Rachel Ossyra: Candidate Profile
Naperville Township Supervisor (4-year Term) (R)
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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.
Office sought: Naperville Township Supervisor (4-year Term)
Family: Divorced, 2 children
Occupation: Business Manager, Engineer
Education: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Valparaiso University, 1981
Civic involvement: The Rotary Club of Naperville, President of Fox Valley Park District Board, Fox Valley Park Foundation Board, Chairman of Naperville Township Republican Organization, Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce
Elected offices held: Republican Precinct Committeeman, 2006-present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
We must reduce the overall footprint of government to protect our property taxpayers while providing residents with better, easier access to efficient and effective township services and resources. At a time when people are being taxed out of their homes, through our example and collaboration, we need to play a proactive role in transforming government in Illinois.
Key Issue 2
We must implement and demonstrate the highest levels of transparency and accountability regarding everything we do in township government all financials, board meeting materials and decision making processes. There should be no surprises. People should know how and when we make decisions, how they can have input and how every dollar is spent. This is a leadership issue which I embrace and will create standards and metrics with the board.
Key Issue 3
We are seeing an increasing diversity of needs for assistance. Our population is aging and experiencing greater rates of disability, and we continue to be economically stressed and vulnerable. We must consider the evolving needs of our residents, and help connect them with quality resources that will enable them to be as active, mobile and self-sufficient, as possible.
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 overall goal is to ensure the essential mission of performing mandated township services (assessing properties, maintaining township roads, providing general and emergency assistance) is carried out efficiently, effectively and responsibly. Our stakeholders are our property taxpayers and constituents. Our supporting objectives should address Financing, Resident Service and an Accountability Culture. I consider them all to be equal in priority and reinforcing. 1. HOLD FLAT OR REDUCE THE TAX LEVY IN EACH OF THE NEXT 4 YEARS. The Township has done a good job in the past of balancing the budget and reducing the tax rate. We need to apply increased scrutiny, creativity and collaboration to further streamline the budget. It starts with a line item review of the budget and developing a 3-year forward financial plan for each fund, including replacement plans. This will allow us to prudently reduce our reserves, and abate some taxes. Formal competitive bids would be held for all services. I would explore more opportunities for shares services and cooperative agreements with other units of government to reduce our joint overall costs and simplify access to services. We would also reexamine reimbursement policies for cell phones. The supervisor and clerk don't need taxpayer subsidized cell phones. 2. MODERNIZE DELIVERY OF EASILY ACCESSIBLE, OUTSTANDING SERVICE TO RESIDENTS. I would implement the Quality Improvement process to define requirements, then do it right the first time and every time, and set metrics to measure our performance. We would expand the use of Township Technology to improve awareness and online access to services electronic newsletters, website, webcasts. We would develop an online Assistance & Services portal which would provide an online directory of local resources both public and private much greater in scope than what is currently available. We would strive to connect people seeking general assistance with counseling and life skills resources to help them get back on their feet again. We would look for others who are already doing these things and select relevant best practices. I would also pilot the Community Emergency Response Team initiative, with Milton Township and DuPage County. 3. CREATE AN "ACCOUNTABILITY CULTURE" WITH FULL TRANSPARENCY AND ADHERENCE TO HIGH ETHICAL STANDARDS. This accountability starts with the elected officials and is a leadership issue. All the Township business should be transparent and available to residents online in a timely manner meeting agendas and packets, meeting minutes, budgets, the checkbook and expenditures with line-item detail, elected officials salaries and remuneration. The board should scrutinize all expenditures and provide greater attention to detail as if it were their money! I would establish a professional process for preparing and conducting board meetings, including timely delivery of board packets, so that the meetings are welcoming, productive and lead to solutions for our residents.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
It is essential that we reduce and simplify the overall government footprint in Illinois and ensure that the activities of every unit of government are transparent to the public. My goals and objectives outlined above would begin to accomplish this. Credible research has shown that Townships are currently the most cost effective and responsive providers of mandated Township services. They are most effective at dealing with very local issues such as property assessments and general and emergency assistance and are able to direct people to resources through community partnerships faster and more efficiently than larger government. However, in a suburban county like DuPage, with limited unincorporated area, I believe there is great opportunity to collaborate with municipalities, the county and other partners. I would like to create a pilot in Naperville Township to explore these opportunities, including the DuPage County first responders network via the all volunteer CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program that Milton Township created.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
The primary responsibilities, which are mandated by law, should be to assess property, maintain Township roads, and provide general assistance and emergency assistance to those in need. I would not seek to expand these services, and would pursue ways to transform delivery through technology and partnering with other local governments, agencies and private entities. We have an opportunity to collaborate with municipalities and DuPage County while still being cost effective, easy to access and responsive.
In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
For the record, Republican Township Leadership has lowered the tax rate for the last 28 years and cut the levy for the 2nd consecutive year. The Township operates on a very lean budget and yearly expenditures have been at or below budget. The Township will be abating collected taxes this year. Also, Naperville Township Elected Officials salaries are the lowest in DuPage County. We will build on this record of accomplishment through the ideas I described above.
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 lived in Naperville Township for almost 10 years and have a good understanding and working knowledge of local government. Through my business experience and community volunteer work, I have the leadership, communication, business skills and relationships to successfully transform and modernize the Township Supervisor's office. I like to set stretch goals, work hard to achieve them, and hold myself accountable. I like to work with people to solve problems and help them succeed. Specifically, I have over 25 years of experience and outstanding performance delivery as a senior business manager in the petrochemical industry including roles in executive leadership, international business management, change management, strategy development, marketing & sales, human resources and manufacturing. I am currently the board president for the Fox Valley Park District, the 2nd largest in Illinois with an annual budget over $50 million and serving over 230,000 people. I led the board in holding the tax levy flat for the 2nd year in a row while maintaining high quality of service and implementing the final phase of our $45 million referendum. I have a track record of building strong, collaborative relationships which should be beneficial in identifying and implementing partnering opportunities. I am very involved in the local community through the park district, the Rotary Club of Naperville, the chamber of commerce, and other activities.
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