Gopal Lalmalani: Candidate profile
Name: Gopal Lalmalani
City: Oak Brook
Office sought: Village President
Family: Wife Neetu, daughters Puja and Sapna, and son-in-law Andrew Segal as well as 3 grandkids (Arya, Veda, and Alexander)
Occupation: Cardiologist, and Village President, Oak Brook.
Education: MD, FACC, MBA
Civic involvement: Have served as Village President (Oak Brook) since 2011, and prior to that as Plan Commissioner (Oak Brook) for 5 years. Prior to involvement in my community, I was involved with the Du Page County Medical Society (including as its President and Chairman of the Board), Illinois State Medical Society, and American Medical Association as well as National President of the American Association of Physicians of Asian Indian Origin and President of American Indian Association of Illinois.
Previous elected offices held: As above. Since 2011, I am serving as President, Village of Oak Brook.
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? YES, first elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2015.
* What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
Oak Brook is at a crossroads. I see 4 critical challenges:
First, with McDonald's departure from Oak Brook, we are left with a large hole in our commercial activity and several large vacant properties will need to be repositioned or redeveloped.
Second, like many suburbs, we are seeing the flight of other corporations to the city of Chicago.
Third, the burgeoning growth of e-commerce is reducing purchasing in our brick and mortar stores and forcing many traditional retailers to close stores, downsize, or go out of business.
Fourth, all of these factors are adversely affecting our Village revenues, especially sales tax, and threaten our ability to continue to provide the high quality of service our corporate and residential citizens desire and deserve.
This will require the Board and I to be proactive, business friendly, and to think outside the box, so as to attract new businesses that would generate revenues including high end restaurants, hotels, stores, and other facilities that will attract visitors to come to Oak Brook to wine, dine, and shop in our town. We will need to embrace modern and prestigious housing developments with unique architectural designs (including condos in our commercial district) that will bring in new residents who will then spend their money locally.
* What makes you the best candidate for the job?
I bring in the experience that I have had the past 8 years to carry through in meeting the challenges outline in the first question above. With my steady hand and cool mind, I would like to continue the progress. I have had real life business experience for several decades. I have always been engaged in our community, and always available to meet residents, both residential and commercial. I have not missed a single Village Board meeting over the past 8 years. During these challenging times, doing nothing or standing/sitting still is not an option.
I have also kept my pledges over the last 8 years, and that is: no new taxes. I will continue to pledge to no property tax, no food and beverage tax, no soda tax, etc., etc. I'm also opposed to gas tax that Springfield and some Mayors are lately talking about. I will continue to maintain our low sales tax and low hotel tax. I made these pledge in 2011, and again in 2015, and have kept the pledges, and will do the same for the third term.
* 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.
During the past nearly 8 years as Village President, I have shown a consistent record of collaboration, consensus-building, inclusivity, and professionalism. I have acquired the art of listening patiently to both our residents as well as the Board members and senior staff. When I was first elected in 2011, there were many problems and issues that needed to be addressed; chief among them was restoring civility and order to a Village Board that had become contentious and nonproductive as well as our Village staff that had lost its morale. We have accomplished much, and most of the problems and issues I confronted when I came to office in 2011 have been successfully resolved. However, there is still much to be done and several new challenges as well as great opportunities that continue to need my attention and need to be addressed. Hence, I have decided to seek a third term to follow through on unfinished business.
* 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?
Our community's budget has been very healthy over the last nearly 8 years I have served the Village. The Board and I remain committed to conservative spending while investing in our community. The projected ending cash balance for 2019 in the General Corporate Fund is $17.5 million, or a record 9.3 months of operating expenses, which far exceeds our Village policy that requires us to maintain a cash balance of 6 months of operating expenses. We have continued to provide the high level of service that our residents expect and deserve. In the face of spiraling pension costs, we always look at ways of trimming expenses wherever we can, and enhancing revenues. Moving forward, we need to look at all avenues to keep our commercial corridor vibrant and dynamic, and look at new economic development that will keep Oak Brook a cutting edge and unique community that it is.
* What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
This a real hard question since our residents, our Board and I, as well as our staff, have regularly explored every possible way to enhance and better our community. For me this job is about service and sacrifice for the larger and best interests of our community. One thing that no one is talking about is the fate of the McDonald's main campus and the corporate offices. I would move mountains and heavens to ensure and facilitate that it stays under one new owner and that it does not get broken up to several pieces. Obviously, ultimately it is up to McDonald's what it ultimately wants to do with this prestigious campus including the beautiful Hyatt Lodge. No one yet is talking about the outcome of this imminent sale, but I sure will do everything humanly possible to keep things the way they are under one new single owner.