Ted Rodgers: Candidate Profile
Wheaton City Council North District (4-year Term)
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.
Office sought: Wheaton City Council North District (4-year Term)
Family: Married to Debbie Rodgers for 39 years. Father of Katy, a Wheaton small business owner and son Ted a newly sworn U.S. Marine.
Occupation: National Director Estate & Gift Planning, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
Education: B.A. Economics, Wheaton College M.A. Educational Administration, Ball State University
Civic involvement: #NAME?
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
I will be a champion for the North District. Residents feel that for too long the needs of the north side neighborhoods and businesses have not been a priority for the City. The North District needs a Councilman who will actively advocate for this District. Someone who is interested in and willing to listen to their issues and concerns, plus actively seek resident input on issues facing the City of Wheaton. The North District represents the city's distinctive heritage and history and it will be at the heart of its future.
Key Issue 2
The economic development of the downtown business district and North Main Street - one of the gateways to the City.
Key Issue 3
We need a bolder vision for all of Wheaton. The recent Downtown Strategic Study is unimaginative and timid about suggestions for the City's future development. Their "polishing the apple" mantra suggests status quo and a lack of creativity.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
I have lived in the North District for over 25 years. I am a strategic thinker and visionary. I am a citizen candidate, not a politician seeking higher office. My "ear to the ground" research tells me that North Side residents and business feel that their issues and concerns are not heard at the the Council level. I have the experience and ability to effectively represent them. I have extensive leadership and governance experience bringing people together to work to achieve common goals. My economics, fiscal management and leadership background give me the financial management skills needed to lead the city.
Given the delicate balance between the need for revenue and over-taxing local businesses, what is your opinion of your community's present level of local sales taxes? Is the tax just right, too low or too high? Explain.
Ask any city resident and they will always tell you taxes are too high. We must be vigilant to do all that can be done to keep taxes low while at the same time maintaining the city's fiscal integrity. Lowering the levy for the last three years, while at the same time maintaining the AAA bond rating is the right direction. We need to hold the line on the sales tax or even decrease it, however, the important issue going forward is to create an environment for greater economic vitality so that businesses downtown, on North Main Street, and throughout all of Wheaton can flourish in order for sales tax revenues to increase.
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.
The City of Wheaton is blessed with a relatively low crime rate and few major crimes. However, we cannot rest. We must continue to provide our community with the safety and security it needs and deserves. Yet, public safety is also impacted by the condition of our sidewalks, roadways, lighting, etc. Residents feel these important issues have not received the attention they should have in recent years.
In these tight economic times, municipal budgets have to be prioritized. Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed, and conversely, are there areas the budget does not give enough money to?
Administrative and personnel costs should receive annual scrutiny to be certain the city is operating on as lean a budget as possible. And, the city's excellent bond rating should continue to be carefully guarded and maintained. However, from resident interviews, it is clear that cutbacks in recent years in the public works budget are taking their toll. Every effort should be made to enact savings where possible or increase revenues to restore these cuts. As former House Speaker Tip O'Neil used to say, "All politics is local," and this is certainly the case on these issues. Residents are keenly interested in their street, their sidewalk, curbs and neighborhoods.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
We need leadership from the private sector and other stakeholders to develop a vibrant and strategic plan. My strategy is for the city to serve as a catalyst to bring these leaders together. It is widely accepted that we need destination venues, (a revitalized theater, destination retail, downtown hotel, etc.) This will only happen effectively with a bold venture of private and public cooperation in order to take Wheaton's future to the next level for the 21st century. In the near term, I am recommending two ideas that can be implemented immediately: 1. Brand, promote and provide signage for the city's two downtown parking garages. I recommend the garage on the north side of the tracks be branded/named for the Falcons and the one on the south side for the Tigers. Inadequate parking is frequently identified as a top issue by residents and business owners. We need to brand and promote the two downtown community owned parking garages to help residents, and especially visitors, know about them and how to find them. City officials frequently respond that these garages are available to solve the parking problems downtown. Yet, there are few promotional and directional signs in the downtown business core to get you to them. 2. Create the North Main Association under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce to facilitate communication and cooperation among and for the businesses on and near North Main Street.