Bachelor's Degree, BA, University of Iowa
Master's Degree, MS, Roosevelt University
Master's Degree, MBA, Illinois Institute of Technology
Mobility consulting executive, A publicly traded, US-based global information technology company
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
As a 19-year resident of St. Charles with a family that heavily utilizes most or all of our wonderful facilities, I will bring to the park district board the perspective of a consumer of park district services combined with the clear focus of being a newcomer to the political scene. These experiences and qualities will enable me to serve the citizens of the St. Charles park district without agenda. Additionally, my background in managing human-capital, complex systems and financial resources in corporate settings over a two-decade period – along with extensive global travel experience – provides me with unique insights into how other cultures engage stakeholders at both a corporate level and at a community level. I know how to motivate people to do more than they think themselves capable of doing. My profession as a technology advisor to many of the world’s leading corporations has taught me how to define and deliver on strategic planning. With these core skills, I feel confident that I will be able to tap the collective passion that we have as residents of the #1 Best Town for Families to maintain that status through the continued delivery of world-class park district services.
What are your top three priorities if elected?
As a new park district board commissioner, I will have to undertake many tasks to acclimate myself with the ongoing operations to fully determine which variety is important versus those that are both urgent and important. To that end, my first priority is to provide the same, excellent level of services to St. Charles park district residents while ensuring that budget priorities are met. Achieving balance between community stakeholders and the park district will contribute directly to meeting this priority item. My second priority will be to audit the work of the park district board relative to other high-performing cities’ park district boards. Doing this will allow me to benchmark our performance in terms of fiscal responsibility and operations efficiency to validate whether St. Charles residents are receiving the best value for their tax dollars or whether further areas of improvement exist. My third priority will be to engage rapidly with stakeholders, including residents, committee members and the board, to solicit their opinions on key issues. It is imperative that the park district board scans for looming issues and plans for them today so that they can be addressed in the future programs we offer to residents.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
Yes. My position about the park district board’s commitment to fiscal responsibility is clear in my statements: we are fortunate to have at our disposal an educated, considerate and progressive board that voluntarily assumes the responsibility of managing the interests of St. Charles residents. Consider that approximately six percent of a St. Charles resident’s tax bill goes to providing park district services. I believe it is in my purview as a park district board commissioner to solicit residents’ opinions as to whether this amount is sufficient. The response that I have received so far has been that the levy is high enough as-is. In no way can we afford to mortgage the future of the excellent services provided by the park district for the benefit of any short-term gains brought on by ill-conceived tax increases. Tax increases carry with them a mandate to spend the proceeds. Rarely do the proceeds go to fund value-added services. Rather, they go to overhead. For the small concessions that we make today and at no additional cost to taxpayers, we will be better off tomorrow with a continuing rich set of park district services that sets the standard for community excellence.
What one decision by the park district board do you most disagree with and why?
No single action by the Board stands out as disagreeable to me. The St. Charles park district board operates in full view of the public. It is clear to me that the board tries to fully consider and quickly respond to all community requests. Unlike other park districts in Northern Illinois that have come under scrutiny for their operations and fiscal practices in recent years, our institution holds itself to a higher standard. This is reflected in the abundance of park district facilities and programs and the reputation garnered by our city for its preeminence as one of the best places to raise a family. Despite the myriad considerations that the board must make concerning facility usage by clubs, the implementation of new technology and the general administration of the park district staff to name a few, I submit that many of these recommendations and decisions are operational or tactical in nature. Further, I believe that the duty of a board, at least in a corporate setting, should be its focus on strategic matters while tactical ones are left to operations staff. Re-directing the focus of the board toward planning for longer-term activities will be my focus.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
The biggest accomplishment made by the board during the past year was one that is not entirely visible to most casual observers: its ability to live well within its own budget. From the General Fund to almost all other funds managed by the board, actual expenditures were consistently lower than original and final budgets. To see this consistent application of financial discipline applied across all facilities and spending categories is remarkable. St. Charles can be proud of the prudent and thoughtful management approach it receives through its park board. In the past financial year, the park district was able to reduce its debt service by approximately $320,000 through paying down bonds issued in 2002. This action shows its commitment to sound financial management in restructuring debt. Clearly, the park district strives to manage its finances while keeping in mind the return on investment that it needs to deliver to St. Charles residents. Other local park districts have come under fire for pension-fund inflation brought on by salary spikes or handouts. It is reassuring to know that our park district assiduously tends to its finances since those funds originate with us, the residents of St. Charles.
Why should voters elect you to office?
Two facets about my background will compel voters to elect me to the office of park district board commissioner: 1) my business background in dealing with complex systems and issues; and 2) my sincere commitment to serving the St. Charles community. On a regular basis, I have to make decisions for my clients that affect their operations and the services which they offer to their end customers. The same analytical skills that I utilize in my business practice will be an asset for residents in the St. Charles park district as we deal with both recurring budgetary business brought before the board as well as the extraordinary challenges that seem to occur over time, such as capital-improvement projects and physical plant maintenance. All of these priorities need to be balanced in order for St. Charles residents to feel that they are receiving the maximum value for the taxes that they pay. In summary, I feel that my longstanding residence in St. Charles, my ability to quickly connect with people and intricate issues and my personal interest in seeing our park district deliver the best services and value to St. Charles residents will resonate with voters in April.
Charles's Current Race
Other Local Races
Al Lenkaitis Jr.