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updated: 2/22/2013 6:31 PM

John Novak: Candidate Profile

Lombard Village President (4-year Term)

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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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City: Lombard


Office sought: Lombard Village President (4-year Term)

Age: 71

Family: Married to Marcy, District 44 School Teacher for 27 years, 3 Children, 7 Grandchildren

Occupation: Retired Treasurer of DuPage County (30 years). IMRF, Past President & Chair- Investment Committee. Illinois Children's Health Foundation Board Member, Treasurer, DuPage County Health Dept., Trustee on the North Central College Board of Trustees.

Education: North Central College, Bachelor of Arts, Business Administration. Graduate of the American Banking School, Southern Illinois University.

Civic involvement: Former Member: Lombard Rotary, Lombard (Tri-Town) YMCA, Helen Plum Memorial Library Board, Lombard Village Finance Committee, Lombard Police Pension Board, Glenbard East HS Citizen Advisory Council, Lombard Park District Fundraising efforts for Property Acquisition (Madison Meadow) and building committee for Lombard Log Cabin at Four Seasons Park.

Elected offices held: DuPage County Treasurer 1977-2006 Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund President 1999 Helen M. Plum Memorial Library Board Trustee 1976

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

My number 1 reason for running for Village President is the shocking lack of leadership displayed by the village board when the trustees attempted to comply with statutes and select an acting president from their ranks. I felt embarrassment both personally and for the Village I?ve lived in my entire life. If one thing became clear in this episode, it was that no leader could emerge within the current dynamics of the board of trustees. When 3 elected members of this board left a meeting to prevent a quorum, effectively shunning their duty and responsibility to our community, I was absolutely dumbfounded. I?ve never seen that in the three decades that I have served the public as an elected official. It not only showed a lack of leadership, it showed a lack of responsibility and even maturity. My experience demonstrates the ability to run a large organization with a lot of responsibility and moving parts. Leadership is a quality I promise to bring to this board.

Key Issue 2

Our overall economy is still somewhat hampered with very slow growth. Our village needs to continue to manage its finances very carefully and make wise financial choices. My background is in finance. We have to find a realistic solution for dealing with the long-term liabilities of the village; one such issue is the Westin Hotel and Convention Center. I will put a specific task force together of experts to work with board members and our village staff to look at solutions to firm up the financial structure of the hotel. There is a citizen board in place now overseeing this project, and I want them to be involved with enhanced expertise from outside sources that can offer additional options. We need to consider the commercial property in the village which can be available for development in key corridors with an eye toward preserving green space. It's always a better option to add more revenue through economic growth than to saddle tax payers with any greater burden than they already have. I've heard the term "micromanaging" used far too frequently lately. Elected Representatives have a fiduciary responsibility to residents and reasonable oversight is their most important role in the budgeting and appropriations process. Oversight of the public treasury is vital. I?m optimistic about the resources this village has to offer including our location, schools, park facilities and strong consumer base to attract the very best level businesses to our community.

Key Issue 3

In scattered areas throughout the village, including the area where I live, there are considerable problems with flooding and electrical reliability. We need to solve those problems for those residents as quickly and efficiently as possible. Quality of life is very much affected by these issues and the values of properties in these zones are deeply affected and have a negative overall effect on the village at large. We need to be as aggressive as possible in the village Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) which is our 10 year plan for infrastructure improvements. Many bids in the past few years have been coming in much lower due to the slower economy, by taking advantage of the current economy, we can get more value for our money and accomplish this sooner. I?ll direct our staff to rank thehot zones? where residents have struggled the most with flooding, electrical outages and poor street conditions and move those projects to the head of the list. Residents deserve reliability for basic services and I?ll make sure that is a very high priority.

Questions & Answers

Should the Ken-Loch golf links remain open space or be developed? Why?

