Joe Skurla: Candidate profile
Name: Joe Skurla
City: Tower Lakes
Office sought: Trustee
Family: Wife: Jacquie Skurla, 3 daughters, 11 grandchildren
Education: BS in Chemical Engineering
Civic involvement: Trustee the past 7 years.
Previous elected offices held:
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? Yes, appointed to fill Trustee vacancy in 2012, elected in 2013 to fulfill the unexpired term and reelected 2015.
What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
Tower Lakes is a small village providing residents with a natural environment and yet the feel of an interactive neighborhood. The main job of the village board is to preserve this unique character by focusing on three important areas which I believe are essential to this: Security and safety, harmony and infrastructure. My top two concerns are: (1) Managing and maintaining an aging infrastructure within increasing budgetary constraints and (2) Ensuring our ordinances are relevant to a changing and diverse population and are consistently applied. My current areas of responsibility are roads and storm water management. Prior to that I had public health (primarily mosquitos), storm water and waste collection. My approach is to ensure all projects are prioritized based on community safety and asset protection and are designed to provide maximum cost effectiveness. On general board issues such as ordinance creation and amendments I try to understand the impact on village security and harmony and that our ordinances can and will be enforced in a fair and equitable manner while listening carefully to the concerns of the residents. We also need to be fully aware of the experiences of similar villages and towns and incorporate this knowledge into our process.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
We moved to Tower Lakes in 1986 and were involved with the Tower Lakes Improvement Association from that point until business needs took us away from the Midwest in 1993. We had the experience of raising a young family in a wonderfully supportive environment where everyone looked out for each other. In 2008 we had the opportunity to site the headquarters of a new business to a number of candidate cities. To us, Chicago was the obvious choice because it met the business needs and brought us back to Tower Lakes. We returned with the perspective of empty nesters who were astonished at how Tower Lakes was very similar to what we left but now with a new generation of young families raising their children and taking leadership responsibility. Not surprisingly, our youngest daughter brought her growing family to the village about the same time we moved back and it has been wonderful to watch this cycle of life continue. With an engineering and business background and a full appreciation for what Tower Lakes has been and continues to be, I understand what it takes to preserve our village character for the future.
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 would describe my leadership style as collaborative. No one person has all the answers. We need to look to experts to advise and the residents to help lead us to sustainable solutions. Communication starts with listening. This has served me well in business and continues to serve me well in working for the village and coordinating with other government bodies such as Cuba Township.
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 budget is tight as are all the surrounding communities. Since we do not have home rule we cannot raise additional taxes and I would not be in favor of doing so even if we could. That is why it is critical to insure our limited funds are used effectively to meet the high level priorities of safety and security, infrastructure and harmony. We also take advantage of county, state and federal programs to support specific programs that support our priorities. Excellent examples of this are the Rain Garden projects we are executing in partnership with the Tower Lakes Improvement Association. These collaborative projects have attracted funding grants from the state and the county and have involved the entire community in a volunteer effort to support these gardens. They not only help beautify our village but also provide a significant and sustainable solution to several of our storm drainage concerns thereby reducing the strain on the budget.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
There should not be any interesting ideas that no one is talking about. The board is and must continue to be a place where people feel comfortable to express their concerns and ideas to preserve our village character. Communication needs to be fostered and is the responsibility of the entire community.