How can you make Naperville better?
I would make Naperville better by supporting community groups and their activities the way Mayor Pradel has do for the last 20 years. This support has made our community stronger and encourages embracing our community’s cultural, civic and spiritual diversity.
What is your leadership style?
My preferred leadership style is a combination of assertion and facilitating that, of the six widely accepted leadership style, is best described by the coaching leadership style. But every leadership style has its strengths and weakens and in a situation that plays to a style’s weakens that style will fail. This is why the Navy teaches situational awareness, the idea that to get the best outcome you have to first understand the nature and conditions of a situation. Then use the leadership style with strengths that best suit the situation. So, while my preference would be a coaching leadership style what I practice is situation awareness.
What is Naperville’s most pressing issue(s) and what’s your solution
I believe economic development is Naperville’s most pressing issue. Naperville’s small business community is a major economic engine, yet these businesses are one of the most underserved stakeholders in our city. The city should support these Stakeholders by doing thing like; providing Internet resources that business owners can use to enhance their operation and grow, change city procurement policies to channel more city spending to resident owned city businesses and finally by engaging in activities and programs that encourage resident to use local businesses. Keeping these dollars in Naperville strengthens city commerce and promotes economic growth.
What would you do to improve Naperville traffic flow?
Its important to realize any solution that does not involve increasing the number of north-south lanes will only provide an incremental improvement in traffic flow and not solve the city’s traffic problem. My suggestion would be to restrict commerce vehicles from using certain north-south streets during high traffic times. Better timing of signal lights would, in the short term, make traffic flow better, but traffic patterns would eventually shift canceling out these gains. Any dynamic signal timing system would need to include traffic information from multiply streets to avoid surges cause by shifting traffic patterns. Adding right turn lanes would have little if any effect on traffic flow. The anecdotal situation mentioned of being caught in traffic wanting to make right turn but having not right turn lane would simply shift to “if only that right turn lane were 20 feet longer”. A sixty foot right turn lane would remove at best 3 cars from the hundred or more waiting at the light and statistically the lane would be unused in over 95% of the light cycles (assuming one hundred cars waiting at the light in two lanes, arriving in random order with only 3% of these drives wishing to make a right turn when the light changes).
Since renewable energy and recycling have been a major effort over the past 20 years in Naperville, What are your thoughts about renewable energy and its role in the future of Naperville?
The city has a responsibility to provide residents with the resources needed to practice sustainable environmental and energy habits as well as make such practice part of its daily operations.
The City has done a good job so far, but more could be done. In northern climate like ours, however, geothermal is more practical then solar. For similarly energy output systems geothermal would cost about 30% more than Solar but produce far greater saving and would have a pay off time that is 60% that of a Solar installation. Other advantages of geothermal is it can be installed in any building, while solar has space requirements not all buildings can accommodate.
Wind turbines could also be better utilized. Vertical wind turbines do not require the substantial stand-alone structure that horizontal turbines are mounted on. These turbines can also be design to be more esthetically suited to an urban setting and can easily be retro fitted for roof top installations.
I am not convinced the plan to switch city vehicles to CNG (LNG) is a good strategy. This is not a new idea it was try several decades ago by many private sector companies, all have switch back to gasoline because of unanticipated cost and problems of operating a LNG fleet. LNG is not a renewable or sustainable fuel, so while it addresses the issue of environmental sustainability it does nothing to improve the city’s sustainable energy situation. I think the city should spend sometime evaluating using Butanol, which is a renewable energy, before committing to the significant cost of converting to LNG.
What are your thoughts about the SECA program? Your suggestions on how the program should be changed or how the money should be distributed?
It’s hard to have a discussion about SECA without mentioning its long and convoluted history. As originally conceived it was a good way to address the problems that had arisen over the city’s support of community events. When the city was small and these events were small any city services needed to ensure public safety were simply provided by the city. As these events grew, this pattern of simply providing the needed police, fire and publics works support continued, until circumstances lead to asking just how much money was the city spending supporting these events? During this discussion it was pointed out that in most large city the cost of any city services were simply charged to the event holders. This idea cause concern among the city non-for-profits that such costs would become a significant barrier to starting and establishing new community events and well as the demise of some of the smaller events. The idea behind SECA was that the city departments providing services would start changing the event holder, but that the event holder could apply to SECA to cover these costs. As we know today SECA funds are not always use to cover just these costs. The city should look at taking SECA back to this original idea of providing funds just to cover the cost of city services. It should also require tighter accounting of these funded costs. There is some concern that the costs being charged Event holders do not truly reflect the city’s costs in providing these needed services. A closer auditing of these charges should be conducted to make sure providing services to community events does not become a revenue stream for city departments. With tighter guidelines on what SECA funds will cover and monitoring of these costs there should be a greater amount of funds available to fund additional community events.
