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.
Website: http://WinfieldDeservesBetter.com (will be up soon)
Office sought: Winfield Village President (4-year Term)
Occupation: Senior hydrogeologist (geologist that specialized in groundwater). I work for the Fortune 500 engineering company CH2M Hill.
Education: 1. Bachelor of Science, Geology (with mathematics minor), University of Northern Iowa, 1987 2. Master of Science., Geology, (Hydrogeology specialization), Northern Illinois University, 1990
Civic involvement: I have a extensive record of civic involvement, which I've broken out into 1) Village government, 2) village (general), 3) regional/non-profit, and 4) professional 1. Volunteer on Winfield Village: on one to four committees from 2001 until becoming Trustee in 2011, then liaison to each committee 1a. Environmental Concerns Commission member or Chair from 2001 to 2011 1b. Riverwalk Committee unofficial member starting in 2007, member from 2010 to 2011 1c. Bikeways Planning Group co-founder and member 2009 to 2011 1d. Stormwater Committee 2009 to 2011 2. Other Winfield volunteer efforts 2a. Winfield Earth Day Cleanup started and leads with the Winfield Environmental Concerns Commission since 2008 2b. Clean Sweep (sponsored by the Conservation Foundation) leads river cleanup with Winfield Riverwalk Committee from 2011 to present 2c. School District 34 volunteer. Constructedoutdoor classroom? with team (2007), and also worked with middle school science classes (December 2012) 2d. School District 200 volunteer. Worked with the Wheaton North High SchoolClub Environmental Rescue? (January 2013) 3. Regional non-profit organizations 3a. President, Illinois Prairie Path not-for-profit Corporation (Director or executive committee since 2001) 4. Professional 4a. Editor (1992 to date) and past Chair (2005), Illinois Groundwater Association. 4.b Secretary and Editor. American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG Illinois-Indiana Section (2006 to present) 4c. Board Member, University of Northern Iowa Department of Earth Science Advisory Board (2006 to present)
Elected offices held: Winfield Trustee (2011 to date)
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Honest Government the majority on the current board has not listened to the residents. This majority has also repeatedly operated in inappropriate secrecy, violated multiple village and Illinois State laws, illegally rezoned property, ignored the directives of binding and advisory citizen referendum, and has behaved in an uncivil manner. This has damaged resident trust in village government. I will work to restore trust by respecting the will of residents, restoring the rule of law, civility and provide fairness to all.
Key Issue 2
Smart Development Winfield needs best-in-class planning that results quality development that will provide sustainable revenue to the village. All areas of Winfield can be redeveloped if it is done in a professional and open way, respects the rights of all parties, and provides a vision that enhances the many positive attributes of our village. The key to this opportunity is a new comprehensive plan, which will be started in 2013.
Key Issue 3
Realistic Budget - Winfield needs a realistic and pragmatic evaluation of services, revenue, and (as noted above) long-term development. The majority on the current board has not had a complete or open discussion, nor have all options been evaluated. Due to the wasted two previous years, the board that will be seated in May 2013 will need to start over. As the newly-elected village president I will lead this effort.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
My long history of public service to the village, civic involvement, strong work ethic, and professional leadership make me the superior candidate for Winfield village president: Public service to the village I have served the village since 2001 on multiple committees, and have been a trustee since 2011. By comparison, by opponent has little experience with village government Civic involvement I am a dedicated volunteer, and have worked with non-profits, schools, and community events since 2001. This shows my commitment to my community Work ethic I am by far the hardest working trustee in Winfield, serving on the most committees and doing more than my share to make village government work. I will carry this work ethic forward as village president Professional leadership I have held board and executive positions on multiple non-profit, professional, university, and municipal boards since 1992. This ability to work with diverse boards has prepared me to administer village government far better than my opponent. Lastly, my actions as a trustee demonstrate courage and a dedication to the interests of the residents that I serve. In May 2012 I revealed to the public the board's secret plans to eliminate the police department. I was illegally thrown out of the next board meeting and censured by my irate colleagues on the board, but I felt that was the right thing to do. Much to my surprise, the reaction of residents has been overwhelmingly positive. This action resulted in a good governmentCitizen Initiative Award? from the Citizen Advocacy Center non-profit in December 2012 and I am humbled that I am the only politician to ever receive this award.
Given the delicate balance between the need for revenue and over-taxing local businesses, what is your opinion of your community's present level of local sales taxes? Is the tax just right, too low or too high? Explain.
Winfield currently has no local sales tax, and it is one of the few DuPage County communities to be in this position. The majority on the board recently voted to put a percent increase sales tax on the April 2013 ballot, which is the maximum it can do for a non-home rule community. The issue will be settled by the voters in April.
Talking with your friends and neighbors, what seems to be their biggest public safety concern? Explain the concern as you see it, and discuss how you think it should be addressed.
The elimination of the Winfield Police Department is by far the #1 concern. Winfield has been traumatized by the efforts of the current board's majority to eliminate the Winfield police department and contract services with the County Sherriff. This effort by the board was badly handled since it was done in secret for 11 months. Residents rose up in revolt approving a non-binding citizen referendum by 87% to keep the local police department. Due to this mandate the future Winfield boards should not touch the Winfield Police Department level of staffing unless it is crystal clear that changes (e.g. reducing head count) will not affect public safety. As far as I am concerned the residents have spoken and I have received their message.
In these tight economic times, municipal budgets have to be prioritized. Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed, and conversely, are there areas the budget does not give enough money to?
The Winfield budget has been pruned continuously for 10 years, and according to the village manager the fat has long since been eliminated. The only area of savings would be deferring capital expenditures, such as replacing fleet vehicles or infrastructure improvements. Any cuts such as this need to be considered very carefully since most have already been deferred for one or more years already. The area that needs the most attention is our under funded roads. Currently the village spends perhaps $400K per year once you back out grants and one-time gifts, but our village engineer has estimated we need to spend approximately $800K per year. Unfortunately the current board has not addressed this issue (they thought they had the problem solved with the plan to eliminate the police department, and that is off the table). Solving this problem will be the foremost task of the next board.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Winfield has a history of being myopic in its relationships with other entities. Positive working relationships are a key in well-run communities since they provide cooperative opportunities for social interaction to build the fabric of communities and development opportunities. What most people don't know is that the village is slowly building relationships with other units of government and major organizations. Village President Birutis is the first village president to forge a working and ongoing relationship with Cadence Health (aka CDH). I done my part to date to foster positive communication, and as village president I will continue this effort. I have worked with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County for many years, and regularly attend County Stormwater Committee meetings. I have reached out to Cantigny, our neighbor to the south. All of these are major institutions that can work with the village if we can find a level of trust and common ground.