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updated: 9/21/2012 4:35 PM

Mary Lou Wehrli: Candidate Profile

DuPage Forest Preserve District 5 (Republican)

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  • Mary Lou Wehrli

    Mary Lou Wehrli




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: Naperville


Office sought: DuPage Forest Preserve District 5

Age: 59

Family: Married to Herb Nadelhoffer.

Occupation: Sales, property management

Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, 1976; University of Illinois, Bachelor of Arts in Television, Columbia College, 1995 Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Academy Citizens Police Academy; Citizens Fire Academy; CERT

Civic involvement: Naperville Parks Foundation Board Greene Farm Citizen Analysis Committee of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County DuPage Neighbors for Open Space, Clean Water & Clean Air Co-Chair - $68M Referendum Passed Naperville Park District Commissioner & President Riverwalk Foundation President Naperville Heritage Society Board KidsMatter Board Rotary Club of Naperville Sunrise Board Westside Home Owners Association President Millennium Carillon Foundation Board Naperville Downtown Plan Steering Committee Member Friends of the Nichols Library Director North Central College Masters in Leadership Studies Advisory Board Naperville Post Office Consumer Advisory Council Member Naperville Sesquicentennial Commission

Elected offices held: Naperville Park District Commissioner, 1999-2005 President Naperville Park District, 2000-2001

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Transparency: I believe that improved transparency will lead to greater trust and respect and lower taxes. Televised, streamed and archived Board Commission and Board Planning meetings. Reduce board meetings to 2 a month, 1 planning at 9am, 1 call commission at 7pm. Full agenda packets available online 3 days prior to meeting, i.e. Friday by 4:30pm for a Tuesday meeting. Technology made available at public meetings for a citizen to present visual aids ? power point, photographs, maps, etc., and eliminate the current requirement to pre-submit visual aid information to the district 3 days prior to a meeting. Public inclusion in strategic planning, project development, and policy review, if appropriate with appointed committees and public forums. Include a place for Citizen Support on the website to Ask a Question, Provide Feedback, Register a Complaint, Submit a Request for Work/Service, and Check the Status of Submitted Questions and Requests. Include a link to Commissioner Voting Record. Administrative staff training to be approachable, welcoming and helpful to public. The financial and ecological story of the landfills in DuPage County should be told.

Key Issue 2

Culture Shift: Exemplify and encourage a forest preserve culture that recognizes it is the board that works for the citizens, the staff that works for the board and that each board member is a steward and champion of the forest preserve. The forest preserve today is in a unique position with no executive director, senior staff departures, attorney shifts, and a mixed message. The next 4 years will be an opportunity to position the forest preserve for the 21st-century. An opportunity to examine current staffing & management practices, to initiate best policies and procedures, and review expenditures as they relate to the mission of the forest preserve. I believe currently the board needs to earn the public?s trust and the trust of each other. I believe it is a fundamental quality of an elected official to be a good communicator, be present and knowledgeable. Encourage the elected team to intimately know their district and generally understand the common goals and opportunities of all districts in the county forest preserve. Support a culture that is inclusive, educational, accessible, deliberative, fresh, timely and responsive. Better align the mission with the actual work the forest preserve district does. Identify and develop appropriate relationships with local entities having a similar mission. Improve operations processes, policies and procedures.

Key Issue 3

Stewardship: The glaciers left DuPage County with abundant natural assets. I believe it is vital that the quality of the county?s forests, prairies, air, rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, marshes, and wetlands continue to be improved. The forest preserve acreage includes a built environment of concrete, asphalt, buildings, landscapes, bridges and trails. These too need stewardship within the context of the forest preserve mission and the values of the citizens. I believe it is important to identify, partner and appropriately connect trails. The financial and ecological story of the landfills in DuPage County should be made clear. I believe a better job can be done in fiscal management.

Questions & Answers

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

Open space preserved for public, natural and environmental benefit is a worthy goal. It must be balanced against the interests of commercial and transportation land uses and tax revenues. Country Lakes Golf Club has a long, complex history because of the lawsuit and recent Supreme Court ruling. I believe the forest preserve has an opportunity to creatively support its mission within the context of its master plan for land acquisition, its funding capabilities and by giving attention to potential partnerships. The question is for what purpose would the 125 acres be acquired? If for a golf course, this is a poorly maintained golf course that would take a large investment to, ahem, bring up to par. See question 2. If the land were acquired as open space it would benefit the overall quality of life for the district and the county. Acquiring it would need to fit with the overall countywide forest preserve plan and budget for land acquisition. If the land were acquired for a combination of open space and recreational uses it would, in my opinion, be appropriate to talk with the Naperville Park District and Fox Valley Park District to explore mutual benefits and responsibilities. For example, it its 2007 Open Space and Recreation Master Plan the Naperville Park District identified Planning Area 1 in which Country Lakes Golf Club lies to be its ?most populous planning area and will experience the highest open space deficiency in the entire Park District based on projections.? page 40. However, the Naperville Park District has addressed many recommendations within its 2007 master plan and may no longer desire land in this area. As an elected commissioner with greater access to forest preserve information and the benefit of fellow commissioner perspectives I will better be able to answer this question. Sidebar: wouldn?t it be great if in your question you could link ?Country Lakes Golf Club? to all Forest Preserve District of DuPage County past agenda items and voting records related to this issue AND DH articles?

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?

Golf courses can complement an objective of preserving open space. DuPage County residents value their heritage and the forest preserve has been a partner in facilities like Mayslake and St. James Farm to name two. I believe DuPage residents also value golf. Golfers are a constituency and I believe golf courses are a fair compromise in preserving open land while accommodating recreation like golf. However, I do not believe taxpayers should subsidize golf courses. Golf operated as an enterprise fund does not expend taxpayer dollars. Golf is currently experiencing a downturn. The economy, weather, and competition have contributed to a diminished revenue stream for local golf courses. In August, forest preserve staff presented the board with a redesign of Oak Meadows Golf Course. It appears to be more environmentally sensitive, however the costs have not been clear. I do not think the forest preserve should sell any of its golf holdings. This is land. If the district is not going to be in the golf course business it should review the value of each course in context with its mission and in balanced partnership with other county interests. See question 3. Sidebar: Wouldn?t it be great if your question could provide a link to the most recent Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Golf Audit Study? and the Oak Meadows Concept Master Plan?

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

Voters have consistently supported dollars for land acquisition. By necessity and law it is a closed session discussion. I think it is important to maintain a steady pressure in paying attention to opportunities to acquire property. The forest preserve has the benefit of the Conservation Foundation as a resource to help identify land, donors, and funding mechanisms. Quite a few citizens have been generous in donating their property or placing conservation easements on their property. Grants such as OSLAD are also available. However, as I mentioned earlier, it is also important to be a partner in the balance of property tax revenues possible in land development with the tax expenditure of forest preserve land acquisition and management. The forests of DuPage County strongly contribute to the quality of life enjoyed by its citizens. Sidebar: wouldn?t it be great if in your question you could link: ?forest preserve?s current land acquisition policy? to the actual policy?

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