Finance, business are Bartlett candidates forte
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Editor's note: This is one in a series of profiles of mayoral candidates in the Northwest suburbs that will run in coming weeks.
Kevin Wallace has maintained a pretty busy life since moving to Bartlett in 1993.
He's owned a business, held leadership roles with the chamber of commerce, coached and managed youth sports, stayed active in various civic organizations and, at one point, dedicated hours of his time each week to training for marathons. The 47-year-old said through it all he has learned balance.
"You literally have to make sure you have good time management," he said.
Wallace hopes to bring that skill and others he has learned while wearing many different hats to the role of village president this spring. He is one of three candidates running for the open position.
Wallace said he is an "exuberantly positive" person who is respectful toward others and a good listener.
"I think I have an outgoing, open-minded personality," he said. "Over the years I've stretched that."
The youngest of six kids, Wallace grew up in a small town in southwest Iowa. He spent much of his time working on farms and remembers using food stamps because his family lived on meager means.
Upon graduating from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, in 1987, he moved to the southwest suburbs for a job and a few years later moved to Bartlett with his wife.
"It was a good fit for me," he said of the village, explaining that he enjoys the lack of traffic, nice restaurants and accessibility to a train that runs to Chicago.
During his time in the finance field, Wallace said he has done a lot of hiring, firing and employee reviews. He has faced the circumstance of having to let go co-workers who had become close friends.
"Those are just really sincere experiences that are very valuable in understanding how organizations operate," he said.
Wallace now works as a mortgage consultant but once served as the vice president of a regional bank with eight branches. He also started a mortgage company that grew from three to 30 people. He said knowing "the struggles of being a small-business owner" and having gone through "the emotional roller coaster of running a business" will help him in future leadership roles.
He added that he decided early in his career that it is important to be open to opposing views and other people's ideas.
"I learned from people who were 'my way or the highway' type of leadership," he said. "It was not very good for the retention of employees, it wasn't good for morale. I've seen that and I don't like it."
Lessons continued when Wallace joined the Bartlett Chamber of Commerce in the early 2000s. He said serving as treasurer and chairman of the board gave him great experience, as has his time serving as a commissioner on the village's economic development commission.
"It was a constant learning program through the chamber, primarily because of the fact you try to pinpoint people on the board who have expertise in areas you're weakest and you try to ask them if they'll step up and provide leadership in that particular area," he said.
Outside of work and business, Wallace is very involved in youth sports. For years, he has served as a coach and manager for his children's — ages 16, 14 and 11 — basketball, softball, football, baseball and lacrosse teams.
Coaching youth sports, Wallace said, has unintentionally helped him grow as a leader and listener.
"Listening to all sorts of complaints coming from the parents, and the ability to separate that and manage that without affecting the kids that you're trying to encourage to do their best — that has been a very valuable thing," he said.
Bartlett Little League President Seth Lewis said Wallace has done a great job getting kids and adults to work together. He described Wallace as gracious and believes Wallace's ability to form a successful team and communicate would help him in a political position.
"Kevin is very well-respected, very well-spoken and is a definite community leader in everything he does," Lewis said. "He has that in youth sports and I see no difference in his commitment to village politics."
• To see all our coverage of the Bartlett village president race, including candidate bios, go to https://www.dailyherald.com/news/politics/election/race/Bartlett-Village-President/.
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