Mark Walsten: Candidate Profile
Des Plaines Mayor (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.
City: Des Plaines
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Des Plaines Mayor (4-year Term)
Family: Two daughters in collage
Occupation: Self employed, Owner of Home Inspection Co.
Education: U of Iowa/ Communication
Civic involvement: Des Plaines Special Events Commission
Elected offices held: Alderman, Des Plaines. 07-11 11-present Won last election with 87% of the vote.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: no
Key Issue 1
What concerns Des Plaines residents the most is constant tax increases. Our staff, under the direction of the Mayor and council, has brought the residential property owners of Des Plaines a 0% tax levy increase for the last three years. One way to keep from having to raise taxes without cutting services is to generate more sales tax. I brought to council a project at 999 Touhy that is developing an electronic convention center, one of the few in the county that will produce substantial tax revenue. As Mayor, I will explore the feasibility of the proposed 6th Ward O?Hare Lakes billion dollar redevelopment project. This project, after full build out is estimated to draw close to $30 million in tax revenue for Des Plaines. When we get to an end to this successful project, I pledge to lower taxes for the residents of Des Plaines. I will also work with staff to explore every vacant piece of property in Des Plaines for possible development, including five corners TIF.
Key Issue 2
The continued effort to end our flooding problems will be a top priority of my administration. I will consider stepping up the CIP funding to improve infrastructure to reduce flooding.
Key Issue 3
Maintaining the top notch Police and Fire departments that Des Plaines residents are used to will continue to be a high priority for me as Mayor. When I became Alderman, I discovered that the city had an antiquated emergency call system in case of disaster. It could only contact 10 residents per minute. I brought to council a modern system that could phone (call), email and text over 50 thousand residents in a matter of minutes. I am currently working on an upgraded 911 system that leaves behind the antiquated radio wave communication to a state of the art web based system. This system can use IPhones so Police and Fire can physically view the situation from the outside, greatly reducing the risk of harm to the officer/firefighter.
There's been talk about using casino revenue to update the city's infrastructure. Where is that money most urgently needed?
Unfortunately, in my opinion, what is most urgently needed is the completion of the compensatory storage project in Wheeling, to receive millions of gallons of over flow flood water. We may increase funding for storm sewer improvements with casino revenue.
What can be done to fill vacancies and draw new businesses to the downtown area? Be as specific as possible.
I?ve being a big supporter of the Des Plaines theater renovation in down town. I?ve invited IL. Historic Preservation Agency expert Anthony Rubano to tour the theater and the downtown area. He believes, as I do, that a downtown theater can greatly improve the entire downtown area. Examples of this include: Rialto Theater in Joliet, Catlow in Barrington, York in Elmhurst, Wilmette in Wilmette and the Genesee in Waukegan. The theaters in these cities have proved to be the economic engines in there downtown redevelopments. I would also strongly consider designating the downtown area as a historic district. This would attract new businesses with many incentives, including a 20% rebate in federal taxes.
What is the biggest issue facing Des Plaines at present, and what are your thoughts on it?
Please refer to Key issue 1 (above)
Given the delicate balance between the need for revenue and over-taxing local businesses, what is your opinion of Des Plaines' present level of local sales taxes? Is the tax just right, too low or too high? Explain.
Our tax on local business is fairly equal to many municipalities in our area. I may consider lowering our gas surcharge tax.
What are the city's biggest public safety concerns? Explain the concern as you see it, and discuss how you think it should be addressed.
Please refer to Key issue 3.
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