John Rabchuk: Candidate Profile
St. Charles 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: St. Charles
Office sought: St. Charles Mayor (4-year Term)
Family: Married for 40 years to Cheryl, two children (Lindsey Hayes and Ben Rabchuk, three granddaughters. Lived at same residence in St. Charles for 37 years.
Occupation: Principal, The Caddis Group LLC Providing entrepreneurial consulting services and merger and acquisition advice for privately held construction materials producers throughout the United States.
Education: BA, Business Administration, University of Illinois 1972 Center for Entrepreneurial Development, University of Illinois- Chicago - graduate
Civic involvement: Downtown St. Charles Partnership - Board of Directors St. Charles Mental Health Board - Chairman River Corridor Foundation - Treasurer 2013 St. Charles Comprehensive Plan Task Force - Vice Chairman First Street Plaza & Streetscape Design Committee - Chairman St. Charles Kiwanis Annual St. Charles Bluegrass Event - Board member Annual St. Charles Downtown Walk-about Task Force 2011 St. Charles Strategic Planning Task Force LivingWell Cancer Resource Center - Volunteer American Cancer Society - Volunteer Northern Illinois Special Olympics - Volunteer Kiwanis Day in the Park - Volunteer Bob Leonard Annual 5K Run/Walk - Board member
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
I have provided leadership that has produced real, measurable positive results on each of the civic and business organizations that I have served . Over the next four years, the city will face numerous opportunities to enhance the health and vitality of the community. Selecting a mayor who has demonstrated the passion and a clear commitment to the civic and business organizations that comprise the infrastructure of St. Charles will be critical in creating a vision for the city and then building a consensus on the optimal method for attaining that vision. My leadership experience includes creating and building successful retail and national businesses as an entrepreneur, developing new prioritization and funding allocation formulas as chairman of the mental health board, helping the River Corridor Foundation triple their membership and fundraising, providing leadership to the development of the Comprehensive Plan Task Force and leading the team that developed the First Street Plaza.
Key Issue 2
The city must establish a clear, yet flexible vision for reinvigorating our local economy. The list of underdeveloped and non-performing economic centers in St. Charles is growing each year, which places a larger and larger tax burden on the residents. This includes the Charlestown Mall, the stalled First Street development, the old St. Charles mall site, the Valley Shopping Center (Grimm's) and the central downtown area in general. While some of the economic stagnation that we have seen in St. Charles is undoubtedly the result of national economic trends and issues, we also need to address challenges that we can control. This may include helping to implement components of the draft 2103 Comprehensive Plan identifying changes to the traffic flow and parking at Charlestown Mall. These changes may create an opportunity to identify out lots that could be developed in the immediate future without being dependent on a grand scheme for the entire mall redevelopment. Or, working constructively with the owner of the old St. Charles Mall site to develop a balanced mixed use master plan for that specific site as well as the adjacent property to the south that conforms to the 2013 Comprehensive Plan guidelines. And, working with a new set of developers to design and implement a plan for completing the First Street Development in a manner that creates the critical core of retail enterprises and residential units necessary for a successful downtown environment. We can enhance the vitality and health of the entire downtown area by implementing programs that utilize the natural beauty of the Fox River Valley and our cultural amenities as economic engines. This might include my recent initiative to transform St. Charles in a regional cycling club and/or creating an interactive park-like facility along the river as a key component of completing the First Street development .
Key Issue 3
Reinvigorating our community by enticing young professionals and high tech businesses to our downtown as part of a long range vision, while attracting retail operations that broaden our tax base in the short term. St. Charles has been recognized as the number one city in Americas for raising a family by Family Circle magazine, but there is more that we could be doing to keep us ahead of other communities while also enhancing the overall economic, civic and cultural environments. Creating and implementing a plan of providing weekend entertainment throughout the summer on the First Street Plaza; implementing my recently announced plan to establish St. Charles as cycling hub for northern Illinois and creating STC Corps as a community-wide volunteer resource bank are a few of my ideas to create synergistic energy through St. Charles. These types of programs can be quickly implemented at little or no cost and a yet have dramatic impacts on our entire community. They can also help us welcome new manufacturing and service industries looking for a highly educated and energetic workforce that are attracted to St. Charles because it is such a great place to live. Additional resources to supplement my vision for St. Charles may include embracing an educational institution and/or providing ultra-high speed Internet connectivity to our downtown district as an enticement for encouraging high tech business investment.
