Patrick Kelly: Candidate profile
Name: Patrick Kelly
Office sought: City Council
Family: Married for three children
Education: Bachelor's Degree in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law with a Certificate from Chicago-Kent's Program in Environmental and Energy Law
Civic involvement: Member of the 5th Avenue Steering Committee, West Suburban Irish, DuPage Children's Museum NextGen Board, Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, Young Professionals Netwrok Advisory Board, Naperville Jaycees
Previous elected offices held: N/A
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?
I believe that the most important issues facing our city are: (1) responsibly evaluating large development projects such as 5th Avenue, Wagner Farms and the Polo Club that are building in the midst of established neighborhoods; (2) preparing to renegotiate our electric contract with the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency; and (3) how to maintain a balanced budget that continues to reduce our debt while maintaining our excellent city services, particularly our superb police and fire departments. I intend to address those issues by: (1) meeting with residents to understand how new developments can work with existing neighborhoods to ensure adequate infrastructure is in place; (2) using my experience as an environmental attorney to bring subject matter expertise to the complicated process of renegotiating energy contracts; and (3) collaborating with fellow council members and city staff to find efficiencies in delivering current services and searching for long term improvements.
* What makes you the best candidate for the job?
The combination of my professional experience and community service makes me an ideal candidate to serve on City Council for the next four years. While serving on the 5th Avenue Steering Committee, I have worked with my neighbors, City Council, city staff and the potential developer in an attempt to make the project one that will truly benefit the community. More than simply say I will listen to residents and represent their interests on City Council, I have actively been a voice for residents for the past year and a half, and would continue to provide that voice as a council member, both on 5th Avenue, and other significant upcoming developments. When considering how to address the IMEA contract and potential renewable energy sources, I will be able to draw on my background as an environmental attorney, including an externship with the U.S. EPA, which I think makes me uniquely qualified to help make those important and long lasting decisions.
* 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.
My leadership style focuses on collaboration. I have a reputation both in the legal community and through my community service work as a leader who will listen to all ideas. I work hard to bring people with different ideas together to arrive at a result that will be a success for everyone involved. As an example, within my neighborhood, I have spent countless hours bringing together groups and individuals with differing priorities to try to find a solution that will make it safer and easier for children to walk and bicycle to school without having to use the busy and dangerous underpasses under the train tracks and Washington Street or Mill Street.
* 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 current condition of Naperville's budget is that it is balanced and has been managed fairly well over the past few years. The last two City Councils have worked hard to balance the operating budget, reduce debt and build up cash reserves. Moving forward, we must continue to pay close attention to our levels of debt and cash reserves, as many economists are predicting another recession within the next few years. As for providing services, I think that the city needs to have an open dialogue with residents to determine what is most important. Many residents have told me that the police department's response time to non-violent calls has increased, and in conjunction with a significant number of upcoming police retirements, City Council must be very cognizant of maintaining sufficient staffing of patrol officers.
* What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
One program that I think needs to be closely examined and changed is the Naperville Renewable Energy Program. I have a passion for renewable energy, but this program needs to be more transparent in how the funds contributed by residents are used. Currently, residents can voluntarily contribute to the program, and are led to believe that their contributions directly lead to adding clean energy from renewable resources to the Illinois electric grid. In reality, the way the program is currently operated is that funds are primarily available as grants to local businesses, and the fund currently holds about $1.0 million. While the goal of the program is admirable, anytime residents entrust the City with their money, the way in which the the money is (or is not) used must be completely transparent. In this case, because residents make the contributions that fund this program, the funds should be used for public projects that will benefit the city as a whole, or any grants should be available to residents before businesses to help offset the cost of residential solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, etc.