Rich Kulovany: Candidate profile
Name: Rich Kulovany
City: Downers Grove
Office sought: Village Commissioner
Family: Married for 46 years, 3 adult children, 10 grandchildren
Occupation: Formerly a Vice President of Sales for a medical Software company. Currently a part time Management Consultant and ride-share driver
Education: Adult FastTrack at College of DuPage
Civic involvement: Downers Grove Plan Commission Member, Treasurer and Board Member of The Downers Grove Historical Society, Board Member of Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance
Previous elected offices held: Township Trustee, DuPage Township
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? No
What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
Approximately 313 people leave Illinois every day. A major contributing factor is the high overall tax rate. The Village of Downers Grove has done a good job of keeping the costs for operations flat for the last eight years and even though the Village portion of the tax bill is second lowest among surrounding municipalities, our real estate tax burden is increasing and will continue to do so due to our state mandated pension obligations. A new stormwater ordinance was passed, but we will continue to see major stormwater issues. Parking downtown is a serious issue that is driving shoppers, diners and their tax revenue away. We also need a new police station and Village Hall. The biggest problem I see is how will the Village deal with these problems when the taxpayers are averse to paying higher property taxes.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
I am up to speed on all the issues related to the Village of Downers Grove because I have attended approximately 80 percent of the Village Council meetings for 3 ¾ years including the budget, long-range plan and facilities workshops and have regularly attended stormwater and other Ad Hoc Committee meetings. I have served on the Downers Grove Plan Commission for the past 2 years and on the Zoning Board of Appeals for 18 months before that. Due to my volunteer involvement I have interfaced with all of the current Village Council Members and senior Village Staff.
I was in sales management/executive positions in the enterprise application software industry for most of my career. Much of my management experience was national and global, where I had a significant responsibility. I was a member of senior leadership teams in headquarters offices. I have dealt with complex issues and understand the budgets and decision-making process of multimillion-dollar operations and to think through the ramifications of those decisions in advance.
I possess sound judgment and a reasonable approach to problem solving. I am also an enthusiastic champion for Downers Grove and that comes across in the way I communicate and interact with people.
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.
I am very much a consensus builder in the way I approach problem solving. I do my research in advance and form my positions objectively and based on facts whenever possible. I elicit and am open to input and creative ideas from others. I have met with each of the current Village Council Members on a number of occasions regarding village issues. I believe I am well liked and respected by all of them and recognized as a hardworking and thoughtful volunteer for Downers Grove. The council members have seen me at most of the meetings for nearly four years now. I have participated in the workshops and have spoken at numerous village council meetings. As the former Chair of Friends of the Edwards House, I was an active participant in the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Historic Preservation where my input during public comments helped craft a compromise that won unanimous support of the committee and the village council.
I am not a politician and I have no political opponents currently on council or those who are now running for Commissioner or Mayor. I don't believe in factionalism and will not serve that way if elected.
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 financial condition of the Village of Downers Grove is in good shape. This is evidenced by our AAA bond rating. However, the Village is faced with declining general sales tax revenues while costs are increasing due to the state mandated pension obligations. Approximately half of the required stormwater capital projects are being funded. Also, additional parking is required downtown for diners, shoppers and commuters. We need to expand the tax base through thoughtful and high-quality economic development downtown and at the catalyst sites. The Village should move to zero based budgeting to ensure the most efficient use of tax dollars. We should apply for state and federal grants to fund important projects and lobby Springfield for our fair share of sales tax and motor fuel tax revenues. We should aggressively pursue intergovernmental cooperation to share costs. We should continue to investigate alternatives to replace declining tax revenues.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Understanding that we are competing with other municipalities, I believe we need to enhance and preserve that which draws people to Downers Grove and make it a destination. We should ensure that Downtown is developed in an amazing way that will include alcoves, seating areas, outside and rooftop dining that will draw diners, shoppers, new residents and quality new businesses to Downers Grove. Buildings should be of high quality and durable materials that will enhance and not detract from surrounding buildings. We should have a say in how our downtown is developed.
We need to investigate ways to incentivize developers to retain as many mature trees as they can and to replace those that must be cut down. In other words, let's not change the very fabric of Downers Grove by removing the grove.
Finally, we need to expand the celebration of and advertising for all the wonderful historic homes and commercial buildings we have in town. This would involve the Economic Development Corporation working in conjunction with local historic preservation groups like the Downers Grove Historical Society to develop walking and driving tour applications to make Downers a tourist destination.