Under what circumstances, if any, should financial incentives, including TIF districts, be used to lure residential and commercial development to the city?
The potential use of financial incentives to lure developments to St. Charles is just one of many tools that the city may need to successfully enhance the health and vitality of our community. TIF financing may be applicable when it is determined to be a necessary component of effort to attract a specific development proposal. Prior to considering any use of financial incentives however, the city must carefully evaluate and analyze the unique risk factors of each situation. For example, a pay-as-you-go TIF structure has significantly less risk to the financial health of the city than the use of a debt to prefund the incentive. As the national economy continues to recover there will be a competitive environment between cities to attract the best developments. Instead of waiting for these opportunities to present themselves, the city must take an aggressive approach of internally analyzing and understanding what types of tools, including financial incentives, that it realistically has at its disposal and the limitations inherent to the overall financial health of the community. Then, when these opportunities are presented, the city can quickly react from a rational, predetermined position of strength to lure the most desirable projects.
What is the future of Charlestowne Mall as you see it? Would you support the use of eminent domain by the city to gain control of the property?
Eminent domain is a tool of last resort. As vice chairman of the recently completed 2013 Comprehensive Plan Task Force, we designed and proposed a number of scenarios that may lead to a successful redevelopment of the Charlestown Mall. It is important to remember however, that for as empty as the interior store fronts are, the mall also encompasses successful enterprises; notably Von Maur, Classic Cinema, Carson's and Kohls that we don't want to lose or inhibit. I believe that we can work with a new ownership team (the mall is rumored to be for sale) to reconfigure the roadways around the mall to create out lots that could be quickly developed in a manner similar to the Yorktown Mall and the Fox Valley Mall. The development of these out lots is not as complex or expensive as a complete mall configuration and would create a synergy conducive to an accelerating pace of economic activity for the entire east side economic area. Development of these out lots may be include additional types of housing, retail strips and/or destination restaurants such as a premium steakhouse.
Are you comfortable with the mix of taverns and the conduct of their patrons in downtown St. Charles?
The issue is one of enforcement and a clear understanding by all parties of the rules and the consequences when those rules are broken. I believe that St. Charles currently has the necessary laws and ordinances required to control these establishments. These laws need to be strictly enforced with progressively severe punishments (including the potential for long term or permanent liquor license suspension).
What aspects must a redevelopment of the old St. Charles Mall property include? Would you support any level of residential development on that property?
The city should not predetermine limitations on certain elements (including housing) for a development proposal for this site. Successful redevelopment will require a balanced proposal that may well include retail, office and residential; possibly including nearby properties. This site does not have direct Randall Road access or visibility which might attract a retail/commercial-only approach. The types of retail which are probably best suited for this site will require a substantial portion of their clientele to be located in very close proximity to the site. The overall site design needs to carefully transition with the existing neighborhoods and to recognize the need to incorporate transportation, green space and overall environmental components that minimize the impact of redevelopment on those surrounding neighborhoods.
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.
Identification, treatment and management of the broad range of mental health related issues. This includes suicides and self mutilations within our youth population, bullying, drugs, and the national issue of horrific violence in our schools and communities in general. We have a wonderful and talented network of social service agencies in place within our community. As chairman of the St. Charles Mental Health Board, I have had the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with many of these agencies and I know all too well the appalling statics of underfunded and loosely managed mental health related issues. I believe that the city can play a significant role in helping to address the underlying issues involved. First, the city can play a major role in public awareness campaigns that reinforce the role that the community in the whole has in containing (and hopefully eliminating) these issues. Second, I believe that city needs to work with other governmental bodies at the county, state and federal level to restore priority funding for the programs that have been proven to have successful results. And third, I believe that it is a requirement for the city to aggressively integrate our youth in the fabric of our community through such programs as my proposed STC Corps, making overt efforts to include them in a meaningful and rewarding way in our civic functions and creating opportunities for them to advance economically and socially within our community.
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