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: Lake Zurich
Office sought: Lake Zurich Village Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Jim and his wife of 16 years Deb are the parents of three children; James (13), Morgan (11) and Andrew (7).
Occupation: President/Partner - Assured Solutions Inc. CEO/Partner - Air Filter Engineers Inc.
Education: Graduate of Southern Illinois University. Jim graduated with honors while earning a BA in Administration of Justice and a minor in Political Science. He also played for the Saluki Football team where he earned Gateway Academic All Conference honors.
Civic involvement: *Member of Fraternal Order of Elks *Member of the Carol Stream Chamber of Commerce *Past President of the Alumni Control Board - Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity (Eta Phi Chapter) *President - Newport Square Homeowners Association *Volunteer coach for: Lake Zurich Flames Football Lake Zurich Baseball and Softball Association (LZBSA) Foglia YMCA Basketball Foglia YMCA Flag Football Barrington Youth Flag Football *Booster member for Ultimate Athletics Cheerleading Program *Booster member for the Lake Zurich Titans Cheerleading Program *PTO member and volunteer for Isaac Fox Elementary School and Lake Zurich Middle School South. *Team Sponsor for Lake Zurich Baseball and Softball Association (LZBSA) *Sponsor and Volunteer for Lake Zurich Middle South Wrestling Team *Sponsor for the Isaac Fox Elementary School Walk-A-Thon *Sponsor for Relay for Life *Sponsor for Susan G. Komen 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk
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
Increase Tax Base In order for the Village to sustain a long term growth plan, we cannot simply rely on the tax payers to continue to pay more and do with less. I want to work with business leaders, developers, and bankers to create a sustainable and long term income base. I believe that the Village can pay for the needed infrastructure improvements through development of unused land and empty space. Not only would this benefit the residents through greater services, but it also would help to reduce the tax burden at the same time and while restoring/improving the beauty of the Village.
Key Issue 2
Customer Service Improvements There are a lot of what I like to call "opportunities" to enhance the lives of the residences of the Village. If elected I would look forward to meeting with the department heads and discussing ways to improve the services offered to the residents. As the owner of multiple business I understand how to evaluate, motivate and improve processes and procedures to attain the desired results. My hope is that a fresh look at the situation may provide positive results for all of Lake Zurich.
Key Issue 3
Improved Communication with the Hospitality Industry. A large request from the residents of Lake Zurich is to have new places to eat and socialize at. The residents are tired of having to travel to Wauconda, Barrington and Palatine for an evening out. Unfortunately, Lake Zurich is known in the hospitality industry as being difficult to work with. I can bring to the table over 20 years of business experience in the restaurant and hospitality industries. I would like to use my established connections to open discussions between Lake Zurich and potential new establishments.
What is your position on what needs to be done to jump-start downtown redevelopment and how soon does this need to get happen?
I believe that the downtown development has failed for two main reasons. First, as an owner of multiple businesses I value the art of negotiating deals that create awin-win? situation for all parties. For years there has been a struggle amongst the Lake Property Owners' Association(LPOA) (who rightful want to preserve the quality and beauty of the lake by restricting /limiting access) and those non Lake Property Owners who want to enjoy the beauty of the downtown lake area. Additionally, there has been a strong desire among non Lake Zurich residents from surrounding communities to have a place to go and enjoy the visual beauty of the lake. I feel that we need to bring the Lake Property Owners' Association and the rest of the village together to create a proposal that provides for the creation of a couple of establishments that would allow for families to go and enjoy the beauty of the lake yet not allowing any additional access to the lake itself. This compromise could provide all sides with the needed "win-win" as follows: 1. The development of higher end fine dining establishments would increase the beauty of the downtown. 2. A compromised development would not allow for more lake right access which would preserve the quality of the lake for the Lake Property Owners' Association. 3. Satisfying the need for families to enjoy the beauty of the lake will provide much needed revenue for the entire Village of Lake Zurich. This increased tax base would protect the village against looming future TIF payments. 4. The more visitors that come to the downtown lake area to enjoy these newly created establishments would showcase this area as a true gem. Therefore creating an increased demand/desire for families wanting to have these sought after lake rights. Resulting in higher demands for the houses that are already entitled to the lake access. This higher demand for the coveted property of the Lake Property Owners' Association would certainly result in increased home values by applying basic supply and demand principals. I envision this compromise as a solution to clearing current obstacles for the residents of both the Lake Property Owners' Association(LPOA)and other non lake right residents of Lake Zurich. Second, I believe that there has been lack of creativity or economic vision that the past and current leadership has displayed. I envision that by utilizing my successful business experience I could open communication lines with bankers and realtors to entice alternate means of attracting and funding the development of downtown. We need the financial community to "buy into" the vision of the future downtown. Once the investment community has bought into the vision, then it would be them who would and could bring this to their clients. This exposure would result in a situation that would increase the visibility of the opportunity that exists and ensure that the funding for these prospective businesses is rock solid. In summary I believe that if we can create a compromise to overcome the current "in-fighting" over the lake access and create more exposure amongst the right type of business leaders that we can and should be able to not only jump-start downtown development, but fast track the future prosperity for all current and future residents.
