Robert Kula: Candidate Profile
Avon Township Highway Commissioner (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.
Office sought: Avon Township Highway Commissioner (4-year Term)
Family: Married 19 years, four children
Occupation: Employed at Avon Township Highway Department
Education: Candidate did not respond.
Civic involvement: Past Member of Grayslake Lions Club 5 years Coached youth baseball through Grayslake Youth Baseball Association. Coach girls softball each year through the Park District. Currently Vice President Grayslake Central High School Booster Club
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: no
Key Issue 1
Experience Of the three candidates running for Avon Township Highway Commissioner's position, I am the most qualified. I have been with the Highway Department since 1984. During the past 28 years, I have acquired an extensive knowledge base of the unincorporated Avon Township Highway Department infrastructure in which the other two candidates do not possess. I have overseen countless paving projects, storm water projects, and weather related emergencies. Handling of these issues is paramount as public safety has always been my primary concern.
Key Issue 2
Managing Resources Effectively managing resources at the highway department would be something I would like to address as Avon Township Highway Commissioner. As an example, we incorporated an organic de-icing liquid into our winter snow and ice treatment that is used in conjunction with road salt. This method is considered less corrosive and more effective for de-icing roads. However, only one of our trucks currently monitors usage of de-icing materials via an on-board computer. Incorporating this technology with all the vehicles would create the ability to track salt usage. Consumption could then be reduced based on temperature, snow fall, and past history. The result is two-fold; savings to taxpayers and lowering our impact on the environment (i.e. lakes and streams).
Key Issue 3
Candidate did not respond.
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.
1. Clear communication to residents on financial matters. For the highway department, this would include posting costs of projects including material lists on the Township's website. The taxpayers deserve to know how and where we are spending their money. 2.Opinions of Residents: What are their needs? For the Highway Department, engaging dialogue with residents on a regular basis regarding what we do in their community should be a priority. Speaking from experience, some neighborhoods have very different views of how much de-icing materials should be used on their roads. This and other issues should be subject to an open forum to come to a plan that best suit individual neighborhood? needs. I have always had concerns with the amount of salt residue that finds its way into the lakes and streams in the township for each community. I truly believe in working together with the residents not only gives them empowerment, but in the long-term they will continue to be more involved to make other areas of our community a better place. 3.An important goal the Avon Township Board needs to address is increasing the social services to the Avon Township communities. Specifically, the board needs to increase services to the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and others in need. Avon Township Center is a great location to offer activities to our seniors and disabled that would increase their quality of life. The board needs to utilize the current sign in front of the township office to advertise these services to those in need. I find it frustrating that a great way to communicate to our residents is being overlooked for the most part.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
Focusing on the Highway Department, we have not had roads annexed in recent years While in the past annexing unincorporated roads was the trend, that has fallen off in my experience. Residents have expressed their gratitude for quality and personalized services. I have made it a priority to personalize the highway departments? service throughout each community. To be an effective Highway Commissioner, I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining a small town community environment while incorporating current technology and cost-efficient operations. I have always been proud of the fact that we have had a quick response time to residents? concerns throughout my 28 years of service. As far as servicing a new role is concerned, I would really like to see the highway department offer leaf collection. This is an environmental concern that affects everyone where leaf burning is permitted.Townships will always be needed for the foreseeable future to maintain roads, assess taxes in a fair and efficient manner, offer general assistance to residents, and with the new board find ways to increase resident involvement in the community. Townships are a form of government that serve the people effectively while staying within their budgets.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
The primary function of township government is to preserve the residents? quality of life. We as elected officials do this through the services we provide, whether it is general assistance, fair and accurate tax assessment, road maintenance, or emergency services. We, as a township, have a vested interest in the community we live in.
In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
Township expenses should always be available to the public and open for scrutiny. As a township employee for 28 years, I have always done my part to hold down costs. I have personally overseen the bidding process of most of the equipment purchased at the highway department. We have been able to save substantial money by purchasing equipment through the state bidding process, which uses the power of volume buying. As Highway Commissioner, I will continue to explore other expenses we now have that can be reduced or eliminated to further savings to the taxpayers without eliminating vital programs that assist the residents.
What specific background or experience do you bring that makes you the best qualified candidate to serve as an elected official in the township?
My 28 years of hands-on experience at Avon Township Highway Department makes me the most qualified candidate for the position of Highway Commissioner. Experience is not something that is replicable in this field of work. Experience gives you the advantage of using your knowledge to assess quickly and professionally various situations that arise at the highway department. I have the advantage of a complete working knowledge of all the storm water systems throughout the right of ways. I have been active in completing and filing highway department paperwork with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to secure disaster relief from weather related issues. I have worked side-by-side with multiple county personnel during road projects. I am currently certified through Stormwater Management Commission as a Dedicated Erosion Control Inspector, and I have completed numerous winter de-icing workshops. Lastly, I have the respect of the community that I serve and have developed many friendships with the residents which allows me to work side by side with them to address important concerns. My passion has always been to give quality and personalized service to residents. 7. I have lived in Avon Township most of my life. Born and raised here, I have been dedicated to this community as a child when it was mostly farm. Now, I am more involved in my community with a great family and many people I call friends. Becoming the next Avon Township Highway Commissioner would give me the opportunity to continue my service to the residents at a new level.
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