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updated: 3/15/2013 10:03 AM

Brian Charles: Candidate Profile

St. Charles Park Board (4-year Terms)

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  • Brian Charles, running for St. Charles Park Board (4-year Terms)

    Brian Charles, running for St. Charles Park Board (4-year Terms)




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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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: St. Charles


Office sought: St. Charles Park Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 45

Family: Wife: Ann

Son: Jack, 10

Daughter: Emily, 8

Occupation: Mobility consulting executive at Dell, Inc.

Education: BA University of Iowa, 1990

MS Roosevelt University, 1995

MBA Illinois Institute of Technology, 2002

Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.

Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

I resolve to provide the same, excellent level of services to St. Charles Park District residents as they have enjoyed while ensuring that we meet our budget priorities.

Achieving balance between community stakeholders and the Park District will contribute directly to meeting this tandem goal.

Key Issue 2

My second resolution is to understand and audit the work of the Park District Board relative to other high-performing Park District Boards. What are we doing right? What are other municipalities doing that St. Charles isn't? What is our "As-is" state, and what should our "To-be" state look like?

Undertaking this audit will allow me to benchmark our performance in terms of fiscal responsibility and services offered against other Park Districts to validate whether St. Charles residents are receiving the best value for their tax dollars or whether further areas of improvement exist.

Key Issue 3

My third and final resolution is to rapidly engage with stakeholders, including residents, committee members and the Park Board, to solicit their opinions on key issues and priorities. The forum of the past is not the forum that we need to employ today to have dialogues with our users.

It would be ideal for every resident of St. Charles to be able to voice their opinion about the Park District facilities and services that they feel we need. Unfortunately and because of the demands on our time, participating actively in public or political forums is not an option for all residents. Instead, they entrust the Park Board and its administration and staff to manage on their behalf.

I believe that we can only maintain our great collection of Park District services if the Park Board attempts to actively engage with residents in non-traditional venues such as our many fairs and events, at our facilities such as the pools and the Community Center, and through the adoption of social media and other online and mobile channels. St. Charles residents are informed, educated and willing to give back to their community. In our role as Park Board commissioners, we need to find those connection points and tap them.

Questions & Answers

What programs aren't paying for themselves? Would you keep, eliminate or change them? How and why?

On the whole, the Park District's myriad programs already pay for themselves. Certain programs contribute to the General Fund in a substantial way, demonstrating that it is possible to run a profitable, revenue-generating enterprise within the Park District.

These programs could be used as models for other programs and functions, establishing a framework for generating revenue for the Park District to alleviate the need for fee increases or incremental tax financing.

To me, the optimal end result would be for Park District programs to manage themselves as self-sustaining entities, each responsible for its own P&L. Surely, not all programs will be able to operate this way, and exceptions will need to be implemented for the public good. Still, by leveraging volunteer contribution, staff cross training and resource pooling, the Park District should be able to achieve operational efficiencies while providing the excellent level of service that it does today.

Is there any additional open space the park district needs to acquire? Please describe.

Because the Eastern gateway is relatively "land-locked" in terms of open space with any potential for being incorporated into a Park District facility -- and because the housing market will ultimately rebound -- I believe that it is imperative for the Park District to consider reserving open space on the Western and Northwestern gateways to accommodate the needs of future St. Charles residents. Re-purposing existing commercial properties may provide one option for creating greenways and neighborhood recreational areas, but dedicated facilities will be required if St. Charles realizes any significant level of population growth.

The process of acquiring space for any future needs will not be a unilateral decision, so residents can rest assured that their opinions will factor into the process. Land planning for future facilities will be driven rationally by inputs from various sources, including resident surveys of Park District programs and the City's comprehensive plan.

Are there any unmet recreational needs? If yes, what are they and how would you propose paying for them? Or, should they wait until the economy improves?

The upcoming resident survey will illustrate to the Park District board and the Park Administration the collective viewpoint of St. Charles residents. With that hard data, we can re-assess the reach and efficiency of the programs which we currently offer and those that we need to offer. Personally, as a consumer of many Park District services, I feel that all recreational needs are being met through the tremendous variety of programs being offered today.

My forward-looking expectation is that the Park District may learn that it needs to expand its programs for older residents, in addition to maintaining the breadth of child and adolescent programs. If so, I will enjoy the challenge of establishing an operational plan to achieve both sets of needs while maintaining a balanced budget.

Would you support sharing/pooling resources (i.e. printing, vehicles) with other local governments (school districts, village, etc.)? If so, what areas would you consider combining or merging to save money or improve efficiency?

Co-opting capital resources with neighboring communities is one way to achieve operational efficiencies. From a consultant's perspective, when I look at the utilization of capital equipment in many large enterprise organizations, my analysis very frequently reveals a 20-30 percent opportunity for improvement either through consolidation or virtualization.

Aside from physical equipment or professional services consumed by the Park District, vetting all programs offered by the Park District in conjunction through an in-depth community survey will be another way that St. Charles can ensure that the programs we offer meet the needs of the community while minimizing underutilized programs.

If you are a newcomer, what prompted you to run for the park board? If you're an incumbent, list your accomplishments or key initiatives in which you played a leadership role.

I chose to run for this role to ensure that St. Charles maintains its stature as the preeminent town for families in the suburban Chicago area. Benchmarking our Park District offers against those of other park districts in the region, in addition to soliciting inputs from residents, will help St. Charles maintain the quality of life which we have enjoyed for many years.