Ken Spitz: Candidate Profile
Wayne Township Highway Commissioner (4-year Term) (R)
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: West Chicago
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Wayne Township Highway Commissioner (4-year Term)
Family: Father of three children
Occupation: Wayne Township Highway Commissioner is my only job.
Education: Bachelor's Transportation Planning, University of Illinois, 1984
Civic involvement: Lions Club
Elected offices held: Wayne Township Highway Commissioner, 2001-Present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Property Taxes. The Wayne Township Road District receives less than one penny per dollar paid in property taxes. And, we stretch that penny as far as we can. Our tax levy is lower today - in actual dollars - than it was in 1999. I've not heard of another government taxing body that can boast the same record. I will continue to keep the Road District tax levy as low as I can for the next four years.
Key Issue 2
Infrastructure Improvements. The Road District is primarily responsible for roads, bridges and drainage systems in unincorporated areas. As Highway Commissioner, I started a inventory and condition reporting system for these public assets. That system is used to annually identify the items that need replacement and maintenance. This information is then used to prioritize action and determine budget needs. We do have needs in the flood control area. However, they require coordination and cooperation from Du Page County and the Forest Preserve District. I'd like to see these needs implemented in the next four years.
Key Issue 3
Communication. Soon after my election in 2001, we started a semi-annual newsletter to let unincorporated residents know what projects were planned and provide updates. I believe we are still one of the few Road Districts with such a newsletter. However, we do need to expand our online presence. I admit I'm not a social media person. So, I'd like to work with those more knowledgeable than I to develop web, Facebook and Twitter outlets for the Road District.
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 Highway Commissioner does not serve on the township board. However, I do have several goals for the agency I head (the Wayne Township Road District). My primary goal is to continue providing good-quality basic services (roads and drainage systems) at low cost. Our tax levy (actual dollars) is lower today than it was in 1999. That doesn't happen by accident. It is the result of good management. Two new bike/pedestrian trails are to be constructed in Wayne Township in 2013. Both will serve the regional need for recreational bicycle travel and also provide safe walking routes to local schools. These took many years to plan and acquire funding, so I'd like to see them through. We've completed several flood control projects in Wayne Township over the past 12 years. But, there are still trouble spots. We are working with Du Page County and the Forest Preserve District to address these issues. I'd like to oversee the construction of these projects during the next four years.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
Townships are still needed in the suburbs because many thousands of people do not live in a city or village. They also require and pay for basic services through property taxes. Townships could serve other roles. For example in Wayne Township, we provide the mosquito abatement services for several villages. This is a necessary service covering a large area in which village limit lines are irrelevant. It is a good example of how a mid-level agency can serve multiple communities at low-cost and with local accountability. There may be other area where townships could assist in this manner. But, that is a topic for the General Assembly to determine.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
Townships should primarily fill in the gap between county and municipal governments. There are many thousands of people who do not live in a city or village in the six-county area. These people also pay property taxes and require basic services. For the most part, the counties are not set up to provide these locally-based services or it would be cost-prohibitive for them to offer those services. Local roads are a prime example of this reality.
In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
As Highway Commissioner, I am responsible for the maintenance of township infrastructure (roads, bridges, culverts, ponds, trails, etc.). These are all necessary to serve our community. Given the limited resources we receive -- less than one penny per property tax dollar -- we are very frugal. We focus on keeping what we have in good condition rather than expanding into new areas or creating new programs. We are a small lean local government agency and aim to stay that way.
What specific background or experience do you bring that makes you the best qualified candidate to serve as an elected official in the township?
In total, I have nearly 30 years of experience in my job. Before my election in 2001, I spent 17 years in the private sector designing and managing transportation projects (roads, bridges, airports, rail systems, etc.). During the past 12 years as Highway Commissioner, I have overseen the construction of a new bridge, repaved all township roads, worked with Du Page County to install flood control systems in unincorporated neighborhoods, worked with Carol Stream to widen and improve Fair Oaks Road and install a new water main to Benjamin Middle School. We are currently working on constructing two new bike/pedestrian trails in 2013. All this has been accomplished while lowering the actual dollars collected from property taxes. The Road District tax levy (actual dollars) is lower today than it was in 1999. We do what is needed - in a way that works - for the lowest cost. I believe that is how all government agencies should work. It is the way the Road District will keep working if I am re-elected.
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