Jeff Craven: Candidate Profile
Itasca Park Board
Back to Itasca Park Board
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.
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Twitter: Candidate did not respond.
Facebook: Candidate did not respond.
Family: My wife Melody and I have 3 kids and 2 grandkids. We both grew up in Itasca and raised our kids here also.
Education: University of Illinois - Chicago
Civic involvement: Current Itasca Park District Commissioner. Active member of the Itasca Lions Club. Current Friends of Springbrook Nature Center Board member. Past member of the Itasca Police Pension Board.
Elected offices held: Past Secretary, Treasurer and President of the Itasca Lions Club.
20 years as a Commissioner of the Itasca Park District.
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 am running for re-election to continue the progress that we have made in the Itasca Park District over the last 20 years. There are no particular issues or problems at this time but there are numerous plans and projects in process that I would like to continue to be a part of and see to completion.
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.
The district is actually in very good financial shape due to the close supervision of our tax and program revenue as well as our active management of the debt and bond issues. The current Board spends a significant amount of time reviewing financial information including monthly revenue and expense reports, detailed reports of monthly programs and their related financial recaps and monthly comparisons of actual to budgeted results.
Cost cutting is an ongoing directive, emphasized and managed daily by the Executive Director and her staff.
In addition to a very significant amount of time spent on the annual budget, at least once per year, the Board reviews the pricing of major programs and along with the recommendations of the staff, determines whether fees should be increased, decreased or left the same.
As the only CPA on the Board and with my background in corporate finance and human resources, my experience has been very helpful on numerous occasions over the years.
What programs aren't paying for themselves? Would you keep, eliminate or change them? How and why?
Right now, all programs do pay for themselves but that is not to say that everything that the district does is intended to show a surplus. Some events, like the various holiday activities, are put on for the benefit of, and at no cost to the residents.
Every program is evaluated at its conclusion to determine whether it should be kept or changed. If it is a material program, staff will make a presentation to the Board with a recommendation to keep, change or discontinue it.
Are there any unmet recreational needs? If yes, what are they and how would you propose paying for them?
The current Board and staff are very responsive to the needs and requests of our patrons. This includes adding new equipment, programs and services on a regular basis. The annual budget includes the maintenance and replacement of the smaller pieces of equipment as well as line items for the larger capital type of expenditures. At least every few years, the Board directs the staff to conduct a full, whole district, study and we do more frequent smaller questionaires to ask the residents and patrons what they like, don't like or would like to see added to the park district's offerings. At this time, there doesn't seem to be any significant needs that aren't being met.
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.
I am most proud of providing a first class park district with a wide variety of recreational options that have been both fiscally responsible and responsive to the needs and requests of the district's residents and patrons. For a district of our size, we have a great reputation, a great bond rating along with responsible debt and solid fund balances. I believe that my personal financial experience and fiscal conservativeness have played a material role in helping to get the district to the good place that it is in today.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
As a candidate, resident and taxpayer, it is important to me that the district continue to be fiscally responsible while providing great parks and recreational and educational activities and programs for the benefit of all.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Unfortunately, there is no one at the present time.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
A job worth doing is worth doing well.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Spending more time with family and friends.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Music/chorus and it has continued to provide many hours of enjoyment.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
The harder you work, the luckier you get.