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 City Council (2-year Terms)
Family: Married to Cyndee for 43 Years Four Children Carrie, Justin, Lukas and Amanda (would have been 40 this year) Two Grandchildren Elsa and Thomas James (TJ)
Occupation: Real Estate Broker with RE/MAX of Naperville
Education: Illinois State Police Academy - Graduate
Civic involvement: Winding Creek Homeowners Association Secretary: 1/2004 - 2/2005 Naperville Astronomical Society Naperville Little League Naperville Traveling Baseball Team Naperville Central Booster Club Varsity Basketball Varsity Baseball Wheatland Athletic Association Wheatland South Homeowners Association: Organizer and Member
Elected offices held: Naperville City Councilman, 1989 - current Lisle Township Republican Precinct 75 Committeeman, 1993 - current
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: NO
Key Issue 1
Pension reform and balancing our budget These two go hand in hand; our pension costs are dictated from Springfield and have a direct affect on our budget. State law requires us to have a balanced budget. The city has made some changes while waiting for Springfield to act, as each day that Springfield does nothing it increases the state's outstanding pension obligation by $17 million dollars a day. It is a domino effect, as Naperville is then responsible for more in pension payments locally. To address this mounting problem while waiting for Springfield to act, we have instituted aTwo Tier System? which means all new hires are on a different benefits program that is reducing our costs. For the fiscal year 2012, the pension cost for Naperville amounted to: 1) Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) $5.8 million, 2) the Police $4.3 million and 3) the Firefighters $4.7 million. That is $14.8 million for the year 2012 for pension cost out of a $110 million dollar General Fund Budget. Since Springfield tells us what we must contribute, it has been increasing every year. Another move we have made to address the pension problem is promoting the hiring of part-time employees where appropriate to reduce costs. The last four years have required us to reduce costs as revenues were down. This included reduction in the workforce and scaling back non-essential services. This year it appears that revenues are on the increase and we are projecting around $5 million dollar surplus. Everyone has different ideas of what to do with these funds. I, for one, support returning it to the taxpayers.
Key Issue 2
Infill and redevelopment of small parcels With no large subdivision projects in our future, we are now focusing on the small parcels of land and redevelopment projects, which includes the demolition of existing buildings to build new ones. There is one other area to consider, and that is the completion of subdivisions that went into foreclosure before their completion, such as English Rows and Mayfair. When looking at these development projects, it is very important to balance the development with the surrounding neighbors whether it is commercial or residential. For example, the Water Street Project which has gone through many variations. The questions of this particular project, or any project for that matter, is height, traffic, density and its impact on the riverwalk and the existing surrounding neighbors. At the same time, we need to balance the proposal against the 2030 Plan for the development of downtown Naperville, which has a limit of 60 foot height levels. Managing the growth of either infills or re-developments requires balancing the needs of the project and its impact on its neighbors.
Key Issue 3
Economic Development to attract new business and retain existing businesses. The city was proactive in this area in the mid 90's with the efforts of both the city and the business community to establish the Naperville Development Partnership (NDP). NDP's mission is to work on bringing new businesses to Naperville as well as promoting the retention of existing businesses. Crate & Barrel, Costco, Lowes, Naperville Motors, Continental Acura, Bill Jacob's Volkswagen, Marriot, Hotel Arista, Wal-Mart and Lexus are just a few of the many businesses that have come to Naperville because of the great working relationship between the city and Naperville Development Partnership. In addition, there has been an improvement in processing building permits with the Tenant Build-Out Program. Every Tuesday morning at City Hall this program brings together all the departments of the city to review plans at one meeting. Permits that took months to process now can be approved in as little as a few days. Helping businesses with their bottom line in energy costs is another advantage to be a business owner in Naperville. When comparing Naperville's commercial electric rates with ComEd you will find our rates are approximately 17% to 28% lower. Using the Alternative Payment Program has helped businesses to pay for various fees by paying ComEd rates for their electricity, with the difference being applied over time to pay for those costs. To continue the success that Naperville enjoys, it will require the continued dialog of all stakeholders to address concerns, problems, or opportunities for the benefit of our community.
There are increasing concerns about safety in downtown Naperville, especially on weekend nights. Is the city doing enough to promote downtown safety and, if not, what other steps should it take?
The problem regarding safety concerns with downtown Naperville is lack of enforcement with our existing laws. Those establishments that are over-serving patrons should be punished in front of the liquor commission, and those revelers who are pre-drinking in their cars in the parking garage to save money should be punished in front of a judge. I support Chief Marshall's new program of increased enforcement but there are other things that should be considered. As a starter, all servers and bouncers should be required to go through Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education Training (BASSET program). All bouncers should be trained either by the police department or through courses offered by various colleges to handle the variety of situations that might occur. The bouncers should have the means by which they can quickly alert law enforcement for additional help if needed before an event escalates. The bottom line is that all the parties need to work together to maintain a safe and secure downtown environment.
What is your vision for the continued development of downtown? Are there types of businesses you would like to see in the central business district or other parts of the city?
The 2030 Plan for Downtown Naperville that was approved last year took years of meetings, discussions, and hearings in which all interested parties participate. The results were very specific about building height in addition to guidance in other areas. This plan should be followed to in order to have balanced development while maintaining the integrity of the downtown. Washington Street, from Hillside to Ogden, has a new zoning of TU (transitional use) which includes height limits of 60 feet and can be residential, commercial or any combination of the two. We have seen this with the new medical building on the corner of Benton and Washington as well as the old Post Office converted to a Bank and smaller Post Office. The mix of what kind of business is going to be market driven, but it would be nice to see more locally owned and operated establishments.
Has Naperville's image gotten better or worse over the past four years? What are two things the city needs to do better?
We are not in the growth mode of the eighties and nineties and have become more stable and established. Over the last ten years we have been selected several times in Money Magazine's top places to live. No matter where one travels to, most people have heard or know about Naperville. In general, I think we have a good reputation. Are there areas that could be improved? Yes. As an example, I think we can have better communications with the residents and the business community regarding what is happening in the city and encouraging more input regarding proposed projects. Another area for improvement is how city government should follow its own advice andShop Naperville First?. We need to make sure all businesses and interested parties that have businesses in Naperville are made aware of opportunities to do business with the City of Naperville. This does not mean giving preferential treatment to Naperville businesses, but we should make sure there is the opportunity to become the lowest priced responsible bidder for City contracts. Spending money in town means jobs and the city shouldShop Naperville First.?
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?
For the last four years the city has been reducing the workforce and non-essential programs in order to balance our budget. This was done because Naperville was experiencing the downturn of the recession with lower revenues from sales tax, real estate transfer tax and utilities tax. Unlike the Federal and State Governments, we are required by law to have a balanced budget. The Council also looked at other sources of revenue to shore up our budget, such as the one percent food and beverage tax. From this fund, we transferred $600,000 to the General Fund in order to balance the budget. The goal of the Council has been to not raise taxes but work within our means while still providing the essential services to the community.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Maintain or increase, and ensure professionalism by police officers; and,