Gary Stittgen: Candidate Profile
Lake Villa Library Board (6-year Terms)
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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: Lake Villa Library Board (6-year Terms)
Family: I have been married to my lovely wife Nely for 20 years. We have three terrific boys. Gary Jr. attends Loyola University, studying statistics. Michael attends University of Chicago, studying physics. Christopher attends Shoreland Lutheran High School.
Occupation: I have been a REALTOR since 2000. I am currently a Broker Associate with Prudential Rubloff Properties in Libertyville. Before my real estate career, I owned and operated two video stores, People's Choice Video, in Zion during the 1990's.
Education: I attended college at the College of Lake County then Northern Illinois University from 1984 to 1989 studying political science and economics.
Civic involvement: I am the Lindenhurst Plan Commission Chairman. I am a member of the Lake Villa Township Lion's Club. I am a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Antioch. I am on the school board for Faith Lutheran School in Antioch. I am a member of the Lake Villa Township Republican Club. I am a Precinct Committeeman for Lindenhurst Precinct 158. I am on the board of directors for the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors, Illinois' largest Realtor organization with 14,000 members. I am Chairman of Mainstreet's Government Affairs Committee for Lake County.
Elected offices held: I have never held an elective office.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: Other than an occasional speeding ticket, no.
Key Issue 1
I want to ensure that our community library is the best it can be. I want our library to be a place where our children and families can visit to be educated and entertained in a safe and inviting environment. As a family, my wife and I enjoy taking our sons to the library. We have checked out hundreds of books and read thousands of pages. It is a great resource that I will work to protect.
Key Issue 2
NO NEW TAXES!!! A close second to my first campaign issue it to protect taxpayers. Today's property taxpayers are overtaxed and tired of paying more and more taxes to government while getting less service full of inefficiency and waste. Our homeowners can't afford to pay ever-increasing property taxes. I list homes for sale every year because the owner can no longer afford the property taxes. Our families and seniors should never have to sell their home because they can't afford the taxes. The library, as a taxing district, must put the taxpayer's money to its best use. The library must keep its tax rate as low as possible while delivering the best service to the community.
Key Issue 3
I would like to build the library of the future. This long-range planning must be done carefully so our current library is not damaged and our taxpayers are not hurt. I will oversee long-range strategic planning to identify what our community needs are and what the library will look like in 10 to 20 years. Will we need more space or less? Access to ebooks or hardcover books? Internet educational services or classroom based? Meeting space for groups or virtual communications? These and many more questions must be answered before the library can step into the future and meet our needs now and for our grandchildren.
Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
I am running for office because I am concerned about some of the decisions the current library board has made. As of December, 2012 they had about a $1,200,000 unfunded pension liability. This creates risk for the library employees as well as taxpayers. The board is also talking about expanding the library or building a new one. This must be considered very carefully and taken to the voters as a referendum before any decision is made. The library also has about $15,000,000 in cash on hand. These taxes should be put to its best use or rebated back to the taxpayers. I will work to protect our families and taxpayers while on the library board by making sure the best use of the library and tax money happens.
If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of important initiatives you've led. If you are a non-incumbent, tell us what special contributions you could make.
My contributions will be in the area of strategic planning and overseeing excellent management. The library is a well-regarded resource. Proper planning and management must take place so it continues to be a well-regarded resource in the future. My involvement with other local civic organizations has given me the experience to plan for the future and make sure top management procedures are in place. This will safeguard the library and make it a treasure for all of us to enjoy for years to come.
Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
I do have a library card and have had it since shortly after moving to Lindenhurst in 1999. I do not use it often. This is because I can never remember to bring it to the library when I take my family there. That is why they have their own cards. Plus they are responsible for their own late fees.
Space is usually an issue at libraries. If that's the case at your library, would your solution be to expand the physical plant or make room by doing away with parts of the collection that technology has made less critical? Explain.
The question of space and expansion is why long-range strategic planning is necessary. Expanding the library building would be expensive, costing millions in taxpayer dollars. This decision should only be made by the voters. The current location also poses a unique problem because it is next to wetlands that should always be protected. The long-range plan could call for less space as more resources are on the internet meaning no expansion would be needed. What the library should always be is a place for families to go and have a person help them sort through the information so it makes sense. That information might not need to be in a hardcover book in the future. The library can be a place where a group of school kids or a class could meet to do a homework assignment or class project. It can be a place where the technology exists in a safe location with an excellent staff who is able to identify the best resources.
What impact have economic and technological changes had on libraries? How does a library remain relevant? How should its role in the community change?
The internet and services such as Google have brought into question the need for libraries as more information is brought online. A Google search will give you an answer. But is it the right answer? What I think will always make libraries relevant is the people factor. The staff currently at the library is excellent. They are highly trained and very good with their patrons. Their knowledge and ability to find a resource, guide, direct and filter is what can't be found on the internet. They will always make the library relevant.
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