Nicole Walus: Candidate profile
Name: Nicole Walus
City: Downers Grove
Office sought: Downers Grove Village Council
Family: Husband, Mark; 2 daughters ages 3 and 5
Occupation: High school special education teacher
Education: Bachelor's in Music, History/Secondary Education; Master's in Teacher Administration, Masters Degree in Teaching and Learning with a concentration in English as a Second Language
Civic involvement: Member of Downers Grove Rotary Club since 2014
Previous elected offices held: Downers Grove Village Council since September 2016
Incumbent? Appointed in September 2016; elected in Spring 2017 to a 2-year term.
What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
We have a few important issues facing our community. One, is the continued challenges due to revenue sources not keeping up with growth in expenses. We will need to continue to get creative in this regard. Maintaining high service levels, such as ISO 1 for Fire and Calea Gold for police is very important to me. Additionally, I think we will need to continue monitoring our stormwater situation. We did strengthen these regulations as a council on October 2018 and will need to monitor its progress. Parking also continues to be an topic in our downtown as well as planning for the long term future of our downtown. This year, the village will conduct a parking study as part of a larger future of downtown project. Once that is completed, we will have an idea how to best address these issues.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
After 2.5 years on Village Council I have now established background knowledge on issues our Village has faced and have been part of the team to formulate solutions for many of these. I believe that I am a good communicator, and I'm able to work together with people with varying skills and attributes. I know the importance of compromise. I am patient, and kind. I believe if we treat our residents with respect and civility, we are able to better respond to challenges our community may face. I'm a firm believer and advocate of lifelong learning and understand the importance of continued personal and professional growth.
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.
With a career as an educator, I would say my leadership style is that of a "servant leader." This type of leadership style calls for the leader to not only concern themselves with the success of the organization, but also has a responsibility toward stakeholders. It requires: being sensitive to other's concerns, acting in an ethical manner, and treating other people with respect, fairness, and honesty. I think this leadership style is effective in serving a municipality because it balances being people-focused with making sure the Village as an organization is successful.
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?
Since serving on council, our Village has maintained a balanced budget, and AAA bond rating. However, some major revenue sources have been declining and not keeping up with expenses. If we want to maintain service levels, we will need to continue to get creative with ways to increase revenue. We have already implemented a 1 percent Food and Beverage Tax.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
One of the reasons people move to Downers Grove are for our public schools. Given that both our Village and our school districts will be seeing growth and change over the next several years, I would like to find a better way to collaborate with District 58 and District 99 to make sure we are effectively and efficiently serving our residents to the best of our ability.