Theresa Sullivan: Candidate profile
Name: Theresa Sullivan
Office sought: City Council
Family: Married with three children
Occupation: Professional Career Advisor at Wayfinder Advising
Education: BBA in Management Information Systems from the University of Notre Dame ('98); MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business ('04); , MS in Marketing from Northwestern University ('06)
Civic involvement: Precinct Committeeman, founded a local Super PAC (Illinois Citizens Ignited) aimed at alerting local voters about members of Congress who accept money from the gun lobby, Home and School volunteer, Lisle Township Democratic Organization
Previous elected offices held: Lisle Township Precinct Committeeman (present)
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? N/A
* What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
Most people come to Naperville because it is an excellent city to raise their families. I want to keep our community centered on that idea. Four areas of opportunity for the city are furthering sustainable development, public safety, government transparency, and fiscal responsibility. My specific plans for addressing these areas can be found on my website at sullivanfornaperville.org. The bottom line is that we must ensure that all types of families find our city safe and welcoming, with plenty of employment, educational and cultural opportunities. Residents' voices and needs should always be as important as those of our larger businesses. As a careful steward of our city's finances and resources, I intend to put our community's safety, the efficacy of our services and the well-being of our residents at the forefront when making policy.
* What makes you the best candidate for the job?
I'm very heavily invested in Naperville. I'm a lifelong resident, wife, mother of three school-age kids and my parents and siblings are still living in Naperville. I am an honest, earnest and dedicated person deeply committed to honorably serving the community that raised me, and that is now raising my children. I am an entrepreneur operating a nationwide career advising firm from my Naperville home office. In that role, I listen carefully to clients and help them build fulfilling careers, which provides an intellectual and emotional skill set needed to be an effective representative of Naperville families. I have both deep technology and business expertise with an MBA and MS from Northwestern, which is a skill set unique to the current council. I have no professional, financial or social conflicts of interest with any commerce or contracts that are currently or potentially before the city council. My conflict-free status will empower me to make impartial decisions that are in the best interests of residents. Voters can trust that my decisions on council will be carefully considered, that I will listen to what them and that I will vote on what is best for my constituents with no other agenda.
* Describe your leadership style and explain how you think that will be effective in producing actions and decisions with your village board or city council.
I value three attributes in my life that make me a natural leader. First, I believe in accountability. I take responsibility for my choices and behaviors. If I want something to change, then I do what I can to change it instead of blaming others or hoping somebody else will step up. Second, I believe in acting in alignment with my values at all times. Honesty, equity, and compassion are important values for me that I will not deviate from, no matter how much pressure there may be to behave otherwise. Finally, I believe humility is essential. That's true in life generally and is especially essential in public service if one is truly looking to serve their constituents. There is always something to learn from others and additional perspectives to consider and respect in our vibrant, community. Nobody has a corner on all the 'right' answers. So I ask, I listen, I learn and I consider what other people have to say so that I can integrate it into my perspective to make the best possible informed decision. These three traits enable me to work effectively with varying groups of people, including other council members, city staff and residents.
* How would you describe the condition of your community's budget, and what are the most important specific actions the town should take to assure providing the level of services people want?
Naperville's financial position has been much improved over the last several years since the last recession. Much work has gone into making Naperville more resilient for the next recession by putting more money in reserves and retiring debt, allowing the city to reduce energy costs to residents. I would like to see the city continue that trend. One area in the budget, in particular, that I would like to explore further is the taxpayer monies earmarked for the Naper Settlement and the Naperville Development Partnership. Both groups are financed by the city, but the city has little or no oversight into the workings of these groups or how that money is spent. Without that transparency, we don't know if there are cost-saving opportunities to share services or if these entities could contribute more of their own funding through new revenue-generating opportunities to ensure the city dollars are being used properly for their support.
* What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
I believe Naperville should implement an software-based app to better optimize the commuter parking we currently have around the train stations. We need to accommodate a larger proportion of commuters and phase out an antiquated permit process that is inefficient and unfair. The commuter parking challenges at the Naperville station have lasted for decades without any meaningful resolution. Several thousand Naperville residents depend on the train to get to work every day and we have a 14-year wait list for permit parking at the station and most daily parking spaces are gone by 6:30 am, leaving those taking later trains with few options. Commuters should be able to count on parking when they need it, instead of letting spaces go unused and going to unnatural lengths to find reliable parking each morning. As the city faces important decisions about the development of the land around the train station/5th Avenue, we need to know how much commuter parking is actually necessary and help commuters connect to it. My technology background at Deloitte, IBM, and LinkedIn lead me to believe there are viable technology options available to address this situation.