfield, and Highland Park gathering petitions to convince our 1980's Commissioners to put out an 80 million dollar bond and buy open space. After many years of great work by the LCFPD, I think to continue is very important to our quality of life in Lake County. The Open Land / Natural countryside is an important element to maintain in Lake County and I will look for partnerships and funding sources to continue to make strides. Places for people to learn, recreate, and appreciate our environment is very important and would be proud to promote those efforts.
Key Issue 3
Governance-In County government there are many issues on the horizon for the new County Board and the LCFPD to focus on. Housing, health issues, and generally continuing to help those in need are very important and I will be responsive to promoting policy that brings results. Economic development and Jobs is very important and look forward to growing revenues to reduce the burden on the property taxpayers. In Highland Park we have been very successful in importing dollars through auto sales, a thriving downtown, and creating partnerships with our business leaders. Fairness of spreading the resources of the County and LCFPD throughout all of the people is also a strong priority to me. In Southeast Lake County some have said we are "Donors". While our the City of Highland Park has taken only 6.5 % of the taxpayers revenue, the County and LCFPD enjoys over 10% of our property tax money collected. Do we get a fair return for our money? If elected, I will dig into this issue and promote fairness so everybody in Lake County is treated fairly. The jails, courthouse, Winchester house
Now that golf at Fort Sheridan is a dead issue, what types of amenities should be added to the site?
Golf might be dead but the commitment of $$'s and the shared spirit of the reuse of Fort Sheridan should be a basis for the new preserve. To assure the quiet peace and enjoyment of the neighborhood, the historic character and tribute to our soldiers, and the passive quiet nature of any recreational use. I have suggested moving forward as the partners we had been during the 1990's when this development deal was put together. We need to respect and honor the commitment to the communities of Highland Park, Highwood, Lake Forest, and especially the residents of the Town of Fort Sheridan. So, adequate parking and direct access off of Sheridan Road that does adversely impact the residents is a priority. While the golf course would have not created tremendous traffic flow and parking needs, we must be aware that a beautiful preserve and beach access will create more use. Trails to walk, benches to sit and enjoy, and educational kiosks to inform should be done with the dominance of the area to be restored as natural habitat. Adequate parking needs have to be addressed so Lake County residents do not interfere with the residents. The parade ground should be kept open, free, and clear in respect of our heritage and soldiers. For specifics we need to provide the resident association a special seat a strong voice in the new preserve process since the promised golf course was stripped from their equity. I have proposed that the LCFPD work with the City of Highland Park, Openlands, and the Park District of Highland Park to help acquire the open lands South of the development and East of Patton Road. This would provide much needed tableland to Openlands Lakeshore Preserve and model a great partnership where the burden of maintenance and some capitol costs be shared with other governments. This acquisition would provide contiguous public access (Openlands and LCFPD) and much needed tableland along the entire lake front of Fort Sheridan. We should not look at the Openlands Lake Shore Preserve and the LCFPD lakefront as segregated programs but rather one open public opportunity to create a better result for our County.
What, if any, new ethics-related rules are needed for the county board and county staff?
Having reviewed the amended Ethics ordinances of 2011, written in 2004, I believe it has merit and promotes proper governance at the County level. Review on a five year basis is proper and should always strive for best practice. Being sure politics stays out of hiring, purchasing, and contracts is imperative to a good system. I am a big supporter of managerial governance, keeping politics out of operations of government, and have no further ethics suggestions at this time.
Government transparency has been an important issue in recent years. Name one thing the county government or forest preserve district should do to improve transparency.
Lake County has done an excellent job with transparency. While there is great county government coverage about issues on LCTV, in Highland Park we have included some committee meetings as part of our telecast. It depends on how the members feel about this as this form of transparency should not stifle discussion. It has not in Highland Park in my opinion. That is the one issue but the publication of salaries is another thought that could be incorporated in a transparency format.
Should the forest district use eminent domain to acquire the land needed for the final link in the Des Plaines River Trail? Why or why not? If your answer is no, how should officials go about acquiring that land sooner than later?
Having been opposed to a quick take issue in Highland Park over the development of commercial property I have thought about what is required for eminent domain. It is something that should only be used at last resort and for a purpose so important that it trumps the property rights of an individual. In this case I would oppose the immediate use of eminent domain to acquire this land and continue to negotiate for purchase or exchange to complete the trail. Sometimes while you would like it sooner one must wait until later. This issue has not met the bar for me to take someone's property.
What will be the biggest issue facing the county over the next decade, and how do you propose dealing with it?
The biggest issue over the next decade will be the slow growth of revenue sources and our economy while facing the increased cost of operations. New models of government need to be invented in our region. While I express my thoughts in Campaign issue one, the State will need to play a major role in this model but the County could be a big player in regionalizing services for our citizenry.
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