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updated: 2/22/2013 6:35 PM

Dennis Clark: Candidate Profile

Winfield Township Highway Commissioner (4-year Term) (D)

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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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Winfield

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Winfield Township Highway Commissioner (4-year Term)

Age: 57

Family: The Clark family consist of Christine, Alyssa and Dennis

Occupation: Engineer / Land Management

Education: ? Civil Engineering MBA,PMP, Six Sigma Road, stormwater, utilities, contract, HR Experience Surveying, welding, auto mechanics OSHA 30 & First Aid Safety Certificates Open Meeting Act and Ethics training Morton Arboretum Certificates

Civic involvement: ? Plan Commissioner of Winfield - Three Terms Zoning Commissioner of Winfield - One Term Illinois Nature Preserves Commission Board Member Director Illinois Prairie Path & Membership Chair West Chicago Prairie Stewardship Group President of West-Win HOA (over 700 unincorporated homes)

Elected offices held: None. Appointed to State Nature Preserve Commission and longest serving plan commission member for the Village of Winfield.

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

The Road District budget and administrative costs need to be analyzed for possible savings. The voters in Winfield Township need to ask why our township has some of the highest compensated elected officials within the collar counties. Many township governments have excessive administrative budgets, provide automatic pay increases, and free health insurance for elected officials; all of these items need to be examined for cost savings. Within the Road District, an analysis is needed to assess staffing requirements, number of staff needed in a crew, appropriateness of salaries and benefits and to determine who qualifies to receive pension benefits. The efficiency of Road District operations is also in question. When elected, I will investigate the cost of purchasing large pieces of equipment vs. sharing more services and costly equipment with other townships and municipalities. Duplication of such purchases is costly to the taxpayers. In addition, we should pay attention to hiring practices. If the Road District hired staff who have training and expertise in surveying, roads construction and maintenance and environmental concerns, the work would be completed with accuracy; the first time.

Key Issue 2

Over the years we have observed deteriorating roads in various parts of the Township; mostly in the subdivisions. Road District personnel have stated that road resurfacing/patching/paving is done on a 10 year rotating schedule and that, due to budget constraints, that schedule has been extended an additional 3 to 4 years. In the meantime, we have experienced serious cracking and potholes that damage vehicles and present a danger to those riding bikes or walking. Realtors have also remarked on how the condition of the roads leading up to a residence impacts prospective buyers. The Road District should embrace many of the new road mixes and designs that incorporate recycled and environmentally safe (green) products. Proper training of staff in the area of identification of native and non-native invasive species of bushes and trees prior to removing, the correct methods of tree trimming, and litter pick-up will have a positive impact on the area.

Key Issue 3

The Road District operates in a vacuum. It is not an area that is at the forefront of the taxpayers minds. Therefore, it seems to go unnoticed that, except for the annual Winfield Township Road District booklet, there is little else about the operation that comes to the attention of the public. Does the average taxpayer know the salaries and pension benefits of the elected and staff personnel? Have they seen a posting of meeting dates, agendas and minutes? Have they seen an annual financial report, a quarterly investment report, annual road plans or contracts? Do the taxpayers really know how their money is being used by the Road District? Residents are often confused about where their responsibility ends and that of the Road District begins. Why does the Road District chose to help some neighbors with drainage issues and not others with similar issues? Most taxpayers would appreciate a level of honesty and respect that currently is not consistent.

Questions & Answers

Name the three most important goals or objectives this board should tackle in the coming term. Prioritize them, and briefly discuss why you believe each to be critical, and how the board should go about addressing them.

The three most important goals of the Winfield Road District should be: 1. Public Safety Taxpayers should expect to be able to safely travel the township roads. Under my supervision, this would be accomplished through constant inspection for needed road repairs and maintenance and more immediate treatment such as filling potholes and repairing large cracks that could be hazardous to cars, bikes and pedestrians. Trees, bushes and other vegetation that obstructs the view, particularly at intersections, as is now the case, would be trimmed or removed to prevent accidents. 2. Increased Efficiency and Cost Savings Under my direction, efficiency would be increased by reducing duplication. As Highway Commissioner, I would be sure to represent the taxpayers by continuing to search for opportunities to provide services at a reduced cost by partnering with other municipalities to share equipment and services. I would also be proactive in saving dollars by searching out alternative materials for salt and paving road mixes and means of applying these products while reducing costs and the impact on the environment. Such new and logical ideas can only be accomplished if the voters elect someone new who is not compromised by other elected officials, friends and family. 3. Development of a Long Range Plan It is inevitable that township government in DuPage County will be under increased scrutiny as more land is slowly annexed to municipalities. The Road District Highway Commissioner needs to work closely with neighboring cities and villages to be knowledgeable about their long range plans for development and annexation. Based on that information and the needs of the Road District operation, I would engage in the development of 5, 10 and 15 year plans that would include excellent highway services to taxpayers throughout the township.