Two important points to remember are that the golf links are not currently in the Village of Lombard and the property is privately owned. The village is currently reviewing this in the Plan Commission and I?m paying very careful attention as they do their due diligence on this property. This is an important step and I?m pleased to see there has been a lot of public involvement in the discussion. Like many people, I would love to see the land remain open. In a perfect world, another owner would come forward and continue to operate it as a golf course. That doesn't look to be happening. If the Park District or the County Forest Preserve would consider purchasing the land for public enjoyment that would be a solution I believe everyone would support. The Village is not in a position to acquire the land and maintain it into perpetuity and that isn't the mission of municipal government. The Village should be open to a cooperative agreement if other public bodies decide to pursue the property. As for the owners of the property, I believe they are entitled to sell their property as any of us should be. Hopefully, they would be open to some creative solutions should there be an opportunity to keep this land open and allow it to be a public asset. Any development should be revenue positive and shouldn't be revenue negative at this point. A high density development looks to be more taxing to the village than what it would provide in revenue. I?m not in favor of this solution. I would look at any reasonable solution that is fair to all of the parties involved. If it could remain open land, I would especially welcome that outcome.

Village government in Lombard has been sharply divided and the board has been deadlocked on several key issues since Bill Mueller's death. How will you help unify the board so it can better address Lombard's needs?

I?m an involved citizen with executive and public service experience coming from the outside of the intramural disagreements that currently exist. I?ll listen to everyone, but as the tie breaking vote, I?d move forward with the best ideas and best solutions without any regard to personalities. Ideas win. Bill Mueller and I were friends and colleagues in public service together for many years. One thing I can assure anyone of today is that Bill Mueller never walked off of a board, never would, and wouldn't tolerate it. I wouldn't either. That action is the very opposite of leadership.

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.

As a former County Treasurer, I can be absolute on this one. Our local sales taxes are not low, but they are on the lower side of the medium when compared to other communities. We should not be considering any hikes to local sales taxes because they become regressive at a point and do more damage to existing local businesses and make it all the harder to attract new businesses. We are blessed to have a large shopping center in our community as well as large manufacturing and corporate businesses on North Ave., Butterfield Road, Roosevelt Rd, etc. This business base helps keep our local property taxes lower. When you get your property tax bill, if you identify the municipal share to Lombard, it is a bit less than 9% of the entire bill. Our sales tax revenue helps keep the municipal portion of the tax bill lower. The internet already poses a significant challenge to local retailers when comparing pricing and factoring in local sales taxes. I believe we can't increase that disadvantage by raising local sales tax. I would love to lower it. I don't believe that is possible with the operations of the village so heavily dependent on this revenue source.

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.

We are fortunate to live in a safe community with an excellent police force and excellent fire and EMS services. Around particular school zones there is some concern for having crossing guards either moved or increased. I think we can look at that on a case by case basis and do some local problem solving. Most of the people I?ve spoken to have a good sense of safety in Lombard. There are always some property damage and theft issues, but they aren't overwhelming. In part, I believe that our excellent schools and excellent parks offer our youth great outlets to be productively busy. I also believe that the make-up of our community is very good at keeping an eye out for our neighbors. I don't sense any great safety concerns at all, but I do understand that a village needs to remain vigilant to keep it that way.

What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?

One of Lombard's greatest strengths is the number of retail and restaurant opportunies available here. I would like to put a realShop Lombard? initiative into practice. I?ve been putting a lot of thought into how we could incentivize people greater to keep their dollars local. With the Chamber of Commerce, Lombard Town Center and the Merchants Association at Yorktown, I?d like to use Social Media greater than we do. At the Village of Lombard web site we could create a list of daily specials and coupons for Lombard Businesses. If you are afriend? of the village, you would receive these specials electronically or you could simply go to the village website to see what the Lombard deals and offerings of the day are. This would have to be managed with our retail partners in the Chamber, Town Center and the Mall. Our businesses would be able to take turns with offers so we had our top 10 or 20 offers of the day in different lines of retail or dining. It would be similar to a Lombard version of Groupon with no profit going to the facilitator and all of the benefit going to our businesses. I?ve been discussing this with some very experienced people in the retail and social media areas. The advice I?ve received is that a small amount of seed money to create the infrastructure of this system and with some careful consultation with our business community, we could have a system up and running quickly and efficiently. I believe this would give our local businesses a boost, our residents some bargains and the village as a whole would benefit from the additional sales tax. Now that I?ve revealed this, I better get elected before any of our neighbors steal the idea.