Russell Kraly: Candidate Profile
Round Lake Village Board
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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: Round Lake
Family: Married to Connie for 47 years; 4 children, Todd, Denise, Scott, Cheryl; 11 grand-kids.
Education: Licensed BOCA/ICC Building Inspector; Licensed Electrician; US Navy Drafting School 1966, US Navy I.C. Electronics "A" School 1965;
Civic involvement: Coached baseball & softball at Avon Township for 12 years; coached football at Round Lake Area Park District for 10 years; Round Lake H.S.Panthers Booster Club, Round Lake Area Jaycees, Knights of Columbus - St. Joesph's Church;
Elected offices held: Trustee, Round Lake - Present; VP & Secretary, Police Pension Board - 2006-14; Grand Knight, Financial Secretary -Knights of Columbus Council #8214; Director, Northern Illinois Building Officials - 2005-07; Trustee, Round Lake Beach - appointed 1973 - re-elected 1975; President, Round Lake Beach Zoning Board of Appeals - 3 different terms for 11 years; Secretary, Police Pension Board, Round Lake Beach - 197-72; President, Round Lake Area Jaycees - 1972-73 & 1978-79; General Manager/Head Coach, Lake County Vikings Semi-Pro Football Team - 1991-97;
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
I've served my communities in various positions for over 40 years; have been a Trustee for a couple of terms and understand what is expected of a Trustee. Have also worked as a Village employee and understand the issues and concerns an employee has. Since I'm retired, I have the time and energy to contribute to the Village in what-ever capacity I can best serve.
What is your opinion of your community's present level of local sales and property taxes? Is the tax just right, too low or too high? Explain.
The economy right now is still poor, there are still a lot of people out of work, and the people who were out of work and fortunate to find jobs are, for the most part, making a lot less than they did before. Some people have to work two or more jobs to try and make ends meet. The Village is operating on a very tight budget, and as much as we need and would like more funds, it's unrealistic at this time to put anymore of a burden on the citizens of our Village.
Rate the efficiency of your town's police and fire coverage. Are the departments well prepared for the next decade? What, if anything, should be changed? Do you have specific public safety concerns?
I've lived and worked in the Round Lake Area for 47 years, and because of my employment with several of the Villages, I've been fortunate to have worked with the Round Lake Fire Department many times in difficult conditions. I think the leadership of the Department and the men and women employed are the best you can find. They are a dedicated group of people that are professional and caring in the duties they perform, second to none. The Round Lake Police Department is fortunate to have Chief Gillette at the helm, guiding and leading our Officers, with the caring and compassion he brings to work each day in our community. He has re-organized the department and has done things in the community I've never seen another Chief do. He truly leads by example in protecting and serving the citizens of this Village, we are in great hands.
Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed, and conversely, are there areas the budget does not give enough money to?
We need more funds to address many areas, but the funds are not there, I'm afraid it might be this way for a while. The Finance Department has cut and trimmed our budget to the point there is no more blood to bleed. We are understaffed in the Police and Public Works Departments, employees were reduced, no raises or benefits increased for years, we are now operating with understaffed Departments. We now have three Unions representing these Departments, and after some long negotiations, we have contracts in place that ensures the employees will be fairly compensated for the work they do. The budget was increased this year 1.8%, which we needed to cover the cost of the contracts and increased operating costs in general. We have to remember, we are a business, and we need to operate as a business. We have fixed costs for the day to day operation of the Village, and if we cannot bring in new businesses and increase our sales tax, it falls on the backs of the citizens to bear the burden of the expenses. Someone once said to me, "You're a Village Trustee, you don't pay taxes, so you don't care what the taxes are!" We (Mayor, Clerk, Trustees) pay the same taxes everyone pays, no discounts or refunds, so if we raise taxes, we have the same burden the citizens have! We need more money to fix buildings, replace equipment, hire people, and that's what makes this job challenging.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
We need tax dollars! The best way is new business! In my term as Village Administrator, we were lucky to have 17 new businesses knock on our front door and ask if they could come into the village. The Mayor and I joked that we'd lock the door to my office until we could get a commitment from them to join our business community! Beggars can't be choosers! Years ago, with a great economy, you had lots of rules and could pick and choose who you wanted in the community and where they would go. Not today!! Very few people are taking the gamble and starting new businesses or moving existing ones, so when you are lucky that someone casts a shadow across your front door, you better sit down and listen to them and see how and where they will fit into your business community. We have filled our empty stores in the downtown and added a few new businesses to our Industrial Park. We want the citizens of our community to stay home and spend their hard earned dollars here! The local businesses will thrive and we get the benefit of the tax dollars! The number one business we need, and the Mayor and the rest of the Village Board agrees, is a grocery store!! Right behind it are any and all stores that will keep our residents home spending their money in their community. This will keep our taxes down!!
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
None, I think I've expresses above what I think are the most important issues.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Cardinal Francis George.
What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
You need to work hard for what you want, set your goals and work for them.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Math...used it just about every day in my positions.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Life is bumpy, with twists and turns. You have to maneuver what it throws at you and keep your eyes on the goal.