Michael Olson: Candidate Profile
Lisle Park 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.
Facebook: Candidate did not respond.
Family: Married to Jennifer for 10+ years. Two children, Josephine (8) and Jonathan (6).
Occupation: Commercial banker
Education: B.S. Finance, DePaul University
Civic involvement: Green Trails Improvement Association - Board Member (2008-Present)
West Suburban Community Pantry - Board Member (2016-Present)
Elected offices held: None
Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
I chose to run for the Park District Board because my family and I enjoy so many of the programs and amenities that Park District offers. We have visited parks throughout the District and enjoyed various programs and classes.
Open space and recreation is an important part of our community and should be available to all residents, regardless of economic status. I want to give back my time and expertise to ensure that the District continues to be well run and provide those benefits to the community for many years to come.
How do you assess the state of the district's finances? What, if any, changes do you propose to alter the district's financial picture, whether through cost reduction or revenue increases? Please be as specific as possible on where you would propose cutting or how you would propose increasing revenue.
I would not suggest any immediate cost reductions or revenue increases at the Park District.
One financial item I believe warrants consideration and analysis is the retirement of bond issuances for the Sea Lion Aquatic Park and the Enterprise Fund. While not an immediate opportunity, the removal of these obligations provide an opportunity to reduce the tax levy or consider additional capital items for the District. If elected, I would weigh input from the community on thoughts and suggestions between those two options, as well as recommendations from Park District staff.
The property tax freeze that is under discussion in Springfield currently, presents a potential challenge to municipal budgets, including the Park District. While only proposed as a temporary freeze, my understanding is that during the proposed freeze, any additional tax levy would require a referendum.
A referendum would be less than ideal, so a focus on fee increases for programming or cost reductions would become a primary objective. I would be in favor of a combination of fee increases for specific programs and cost reductions in order to offset any inflationary costs that could not be made up by a higher property tax levy as a result of the tax freeze.
What programs aren't paying for themselves? Would you keep, eliminate or change them? How and why?
I am aware that the Park District utilizes a Cost Recovery Analysis, which is used as a benchmark for program charges, continuation of existing programs, and new programing. I would look to this formal analysis as a guide for determining changes to existing programs, in addition to input from staff of the Park District.
Are there any unmet recreational needs? If yes, what are they and how would you propose paying for them?
Based on my discussions with members of the community as I have been campaigning, I have noted satisfaction with the recreational services currently provided. This aligns with my family's experience with the Park District.
I look forward to hearing from more members of the community about their thoughts about the level of services that are provided and if more or less is desired from the Park District, while weighing the social costs of removing services and the financial costs of expanding services.
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.
My family has participated in numerous programs at the Lisle Park District since we moved to the area in 2006. We have explored parks not only in Green Trails, but throughout the Park District over the years.
My family has given back to the Lisle Park District by sponsoring memorial trees and bricks, but I would like to give back more than just financial contributions. I have learned from my time on the Green Trails Improvement Association board and the West Suburban Community Pantry Board of Directors the value of service to an organization providing public benefit to others.
I chose to run for the Lisle Park District board to provide my experience to help this organization continue to provide the programming and service my family has enjoyed.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I would like to review what additional opportunities that there may be to work further with the Lisle Partners for Parks Board. My family and I have made financial contributions to assist in the mission of providing funding for capital improvements within the parks as well as for financial assistance for needy families.
I believe that outdoor recreation and programs for all residents is important for the entire community. If elected, I would like to seek ways to continue to further the Partners for Parks mission.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Honesty and integrity are valuable traits.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I would have started a business during college or after finishing college.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Economics. It lead me on a path to investing at a young age and toward a degree in finance, with a minor in economics.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Maintain your integrity. Like toothpaste out of a tube, once it is gone you can't get it back.