Bachelor's Degree, Art Education, Northern Illinois University
Other, Art, American Academy of Art, Chicago
Consultant, Art teacher, Artist, Writer, Independent Contractor
Married, Leon LaSota
Leigh Mariel LaSota, 22
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
A 20 year track record of working collaboratively within a variety of public and private organizations throughout St Charles. I take responsibility to research the issues, projects at hand and build consensus among stakeholders on best approaches. Pride of the Fox RiverFest Steering Committee-2 yrs,volunteer 6 yrs;STC Arts Council volunteer/all 5 pop-up galleries incl. created Charlie’s @ Charlestowne Mall 2012 Student Filmfest;Downtown STC Partnership Fine Arts Show 6 yrs, Holiday Lights parade 2 yrs, River Corridor Fdtn events volunteer; Co-founder of two neighborhood advocacy groups-2008 Near West, 2010 CCSS,Inc; 3rd Ward Aldermanic Candidate 2010; 2009 cofounder/Coordinator, Near West Neighborhood Watch; 2012 grad Citizen Police Academy;working currently w/ Kane Co. Office of Community Reinvestment as co-applicant/consultant for landmarking one of the last 2 remaining farms orig. owned by Col. Baker, Seven Oaks Farm on Red Gate Rd. My research ignited my interest in St Charles’ rich history of open space development, and the close working relationships between city and county. STC East HS P-ARTS Variety Show Chair 6 yrs; PostProm Decor. Chair 2yrs; Richmond Elem. PTA VPres & teacher aide; IL Arts Alliance Conference teacher; National Art Ed. Assn Convention Coord.-2 yrs; Illinois Youth Art Month Chair; freelance consulting, writing, design for commercial, non-profits, Fox Valley, Chicago,IL
What are your top three priorities if elected?
1. Maximize the recreational opportunities for all residents-open space has a profound effect on the character and well-being of of a community, is what makes St Charles unique. I will advocate to preserve current open space, protect the integrity of remnant natural areas within new & existing developments,support new ideas, practises, to keep our “hometown community” feel. 2. With new developments come impacts and options. When under review by the City, my priority will be to encourage creative development of strategies to serve the community by preserving natural features,conserving open space, incorporating public recreational facilities & new cultural assets like sculpture or open air structures within site design. Serving our mature neighborhoods, I will stress improving upon current facilities to create more liveable gathering places, more recreation, exercise/healthy options for families. 3.I will keep the BIG PICTURE top-of-mind. Park Dist.,Kane Co.,Forest Preserve & NE IL Planning Commission “Open Lands Project” - greenway plans exist to create pedestrian,bike links among neighborhoods & Downtown. East & West Gateways need greenway enhancememts, for a sense of “arrival-St Charles!” It’s a tall order. We must use funds prudently,encourage public and private set asides of open space. Our newer developments are disconnect,older areas have challenges of traffic congestion.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
Being a property owner and a tax payer yes for the 11% that the City controls. Of the 8 taxing bodies, the Park District gets just 8%. School District 64%,County 5%, Jr College 5%, Library 4%, Forest Preserve 3%, and Township 2%. Taking into account the whole picture and current state of finances in St Charles, we have to consider this option. Put it to a referendum. I would sooner support smart development & redevelopment, a more collaborative approach to solving our City’s fiscal “knot” of lagging revenues and outstanding TIF’s, by better, more open communication among all taxing bodies on decisions made by the City on future development and currently stalled projects. Examples: First Street, Charlestowne Mall, East Gateway,the former STC Mall property and West Gateway properties. We rely upon our City leadership to make the right decisions to foster business growth and prosperity, but we must be informed, ouselves, ready to weigh in, no matter where we sit, on which Board, Committee or Commisssion. We cherish and maintain aspirational ideas, at the same time we must ground our decisions in fiscal truths and be willing to remain flexible, make the tough decisions, keeping the best interests of all residents at heart. If it means possibly delaying or down-scaling implementation of some initiatives or tightening our belts by some other measures, it will only be for a time.
What one decision by the park district board do you most disagree with and why?
I cannot think of any decision made in recent years that was detrimental to the call of the Park Board.I would like to see more real-time implementation of the existing “Eagle Eye Neighborhood Park Watchers” program along with expansion of the Neighborhood Watch (only one active currently in St Charles is in my Near West area)throughout our community.This could mean a collaborative approach with a new task force populated by Police, Parks,residents, more... I support the concepts underlying both the “Defensible Spaces” theory of Urban Planning and liveability and the(possibly) more familiar “Broken Windows” theory of crime prevention- both address what residents, private and public stewards of the community(property owners,landlords,homeowners, people of all ages, community leadership, resident input) can do together, to protect and enhance neighborhood quality of life. We have 62 wonderful parks and amenities throughout St Charles, Campton & a bit of South Elgin. We will build more green sapces and conserve more naturaland historic features. As the options expand, so does the need for protection and maintenance of their condition and beauty. A community involved is a community aware, appreciative, undivided and invested in that call.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
No doubt about it! Hands-down, the greatest accomplishment has been the community partnership that created “River Bend Community Park”. A collaboration between the Park District, Forest Preserve District,local,county and state officials and the St Charles River Bend Homeowners group reclaimed the unsightly old juvenile detention center land for the community and established our newest park. With help from state legislators the park district was able to buy the land for $4 million. The district utilized several grants to tear down the detention center buildings and landscape the new park.If you have not seen it, you should. It is located at Courier and Geneva Avenues, just off Route 25, includes a play area, basketball and tennis courts and covered picnic area. The park also offers soccer fields, biking trails and picnic groves, a skate park and tennis courts, fishing piers and a dog park is coming! My Springer Spaniel, Mattie will be taking a few trips there, once that is done!
Why should voters elect you to office?
I will do the work with enthusiasm and dilligence. My loyalty to our City is unflagging. My interest and research of Kane County historic, open land grows day by day as I continue to follow the landmarking process of Seven Oaks Farm on Red Gate Road.I have several original concepts to contribute involving community assets like Seven Oaks and public awareness of unique historical threads within the fabric of St Charles. My ability to work with others toward a common goal is public record and is ongoing. I do not sit back and let the ambiance and quality of life in St Charles just “happen”, and wait for the City to serve me. Instead, I have endeavored to serve St Charles for every year I have lived in our coummunity. I hope I can earn your trust and your vote.
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