Patricia Gustin: Candidate profile
Name: Patricia "Patty" Gustin
Office sought: Naperville City Council
Family: I grew up on Chicago's Southside, Brighton and Marquette Parks. During WWII my dad emigrated from Lithuania (our family is honored in the Washington and Tel Aviv Holocaust Museums for helping those fleeing genocide). I am one of 6 children. We all learned to work at the family's Sinclair gas station and auto repair business. I married my husband, Greg, an attorney, in 1989. We soon moved to Lisle and then Naperville to raise our son (engineer) and 2 daughters (attorney and soon-to-be teacher). Our son's wife is also an engineer, and they have 2 amazing pre-school children. We are also excited that our daughters are both recently engaged. Ours is a proud, large, growing, diverse family with Indian, Hispanic, Chinese, and African-American members. And, we love all of our furry, scaled, and finned family members, too.
Occupation: Real Estate Broker & Paralegal
Education: DePaul University -- BA Business; Roosevelt University -- Paralegal; Thomas Kelly High School -- Chicago
Civic involvement: Chairwoman Naperville Planning & Zoning Commission; Lisle Planning & Zoning Boards; Naperville Chamber of Commerce; Naperville Chamber Legislative Committee; Kids Matter Advisory Board; Naperville Downtown Advisory Board; Naperville Sister Cities Commission; Naperville Responds For Our Veterans; Xilin Association; League of Woman Voters; DuPage Mayors and Managers Intergovernmental Planning Committee; DuPage Mayors and Managers Regulatory Issues; Mainstreet Organization of Realtors Grievance, Professional Standards, and Legislative Committees; Naperville Women's Club; Cress Creek Garden Club; Naperville Healing Fields of Honor -- Operation Support Our Troops; Bike Bald; Naperville Alzheimer Walks; Naperville Pancreatic Cancer Walks; Voices of Hope; Naperville Singing for Seniors; Exchange Club of Naperville; Jaycee's Last Fling volunteer; Parishioner Sts. Peter & Paul and Grace United Methodist Churches, Naperville; and others.
Previous elected offices held: Naperville City Council
Incumbent? Yes. If yes, when were you first elected? 2015
What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
This election your vote is the most important issue because it elects the majority of the City Council -- 4 Council members and the Mayor -- that can make all the City's policy decisions and direct the City's vision. So, know which candidate earned your trust, respect, and shares your vision for Naperville. Your vote can also change the Council's character. I was 1 of 4 women elected to Council in 2015; as half the Council, a Naperville first, we brought a fresh focus. Of 3 women up for re-election, only I chose to run. Why? I believe women's views keep a balance. We are businesswomen, and mothers, sisters, and wives. I fought for our families, kids, and you in limiting tobacco sales to age 21, confronting the opiate crisis, protecting our pets, preserving our heritage, resolving the $6M budget deficit and balancing it every year after, and dropping City property taxes to 50-year lows. I speak-up for the voices feeling left out of development planning, for all our neighborhoods, for our youth, our vets, and elderly. As your Councilwoman I will keep working in our community, not behind a desk, for our today and tomorrow. Our work together continues.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
My record proves I respectfully and consistently work to achieve our vision to keep and grow Naperville as an accepting, safe, resident and business community that respects our past, eagerly pursues our smart growth, and delivers needed government services with fiscal responsibility, all to secure our community's future. When elected to City Council 4 years ago promises were made and kept. We abolished City Council pensions and healthcare benefits, closed the City's deficit, balanced the budget, retired debt, built financial reserves, saved the AAA bond rating, cut costs, cut staff to decades-lows, and cut your City property tax to 50-year-lows. I fought for you, often as a minority voice, to groom City development in the manner you actually want. I serve on the 5th Avenue storm water and traffic working groups, and now a group to enhance the DuPage Children's Museum role. I believe elected public service is not an entitlement for the inexperienced, or to fight for one issue, or to be a yes-man for another's agenda. It is to represent you. I kept my promises to you, I kept our vision, and I promise to earn your vote every day that you trust me to serve our community.
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.
As Councilwoman, I lead by example. I get out in the community to get the facts and views. I test City staff, and query my colleagues, community leaders, and other stakeholders. I seek and respect all needed input before deciding for those I represent. I take care to not use my position to overreach, or for personal gain or ego, but to reach the best result for all of our community. Decision-making consensus is to be pursued, and our deliberative record shows we seek to reach consensus long before final City Council meetings. But, at the end of the day, I make the tough decisions that you elected me to make, and I make the record why. Throughout, I am mindful that my Southside upbringing taught me to be respectful of the people that actually do the work (our employees), and the people that pay for the work (our taxpaying residents, businesses, and visitors). I don't ask more of them than I do of myself. I respect that I was elected to be a leader for us all. As your voice on City Council, I earn your trust and vote every day.
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?
The City's financial health is, in many ways, the strongest in decades. We adopted and review our financial principals to retain the City's AAA bond rating, reduce debt, and build reserves. All goals are on track and the bond rating is secure. We adopted a new pension funding process that will relieve pressure on the budget and restructured new hire pensions. We reduced staff to the lowest level in years, filled the inherited budget deficits, and balanced the budgets each year after. We placed our electric and water utilities back on solvent footholds, and have begun to reduce electric charges through efficiencies. We moved rising-cost budget services, like waste removal, to transparent utility bills to better show service costs and budget needs (and we should revisit needs to make hardship exceptions for seniors and others). A temporary home rule sales tax, mostly paid by non-resident visitors, funded many of these budget successes. So, financially our community's budget is the best in years, but, since Naperville is almost built-out, our future solvency and tax reductions still rests on greater business growth along the Ogden corridor and other commercial vacancies and sound residential property efforts. Our successes have just begun.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Create a Naperville IT Citizens Advisory Board to identity more areas for IT-based efficiencies, and team with a Naperville business to expedite the City's IT efficiency improvements. Our citizens are technologically savvy, we have IT businesses in our own community, and our City's IT efforts lag. My passion is to move all of City government away from "how we've always done it" mindsets to efficient, cost-saving IT. We've begun the process, but we need to move more quickly and deliberately. We implemented the "Socrata System" to improve transparency, engage residents, and encourage innovation by making meeting minutes, first responder calls, and other data available on-line, to the public. The City made strides with "What Works Cities" to further enhance operating transparency. But, we can do better on the operating efficiency front. Some City bills and fees are still paid through outdated on-line and manual processes. Our building permit process only goes partially on-line this year. I succeeded in the City adopting Building Code updates allowing smart smoke/CO2 devices in remodeling avoiding significant construction costs and improving contractor, homeowner, and first responder safety. Our work has just begun, and efficiencies can pay for the up-front costs.