Steve Alesch: Candidate Profile
Warrenville 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.
Family: Father of two grown children, grandfather of one
Occupation: Software engineer for more than 35 years
Education: Bachelors and Masters Degree in Computer Science
Civic involvement: - Volunteer, Warrenville Friends of the Fourth - Member, Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, DuPage Chapter - Supporter, Friends of the Great Western Trails - Founder, DuPage Coffeehouse Monthly Community Discussions - Founder, DuPage Move to Amend - Founder, Illinois Move to Amend - Founder, Social Justice in DuPage
Elected offices held: Warrenville Park District Board Commissioner
What programs aren't paying for themselves? Would you keep, eliminate or change them? How and why?
We are a small Park District and are very focused on being fiscally responsible, so there aren't any current programs I'm advocating to cut. There are a number of sports and exercise programs available to children and adults at the Warrenville Park District and we are always looking for new programming ideas from residents.
Is there any additional open space the park district needs to acquire? Please describe.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, the Warrenville Park District has a relatively low amount of open space per capita, which was cited as a reason for the denial of a renovation grant for one of our parks a few years ago. In my first term on the board I have been a strong advocate for looking for affordable opportunities to acquire more open space. While Warrenville is surrounded by open spaces with some of the area's most beautiful forest preserves, having open spaces within the district, especially within walking distance of residents' homes, is important to both the quality of life for our community as well as our district's fiscal health. Given that property values are still depressed, there may be opportunities to acquire open space at lower costs, both from private owners and other units of government. Whatever opportunities exist, we need to keep taxpayers in mind. Even small increases in tax bills can be incredibly burdensome to families, so with each project we have to ask 1) can we realistically finance this without burdening the taxpayers 2) do the people within our district want this 3) does this improve the quality of life of our residents. The other part of the equation is, we must protect the open space that we currently have.
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?
Under the direction of the board, the Park District recently completed a community survey and we are about to complete a 5 year master plan. We have identified numerous recreational needs. I would support adding a frisbee golf course and expanding nature trails. I am also a strong advocate of building a park that would not only be popular among Warrenville residents, but also draw residents from throughout the metropolitan area. One idea I have suggested is an English Garden, which could be rented out periodically for wedding ceremonies, which would bring revenue to the Park District. Another popular idea in recent public surveys is to build an indoor and/or outdoor aquatic center. The board plans to investigate the fiscal feasibility of such an endeavor.
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?
The Park District already has several agreements with the City and School Districts in that we maintain sports fields and parks owned by the City and School Districts. I support more intergovernmental agreements between the City, School Districts, and Forest Preserve to expand open spaces.
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.
As a first term commissioner I have provided direction and leadership in improving the energy efficiency and sustainability of the Warrenville Park District. As a result of my suggestion, a Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) audit of the Park District was held, which identified several areas for improvement, such as LED lighting for the Recreation Center parking lot. If re-elected, I will remain vigilant in directing the staff to implement additional energy efficiency improvements because it saves taxpayers dollars and creates a healthier planet for our children.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
It's about community! I originally decided to run for election for public office because I wanted to contribute something positive to my community. I feel as strongly committed to that vision as I was four years ago. While our park district is small, it is vitally important to our quality of life, and I will continue to protect our parks from both overly optimistic expansion, as well as unnecessary, cynical budget hatcheting. I will continue to protect the quality of our parks as they currently exist, while making thoughtful, sustainable, well timed and sensibly financed improvements to facilities and programming. I will also continue to bring an independent voice to the board.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Bill McKibben, the Founder and Senior Advisor at 350.org, an organization that is building a worldwide global warming activist movement
What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Paying more attention in history class. In later life I've found studying history to be fascinating.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Math, which has served me well in my 35 year software engineering career
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Follow your passion and treat others with kindness and generosity