Kenneth P. Johnson: Candidate profile
Kenneth P. Johnson
Wood Dale Mayor
Senior Attorney for Secretary of State Jesse White
BA in Political Science from Taylor University
Juris Doctor degree from De Paul University
Civic Associations: Member of Jubilee Bible Church formerly known as Medinah Baptist Church, Treasurer of the Chicagoland Christian Sports Conference, and IHSA basketball referee
Elected positions held: Addison Township Trustee 5.5 years,. Alderman City of Wood Dale 10 years, Mayor City of Wood Dale 13 years
Website; Ken Johnson for Mayor.org
What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
Most Important issue: When I left office 8 years ago, the City of Wood Dale had ZERO debt and $22,000,000.00 million in cash reserves. Under todays' leadership, the City of Wood Dale has run up $42,000,000.00 in debt, and has reduced cash reserves of only $9,000,000.00 as per Mayor Pulice statement at Shape of Wood Dale. The current administration plans to add another $28,000,000 in debt next fiscal year bringing the total Wood Dale debt to a whopping $70,000,000.00. This has to stop! When I was finance chairman, as an alderman, and all the years I served as Mayor, the City of Wood Dale was always in the black. Its a simple concept, just spend less money than you take in.
Why are you the best candidate?
When I was Mayor, I was able to bring in more grant money some $22,000,000.00 than all other Mayors in the history of Wood Dale combined. That is a big reason Wood Dale never went into debt, under my leadership. Further major flood relief projects were done under my leadership such as the Wood Dale/Itasca reservoir, purchase of 23 homes along Salt Creek that constantly flooded, and construction of Tall Oaks retention basin.
Working for Secretary of State Jesse White the last seven years as taught me how to effectively run a large government office.
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 believe in hiring highly competent professional staff, such as Police Chief Greg Vesta, then myself and all other elected officials should get out of the way and not attempt to micromanage city departments. I have seen much to interference with day-to-day operations of the city by the alderman. The Mayor and City Council are a legislative body that sets policy for the City of Wood Dale. Hire competent people, get out of their way, and let them do there job.
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?
As previously stated, putting Wood Dale back in the black is my number one priority. First, I would stop using tax payers dollars to buy properties on Irving Park Road. If a developer will not buy the properties, because they are not economically feasible to redevelop, why should the alderman and mayor use tax payer's dollars to purchase these properties and take them off the tax rolls. Second, I would look to combine services with the Village of Itasca such as our human resources departments. Dose each town of about 145 employees need its own HR person or can we combine this department? Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on outside engineering companies, can we combine and hire a joint city engineer.
Further, I would initiate a hiring freeze, except for sworn police officers, on taking office. I have observed Secretary of State Jesse White do more with less. As employees retire, those of us remaining redistribute and assume the work load.
New money can be brought into the City of Wood Dale by filling the 23 vacant store fronts in Wood Dale. The loss of Warnimont Hardware alone cost the City of Wood Dale $50,000.00 in sales tax each year. I believe new businesses are not moving into Wood Dale due to our over aggressive and overly regulatory Wood Dale Building Department. Wood Dale has created over 500 pages of regulations applied to our existing businesses that makes it extremely difficult for a mom and pop business to survive. I would repeal the new Commercial Occupancy Code and make it easier for new restaurants, stores, and industrial users to come to town.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
There is a lack of gender equality and ethnic diversity in the leadership of the City of Wood. The entire City Counsel is male. The entire Community Development Commission is male. All departments heads are male. The entire Building Code Board of Review is male, except for one member. Of the top decision makers in Wood Dale 20 are men and there is only one woman decision maker. This is a throw back to how Wood Dale was run 60 years ago. When I was an Alderman I served with several capable alderwoman on the City Council. I appointed numerous women to the Community Development Commission. Mayor Pulice inexplicably asked all the women to resign from the commission when he took office, and replaced them with all men. Further, our largest ethnic group in Wood Dale is Hispanic at 23% of the population. However, under this administration there is no Hispanic representation in any elected or appointed positions within the City of Wood Dale. I will change that on day one.
I would also reduce water rates by ten percent within sixty days of taking office. Wood Dale residents should all take a look at the back of their current sewer and water bill. Your sewer rate just went up over 160%. This is because the current administration over built the sewer plant on Irving Park Road at a cost of $32,000.000.00. As a town of 13,750 people we now have a combined sewer capacity between north and south plants for a town of 32,000 people. Why? You are paying for this incompetence.