Savannah Smith: Candidate profile
Name: Savannah Smith
Office sought: Ward 8 Alderman
Family: Husband Scott, children; Graham (5) and Julian (2).
Occupation: French and Spanish Teacher
Education: BA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Teaching of French with an endorsement in Spanish. MA from Concordia University Chicago in Educational Administration
Civic involvement: Member of the Illinois and Indian Prairie Education Associations. Member of the American Association of Teachers of French, WVHS PTA
Previous elected offices held: NA
What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
The 8th ward of Aurora is a wonderful place to live! My focus will be to continue to support the wonderful things that we have going on. I will maintain the high quality level of public safety that we have, by continuing to support our police and fire departments. I would like to continue to try to attract commercial development, in an effort to keep our taxes from increasing. We want to avoid unnecessary tax increases, so I will look for environmentally conscious ways of reducing spending.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
For the last 15 years, I have served the community as a high school teacher within the ward at Waubonsie Valley High School. I have had the opportunity to get to know countless families through coaching, leading the Gay Straight Alliance and teaching French and Spanish. I have a master's degree in Educational Leadership, and have experience with management, maintaining a budget and organizing events.
I am very involved at WVHS, and proudly support my students' athletic and artistic endeavors by attending various events throughout the school year. I strongly believe in the mission of IPSD 204, and hope to be able to serve and support the district from the city council. I truly believe that Aurora's diversity is its strength. I want to be a voice for young families like my own, and all residents of the ward.
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.
Being a good leader means recognizing and celebrating the strengths of those around you, and consistently trying to improve. As a coach, I had experience in resolving conflicts in order to keep everyone focused on the larger goal. As faculty sponsor of the Gay Straight Alliance, I have been able to help young people develop their leadership skills, and have many insights into group dynamics and the negotiations/compromises that are often a necessary for achieving an organization's goals.
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 budget of the city is facing potential difficulties because of the changing marketplace. Retail shops are no longer the reliable source of tax income that we once knew. The challenge moving forward will be to mitigate the loss of this income, by continuing to reduce spending elsewhere, but also by trying to attract commercial development. We need to encourage redevelopment or re-purposing of vacant retail space.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
I would like to look in to environmentally conscious alternatives to road salt. I know in my ward, snow and ice removal during the winter is always a source of stress and consternation. I think, to the extent the city's not already doing it, that we should investigate the use of beet brine or other additives to the de-icing mixture used in the winter time. I believe many communities in the Midwest have been using beet brine, which benefits both the environment and budget by reducing the amount of salt applied to city streets.
I am also interested in whether the city can devise a cost-effective way to implement some sort of simple, community public transit system, like a trolley service, that could provide easy access between Aurora's more remote neighborhoods and its revitalizing downtown, which I think is particularly important for young people and seniors.