In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?

Most of the unincorporated land in Winfield Township has been developed into residential housing with large lots required to accommodate on-site sanitary systems. (Lots of 1 acre or more are required by law for septic systems.) These large developed lots and some of the topography in the area make it cost prohibitive to connect most areas to municipal water and sewer service. The provision of water and sewer services is the usual driving force for annexation to a municipality. If townships are to be eliminated as some claim, the government will need to devise a plan to provide utilities to thelarge lot? areas at a reasonable cost. If that is the goal, the focus now should be to develop a plan on how to get there. Without a plan that will provide an appropriate level of services, at a reduced cost, a transition cannot be accomplished.

What should be the primary responsibility of township government?

Township government should focus on what they are legally required to do and resist the temptation ofmission creep? in an attempt to prove their worth. The three areas of focus should be assessment of real property for tax purposes, maintenance of roads and bridges, and general assistance to the taxpayers. The cost benefit analysis should be used to examine the value received for many of the service programs that have crept into township government. It is clear that the elected officials are more concerned about feeding the administration overheads than providing valuable services to taxpayers. Most DuPage township elected officials will deny this, but their self-approved high salaries and benefits are a clear signal to the taxpayers that they really are looking out for themselves rather than the public concerns. The primary responsibility of township government is defined by law and should be followed as such.

In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?

There are many areas that I would examine for possible savings of tax dollars. These include: 1. A time analysis study conducted to determine if all elected officials at the township are eligible (have the requisite hours) to participate in the IMRF pension system. 2. At one time, governmental positions paid less than the public sector. The trade-off was a pension and some benefits. In recent times, this has been flipped and governmental positions are paying more than the public sector and with much better benefits. Therefore it is time to either lower the compensation or begin employee participation in the cost of those benefits. 3. All programs should be measured against the legally required areas of responsibility of township governments; assessment of real property for tax purposes, maintenance of roads and bridges, and general assistance. The cost benefit approach would flush out those areas where taxpayers could benefit. 4. In reviewing the recent budgets, it is very clear that nearly 20% of the budget could be eliminated without the least impact to the taxpayers. Such ideas can only be accomplished if the voters elect someone new who is not compromised by other elected officials, friends and family.

What specific background or experience do you bring that makes you the best qualified candidate to serve as an elected official in the township?

What specific background or experience do you bring that makes you the best qualified candidate to serve as an elected official in the township? I have a civil engineering degree and over 25 years of supervisory and hands-on experience designing, maintaining and repairing roads including drainage and storm water systems and coordinating with utility companies. My background in surveying, welding, auto mechanics, contracts, budget and human resources are all excellent matches for the responsibilities of the position of Highway Commissioner with the Road District. My certifications in job site safety, vegetation management, the open meetings act, and ethics will all be beneficial in leading the Road District department to improved efficiency. I also hold a Master's Degree in Business Administration that provides expertise in budgeting, bonds, investments, financial accounting, grants, reporting, taxes and tax monitoring, and cost control. I am currently completing classes to earn the designation Project Management Professional; PMP. This knowledge will prove valuable in scheduling crews and controlling costs. Extremely important to this position is the skill of working cooperatively with people in all walks of life to accomplish tasks. It has been proven throughout my career and my volunteer work in the community that I work well within both a line and supervisory capacity. My style is collaborative. I am open, honest and interested in doing the right thing for the taxpayers of Winfield Township. Since I am notconnected?, I will not be compromised by other elected officials, family, or friends. I will be there serving the people of our Township. As a 25 year resident of Winfield Township, I have had many opportunities to interact with municipal, township, forest preserve and county governments. As president of the largest homeowners association in Winfield Township, (over 700 homes), I have cultivated many relationships with the elected leaders and staff of these institutions. Appointments to the Winfield Plan Commission for three terms, Winfield Zoning Commission and the Illinois State Nature Preserve Commission have all provided additional opportunities to engage local officials and the public as we work together for a better future for all.

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