What are your views on any kind of financial incentives to attract future development? Do you have any concerns about offering breaks in the wake of those recently received by the developer of Mariano?s?
I believe that financial incentives can be a useful tool to attract future development. However, as I outlined above I do not believe that the Village has exhausted all current avenues for development. Therefore, it is my opinion that only once ALL of these potential opportunities have been exhausted and only as a last resort should financial incentives be included to attract future development. I strongly believe that our Village has a lot to offer prospective developers without the need to offer financial incentives. Such incentives may un-necessarily discount the tremendous opportunities that Lake Zurich has to offer and cost tax payers in the long run.
In these tight economic times, municipal budgets have to be prioritized. Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed? Conversely, is there something that should be reinstated or have resources directed toward?
As a business owner I feel that one of my strongest attributes is working with and understand budgets. I always feel the need to get a return on all money that is spent. I have taken the time to review the monthly warrants and see a lot of potential opportunities, some small and some larger. However I strongly believe that it starts with a good plan or budget and rewarding employees for being fiscally responsible. We need to apply common business practices that would help create an environment where Village Officials, Department Heads and employees are accountable and rewarded for innovative ideas to maximize the spending habits for your money. I have reviewed the monthly warrants that the village produces and see a lot of opportunity to increase the buying power of the village and stream line expenses. I believe that if employees are incented and possibly trained to work with vendors that we could realize significant increase in productivity for our spending habits. I envision this being accomplished in a two steps: 1.Create monthly variance reports. It appears that the only questions that are ever asked before the approval of the warrant are on items that are in total that exceeds 5% of the total warrant. I do not see the value in bringing these items to question. I would like to see the implementation of a monthly review of all expenses that are either in excess or below budget by 5%. This allows the village to identify areas and specific employees that either needs to be worked on, or possible rewarded for doing a great job. 2.Create and implement incentive programs for village employees. With the creation of the above variance report, the village could then recognize and reward employees that do a great job controlling costs, coming up with innovative ideas or work with vendors to maximize the spending dollars of the tax payers.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
I would like to explore the creation of a Park District. As a longtime coach and parent I believe that we have the potential to improve tremendously on our current Parks. One way to realize this goal would be through the creation of a Park District, with its own revenue source and taxing body. As a child I enjoyed growing up in Elk Grove that has one of the finest Park Districts and subsequent facilities. As a coach, I envision that the creation of an independent district would allow the growth of our current programs and facilities for the entire Village. I realize that there will be significant obstacles to realizing such an idea, but I feel that the value to all of the families that have children playing soccer, football, baseball, hockey and all sports would see the benefit and warrants the time to explore.
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.
In the wake of recent tragic events, everyone is talking about our responsibility to make sure that our kids' schools are safe. I am aware that our schools have just implemented new safety programs to help provide us parents an increase sense of security and that the police department enjoys a very good relationship with District 95. However, it has long been contended by several residents that the Police department does not always resemble a progressive department, one that reaches out the community it serves. I would encourage Chief Finlon and his department review its' current policy on community relations and look for ways to bridge the perceived gap in protecting and serving the community. Such a forum would allow the Department to showcase the things that they are doing for the residents as well as provide an opportunity for residents to express concerns to the department.