Joe Cantore: Candidate Profile
DuPage Forest Preserve District 2 (Republican)
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: Oak Brook
Office sought: DuPage Forest Preserve District 2
Occupation: Co-owner and property manager of a commercial/industrial real estate company, co-owner and property manager of a residential apartment complex, co-owner of a laundry equipment route company.
Civic involvement: -Former Commissioner, Oakbrook Terrace Planning and Zoning Commission, (2 years, 1996-1998) -Member, The Conservation Foundation -Member, Illinois Arborist Association -Former Volunteer Teacher, Marmion Academy (2 years) -Volunteer, ?Meals on Whee
Elected offices held: -Commissioner, District 2, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County (2002-present) -Chairman, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Recreation Committee (2 years) -Former Alderman, City of Oakbrook Terrace (4 years, 1998-2002)
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Continued support of the agency mission, conservation, recreation and education. Currently, we lead the nation in many components of these primary goals. As examples, our restoration efforts on the West Branch of the Du Page River are unparalleled, and we now have a state of the art archery range (funded primarily through grants) that is now one of the premier facilities in Illinois and perhaps the Midwest. Finally, our education programs, particularly ?Observe Your Preserve?, are setting a standard that educators and natural resource agencies alike are heralding as the best of the best.
Key Issue 2
Continued support of long term management and planning with programming and capital improvements. The Forest Preserve?s land acquisition program has slowed down considerably in recent years. Consequently, much of the focus of long-term management and planning should now be placed on how to keep what we have up to the standards the taxpayers have come to expect from their forest preserves and what programs and improvements will enhance their overall preserve experience. These programs and improvements are important for our future generations. We as stewards need to be planning 50 and 100 years into the future, not just the here and now.
Key Issue 3
The District?s financial condition. The District?s financial condition is one of our main priorities and must be monitored and maintained. The District operates on a five-year financial plan and I am happy to report we are not only fiscally secure now, but will be for years in the future. Remaining fiscally solvent and prudent through long term financial planning and management takes foresight, and the board needs to plan accordingly instead of ?kicking the can down the road?. The District continues to enjoy a triple A bond rating because of the conservative fiscal approach it has taken the past 8 years. The board needs to continue to guarantee this fiscal responsibility now and in the future guaranteeing good stewardship for years to come. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is one of the few local governmental entities in the state operating at a surplus. The state and federal government certainly can?t say that.
Do you support continuing the effort to acquire County Lakes Golf Club in Naperville? Why or why not?
The Forest Preserve Commission will have to weigh and measure the costs of continuing to pursue this acquisition. When the District began this acquisition years ago, they did it for three main reasons: -Maintaining open space in an area of the county that did not have nearly as much as other parts of the county -Stormwater retention in an area that was plagued by flooding issues -To provide recreational opportunities in one of the most densely populated areas of the county Unquestionably, the people in that part of the county need more open space. However, the District has already incurred significant expenses in attempting to acquire it. My continued support (or lack thereof) will be dependent upon projected future expenses. In these tough economic times, when people are losing their homes, business, and jobs, I don?t know if people are interested in government buying golf courses. Even though the reason is to acquire more open space, I am still going to have to look at this acquisition with a careful and prudent eye.
Should the district be in the golf course business? If so, please explain the benefit. If not, please detail why. Should the district consider selling any of its holdings?
Not necessarily. Although the Downstate Forest Preserve Act allows Forest Preserve Districts to own and manage golf courses, in some situations it is the only opportunity people have to enjoy open space. Golf alone, is not the reason Forest Preserve Districts own golf courses, it is the access to open space, flood control, and the other ancillary benefits. One of the main functions of our golf courses (which many people don?t realize) is storm water retention. Literally, the golf courses are in large part why the surrounding areas (and homes) don?t flood during significant rain events. At Oak and Maple Meadows the storm water retention and resultant protection for surrounding residents is essential. I would prefer a native landscape, but if the only opportunity to preserve open space is through a golf course, they do become important.
Comment on the forest preserve's current land acquisition policy: Too aggressive? Too passive? Just right?
Our current land acquisition policy is just right. We look for properties providing connecting linkages for trails, inholdings in existing preserves, buffers along stream corridors and those areas vital in the protection and preservation of our natural resources. During my tenure on the board I have been ardently opposed to the use of imminent domain or condemnation and, except in extraordinary circumstances (such as clearing the title for a willing seller), am still opposed. Other priorities include maintaining our position as the leader in environmental ethics, education, restoration, and compatible recreation. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is currently considered one of the finest Special Districts in the nation. We must strive to continue to provide opportunities for all of our constituents. When I was first elected, I made 5 core promises based on what I believed were the core issues facing the Forest Preserve at that time. They included: -Acquiring more open space -Making preserves more accessible to the public -Implementing sensible environmental management -Holding the line on taxes and spending -Stopping the practice of forced condemnation of private property I?ve kept these 5 core promises throughout my tenure in office and believe these 5 issues are still of paramount importance. I pledge to not only continue to achieve these goals, but also to adapt and address new issues as they arise.
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