Matthew J. Steward: Candidate profile
Name: Matthew J. Steward
Office sought: Village President
Age (on election day): 40
Occupation: Client Account Specialist at Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, and Adjunct Professor at Dominican University teaching Business Law and Career Development
Education: JD, 2007 from The John Marshall Law School; MBA, 2007 from Dominican University; BA, 2001 from University of Illinois at Chicago, Political Science Major/Philosophy Minor; Class of 1996, Conant High School; Class of 1992, Margaret Mead Junior High School; Class of 1990, Michael Collins Elementary School in Schaumburg
Civic involvement: Commissioner on the Olde Schaumburg Centre Commission, a zoning board for Schaumburg's downtown historic district
President of the Board of Directors at Resources for Community Living in Rolling Meadows, IL, a non-profit assisting developmentally disabled adults to live independently
Executive Committee Board Member on the John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors
Board Member for First Financial Servicing, a Credit Union Servicing Organization
Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts of America, Troop 493 (Michael Collins Elementary School in Schaumburg)
Previous elected offices held: None
Twitter: No candidate account yet
What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
Lowering property taxes is on everyone's minds and the way to get there touches on several issues facing Schaumburg all at once. When Schaumburg's property tax levy was instituted it was billed as a way to recover lost sales tax revenue from the recession while helping us stimulate the economy by paying for the Convention Center. Now online shopping is impacting sales tax revenues so we need a new plan to stimulate revenues aside from just relying on the Woodfield and the Convention Center.
Rather than just continuing with past policies that place too many eggs in too few baskets, I propose to expand to a variety of innovative solutions while continuing to investigate all options further to help us find the right and best solutions out there. I'll keep that process transparent by sharing all information publicly. While fully aware of the limitations on what can be done by the Village President, I will strongly advocate on our behalf, getting us in on important discussions. These include working with commercial property owners and managers to come up with creative ways to attract more businesses and using the increased sales tax revenue to lower Schaumburg's portion of your property taxes.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
I'm the only candidate born & raised in Schaumburg where my friends can attest I've talked about running for mayor forever. Since I know I'm qualified and more than capable, I figured why wait! I know other villages have ladders where it's just handed to the next person in line but I embrace the choice we have in Schaumburg on Election Day.
With a genuinely grassroots campaign, I know I'm the long shot but that also means I'm one of you, a fellow neighbor turned citizen candidate. I know I'll bring the same care and concern to this role you'd bring if you were elected. Democracy provides the electorate a choice for just that kind of representative government. I also don't owe anyone anything nor am I a politician who will ever have a hand out or in your pocket.
I love Schaumburg but think we can always do better so I now feel called to serve as its time for me to give back to our community in even more meaningful ways. I'm running for Village President in part to provide you a great choice for our future. Please vote for me to be a good Steward for Schaumburg!
Describe your leadership style and explain how you think that will be effective in producing actions and decisions with your village board.
I already have executive experience in public service as the President of the Board of Directors for Resources for Community Living, a Non-Profit helping developmentally disabled adults live independently who aren't severe enough to qualify for state aid and would otherwise slip through the cracks. I'm both the youngest board member and the Board President as I have a knack for assessing all solutions presented to come up with not only the most innovative and successful decisions possible but also the one that builds the most consensus. My leadership style involves hearing all sides, educating myself and my board fully of the ramifications of the choices presented, and when using humor when appropriate to keep debates from ever becoming hostile while also moving us ahead.
I plan to bring this strong sense of inclusion to help the Village Board and Staff become even more approachable than they are now in order to better listen to the concerns of our citizens and businesses alike without a bias toward or against anyone or most any issue. I look forward to residents sharing their ideas with me and getting to know me better to see what I plan to offer our great community!
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?
Page 56- "Total current outstanding bonded debt for FY 2018/19, which includes principal and interest, is $464,034,178 of which $385,087,861 relates to the Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center." We owe almost half a Billion dollars when our budget in total is less than a quarter of a Billion, and only $8 Million went toward debt. It's as if a median income household at $75,000 owed $150,000 but only paid $2,400 on it all year. A mortgage payment of $200 a month sounds great but it'll never get you off the hook with the bank. To add insult to injury, the budget also has a deficit of $11 Million this year alone.
I'll explore taxing vehicle charging stations and implementing more of them to get out ahead of the state at replacing any fuel tax revenue lost to electric vehicles. We should look to see if we are over-adequately staffed in any service areas to not only reduce salary expenses but also the pensions that go with having more supply than demand requires. I have the skills needed to do this as I currently help run the Finance Department of a law firm with a budget the size of the village's.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Income inequality may not seem like a hot button topic locally based on what other candidates are talking about. I was raised in a home where toward the end of my dad's life my mom was the major bread-winner and, for a time before and after his passing, the sole source of our household income supporting 4 kids, 2 of whom have special needs, which is why I'll also always advocate for access to Mental Health Care. I'm therefore highly sensitive to the need for equal pay for equal work. To that end, I will enforce policies ensuring income equality, not just for village employees but also for vendors bidding on projects within the village. I firmly believe this is an issue we need not wait for the state or federal government to act upon when we can start making impactful improvements in this important area at the local level!
The training I received as family moderator makes negotiating with attorneys and board members easy by comparison. I believe we should broadcast Executive Sessions held after public board meetings close. This sets me apart as the only candidate who means it when I say transparency will hold elected officials accountable.