Patricia "Patty" Gustin: Candidate profile
Name: Patricia "Patty" Gustin
Twitter: @Patty Gustin
Office sought: DuPage County Board, District 5
Family: Married with three children
Occupation: Realtor and paralegal
Education: Bachelor's from DePaul University
Civic involvement: Chairwoman Naperville Planning & Zoning Commission; Naperville Chamber Legislative Committee; Kids Matter Advisory Board; Naperville Downtown Advisory Board; Naperville Responds For Veterans; League of Woman Voters; DuPage Mayors and Managers Intergovernmental Planning Committee; Naperville Women's Club; Cress Creek Garden Club
Elected offices: Naperville City Council; precinct committeeman
Questions & Answers
Q. Why are you running for county board?
Because I truly love DuPage County and all she is. It's why my family moved here, why I am a businesswoman here, and why I volunteer year-after-year to serve her citizens.
As a District 5 board member, I will especially speak for Aurora, Naperville, Lisle and Warrenville. I know these communities very well. I have served them in volunteer and elected roles. Unlike some, as a businesswoman and a homeowner, I am literally invested in DuPage. I know how hard today's challenges are, the role of local government, and that we can only be successful together.
I'm ready to represent DuPage County from Day 1.
More than words and wishes, I actually have a record that proves you really can Trust-in-Gustin to preserve our achievements and build our strong future.
What issue particularly motivates me? Respect. We have some candidates with little or no record or knowledge for how to represent you. They feel because they run for elected office you should trust them with your families and taxes. But, a job license or single civic effort does not qualify anyone to oversee the multimillion-dollar county budget and services your taxes deliver.
I know who you elect must have the heart, ability and vision to represent you all the days after the election, not just to get your vote. To ably deliver first responders, schools, roadways, utilities, health care and housing, to name a few county functions. I am motivated to represent you both today and after the election. I respect that we make our county what it is, together. I respect your vote is earned, every day.
Q. Describe two ways you would contribute to the board.
First, as Naperville councilwoman, I never voted to increase real estate taxes. As a county board member, I will also vote to hold the line against increasing real estate taxes on our biggest personal asset (our homes) or our business properties.
Home budgets are already strained by government costs we must try to reduce. High taxes penalize the businesses that employ us, provide our rental housing, and that are the engines that, with their growth, reduce our real estate taxes by expanding the tax base. Smart growth avoids tax increases.
Second, as Naperville councilwoman I led efforts to improve technology to deliver better, faster and cheaper government services through online self-service for, as examples, payments and building permits. I also led efforts to move "smart" smoke, fire, and CO technology into our construction and remodeling requirements to, economically, enhance the safety of building occupants and our first responders by electronically interfaced devices that quickly and accurately announce emergencies. These are changes that will enhance safety and save taxpayer monies.
Q. Is there a specific service or amenity that is lacking in the county? If so, how do you propose to provide and fund it?
Because of the planners and leaders that came before us, DuPage County is blessed with an abundance of forest preserves, waterways and other natural features. We are blessed with cultural diversity and compassion. We are blessed with solid transportation systems, incomparable education institutions, and a strong business sector that is an engine for financial, science, engineering, and light industry growth.
So, our challenges aren't so much that we are missing amenities, rather they are how we preserve the quality of our existing amenities as more people and businesses move to our county to take advantage of opportunity.
Our choice is to welcome growth and opportunity for a larger county, or consider growth and opportunity negatives and try to ignore them.
Ignorance is not a choice. We built our county as we have to be an unparalleled place to live and work. People and businesses are logically drawn to our success.
We must now accept that we are challenged to grow our county in a manner that builds for tomorrow without sacrificing what we have achieved. Ignoring the challenge only ensures we will grow in a way that is lesser than the DuPage we all enjoy today.
We already have solid foundations to work from with existing county economic and growth initiatives, but as part of improving government efficiencies we can improve our relationships with business leaders, employers, municipalities, and organizations like the chambers of commerce and social service agencies to plan for tomorrow. With good growth the successes pay for themselves.
Q. With DuPage County's budget being squeezed by state funding cuts and other factors, what initiatives would you support to increase revenue and/or save money?
Government does not generate revenue, it allocates your taxes and fees to pay for and deliver public services. We must continue to press the state to pay its bills and stop shifting them to local government.
Until then, we have a few choices. We can borrow money today and pay a bigger bill later. We can pare the budget and find efficiencies that do not risk public safety and loss of needed services. We can increase revenues in a way that does not harm our businesses and residents. We can raise taxes and fees. Or we can do some combination.
For me, know that the last resort will be to raising taxes and fees. Borrowing is sometimes needed, but not just to kick the can down the road.
For the same reason, I disfavor a combination that includes these ways. Instead, the county must continue its job of holding taxes, paring budget excesses, and finding efficiencies through smart consolidation of government services.
Next, as discussed in the above question, through Choose DuPage and similar initiatives, the county is ahead of the curve by expanding the tax base through promoting new businesses, and helping existing businesses grow. This moves taxes and fees off residents and moves them to a commercial tax base paid from increasingly profitable business. Done correctly, this is a win-win for businesses and residents. Efficiency and smart growth are always our best answers.
Q. The county has been focused on consolidation of services and government agencies. How effective has that effort been and how could it be improved?
Illinois has the most layers of government of any state. We must never be complacent that we cannot do a better job allocating taxpayer money in better and more economical ways.
Chairman Cronin took the initiative to rally the layers of government to do better together. As like-minded leaders move from defending the status quo toward government efficiency, our successes will grow. County board members can take more active roles to seek partnerships with other units of government to reduce costs and duplications.
My experience as a Naperville councilwoman, Lisle and Naperville board member, and businesswoman built bridges of trust to join together for those efficiencies; perhaps with shared boards to oversee newly combined government services in a manner in which each local constituency is represented.
We also must better earn the trust of those we represent. As Naperville councilwoman, I have advocated for transparency, not just for what is before your government leaders and its way of business, but for where taxes are actually spent and why, so they are not lost in the bigger budget.
For example, Naperville broke out resident garbage collection fees in utility bills to hone-in on future increases that might otherwise be lost in other operating expenses.
It is critically important for people to know not just how their money is spent, but what things cost; it builds trust among the leaders and those they represent. By better explaining our functions and costs to the taxpayers, they better understand the quality of the services they receive, and they give better input to their elected officials.
Q. What is the single most important issue facing your district and how should the county address it?
Accommodating business growth so that the real estate tax base does not carry a disproportionate burden for the costs of government services. This is a subset issue of all the issues discussed above.