Mark Thoman: Candidate Profile
Downers Grove Township Supervisor
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: Downers Grove
Facebook: Downers Grove Township Republican Ticket
Family: Married for 36 years to Jaci Thoman, with two grown sons.
Occupation: Small Business Owner for 28 years.
Education: BA from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb IL
Civic involvement: - Board of Directors, Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance 2007-now.
- Plan Commissioner, Village of Downers Grove 2015-2016.
- Comprehensive Plan ad hoc Committee, 2010-2011, and Comp Plan Update Committee, 2016, Village of Downers Grove.
- Downers Grove Township Senior Advisory Committee 2011-present.
- Downers Grove Township SALT Council 2011-present.
- Former adult scouter 1999-2004 including Scoutmaster, Troop 55, Downers Grove.
- Participant as resident and small business owner in Total Community Development 3, Village of Downers Grove, 2009.
- Rainbarrel Sale and Recycling Spectacular volunteer over several years, Village of Downers Grove.
Elected offices held: I was appointed by the Downers Grove Township Board of Trustees to finish the term of retiring Supervisor Frank Wurster. Prior to that I was a small business owner in the private sector for 28 years, and a volunteer to the public sector for as long.
Name the three most important goals or objectives this board should tackle in the coming term. Prioritize them, and briefly discuss why you believe each to be critical, and how the board should go about addressing them.
The number one issue with our Township never changes, as it should be for every taxing body: fiscal responsibility. We do that. Downers Grove Township maintains a balanced budget with no debt.
The second goal is continue accessibility of Township mandated services to all of our residents. The mandated programs are General Assistance, road and bridge maintenance, and managing over 58,000 assessments of property parcels.
The third goal is also an every-year goal: build on success and accountability, and increase our transparency by utilizing our brochures, senior services pocket pal, our senior Banner News, resident newsletter, dgtownship.com website, and other outreach efforts.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
By state statute, Township responsibilities are both clear and basic:
- Provide accurate valuation and records on over 58,000 properties in the Township, and keep those valuations current, fair, and accurate.
- Maintain over 70 miles of roads year-round in unincorporated areas.
- Provide specific and limited General Assistance to permanent residents of the Township.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
Compared to any other level of government, Townships are the better deal. I supervise a Downers Grove Township run by Republicans. With four Trustees and a small but efficient office, Trustees approved an annual levy that is flat, our budget is completely balanced, we asked for no increases...and we're abating $60,000 back to the taxpayer. That's a course of action worth voting for.
Township Government is the most efficient, least costly governmental body. We have no debt, so every dollar we spend does something for taxpayers instead of doing nothing but paying debt.
Our portion of your tax bill totals less than two cents on the dollar. Downers Grove Township takes care of 70 miles of unincorporated roads and does it at a lower cost per mile than any other level of government. We also pass-through almost 50% of our Road budget to our municipalities.
We assess and keep records on over 58,000 parcels, more than any other Township in DuPage County. We maintain specific General Assistance for permanent residents, small support that helps them stand back up and get back to their lives.
We collaborate with AARP on Driver Training for Seniors. We have a great group of volunteers that run our annual Car Checkup Clinic with Public Safety departments in the Township. We even host the FISH Pantry in our basement at the Prince Street Township BUilding.
In so many ways Townships are needed for the role they serve residents -- as neighbors, and as your neighborhood government.
Are there any township offices that should be eliminated or consolidated?
Downers Grove Township has over 15,000 unincorporated residents, the fifth largest population of our Township. With 146,500 residents, we're larger than 50 counties in Illinois.
The Highway Commissioner leads a small work team maintaining 70+ miles of roads at the lowest cost per mile of any level of government.
The Assessor office keeps accurate property records on over 58,000 parcels, updating them every three years.
Human Services works with several school districts providing life skill training, adolescent education, and peer jury review, all at minimal cost to the taxpayer.
General Assistance helps Downers Grove Township permanent residents every year who need a helping hand.
As Supervisor, my main job is Treasurer for all departments, tracking and auditing all department expenses monthly, annually preparing a balanced debt-free budget for the Board's review and approval. I am in charge of General Assistance, and every year file fully audited Consolidated Annual Financial Reports to the state Comptroller.
There are almost 1,000 taxing bodies in Illinois that are not required to file any annual financial reports. Those taxing bodies should be eliminated or consolidated into local government units that keep, audit, and file proper financial reports.
There are also Townships unique to Cook County, existing completely within municipalities, that have no roads or Assessor function. Those can be absorbed by municipalities. DuPage County Townships aren't like Cook County Townships. Downers Grove Township has part or all of 10 municipalities within the Township borders.
Can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
Downers Grove Township tax burden is less than two cents of each dollar on your property tax bill. We have partnered with not-for-profit groups like FISH to help provide food and clothing for the needy. Tax deductable charitable foundations help support senior social services and the two Township cemeteries. We successfully applied for and receive a federal grant supporting part of our youth education efforts. We continually evaluate what we do and how we do it, to provide the most efficient use of tax dollars.
One thing we did eliminate is debt. Downers Grove Township is completely debt free, has a true balanced budget, and abated back to the taxpayers almost $60,000 for the upcoming year. All taxing bodies should be debt free and have truly balanced budgets.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Working through the next few years of frozen property taxes will be a challenge. Townships get less than two cents of every tax dollar. We do not create and enact user fees, utility fees, and taxes. We don't have TIF districts either. To get through this we need a team that can work cooperatively together.
For 28 years I've constructed and implemented budgets working in the private sector, and led a diverse group of competitors to work cooperatively towards common goals. That's a skill set the Township will benefit from over the next few challenging years as talk of consolidation creates friction and opportunities for residents and municipalities in Downers Grove Township.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
State Rep David Olsen. He's young, has boundless energy, and is a natural problem solver. Illinois needs more like him. A lot more like him.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
My long arms were useful at a crowded dinner table.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
The exact same things, with no regrets.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
High school: choir. If I want to be heard I will be heard.
College: journalism. When I dig, I dig deep.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Live your life well, take your time, enjoy the journey.