What will be your top 3 priorities if you are elected? What steps would you take upon being elected?
Growing the city’s economy. Most of the funding for the city budget comes from taxes on various revenues streams and fees for services. The city has reserve, benefits and debt service obligations that can be addressed more quickly and securely by increasing these funding sources. If the city is to reduce its dependence on property taxes the economy has to grow. Some of the most undeserved stakeholders in Naperville are its small business owners yet they are a major economic engine in our community. The city needs to encourage the growth of small businesses. By growing more small merchants in our community the city would enhance customer choice, prompting residents to buy local. Keeping these dollars in Naperville strengthens city commerce and promotes economic growth.
Development of South Naperville. The south residents are another underserved group of stakeholders in Naperville. These southern residents were promised a walkable shopping/community amenity analogous to the downtown/riverwalk several years ago. Little progress has been made on this and I believe it is time for the city to put more time and effort into making this happen. One of the main reasons for developing the downtown area was to create a walkable shopping area that would rival the Fox Valley Shopping Center and draw people to downtown, particularly Naperville residents. Every dollar spent by residents in neighboring communities is a lose in economic improvement for the city as well as lost city revenue. For most southern residents downtown Naperville is a longer drive then downtown Plainfield or even the shopping areas around Clow Airport. The present situation once again motivates Naperville residents to spend their dollars and time outside our community. This project would bring these dollars back to our community and provide our southern residents a neighborhood amnesty.
The last is public safety. The City Council, toward the end of last summer, passed a new ordinance to address the late night downtown problem. This situation needs to be watched closely this summer to make sure these changes are effective. And southern residents are still distressed about street racer on 95th. The city is using greater police presents to address this issue but because of the multi-jurisdictional nature of this area further action maybe need to stop these racers. Finally, the biggest problem is heroin dealers moving into our community and setting up operations in Naperville apartments. The City has adopted a Crime Free Housing program that worked well in other cities but it is presently voluntary. If problematic properties owners can not be persuaded to participate it will become necessary for the city to make some parts of this program mandatory, as it did with the Best Practices Guidelines for downtown late night permit holders.
I’ve lived in my Naperville Tall Grass subdivision home for nearly 15 years and over that time period I’ve made numerous complaints and request to the City of Naperville to address the traffic noise and traffic safety issues on Route 248 between 95th and 103rd. My complaints and request have been politely responded to however the traffic noise and safety issues have worsened over that period and so has the quality of our Naperville experience. How do you plan to address the issues of everyday Naperville taxpayers to improve our Naperville experience, which I think has been mortgaged to downtown development and developers over recent years?
You are not the only person concern about a traffic issues in our city, I have heard from many residents concerned about traffic safety, hazards, noise, and congestion. When I moved to Naperville 20 years ago there was little traffic, we were a smaller community. Naperville exploded from 7,000 homes to 50,000 in only a couple of decades, and with this housing growth came a flood of cars on our streets. At the same time, this same thing was happening in many of our neighboring cities. The traffic congestion this created has push cars off the main arterial streets on to side and neighborhood streets. The street in front of my house has a posted speed limit of 25 mph but drives trying to shorten their commute come down this street (which has two schools adjacent to it) at 40 mph. While there are many things the city can do to incrementally improve the traffic situation any permanent solution would require a major roadway improvement project that could cost 100’s of millions and require cooperation from neighboring cities, counties and the state. And traffic is just one of several infrastructure challenges the city is facing. In another 10-15 years you will no doubt begin to have issues with your subdivision’s sewer and storm water systems.
Were is the city going to get the funds need to widen streets, increase and improve traffic control (i.e. signals and signs) and install noise abatement solutions? Presently most of the city’s general fund comes from sale tax, the majority of which comes from people drawn to our city by amenities like the downtown area. What you see as mortgaging the city to downtown development and developers, other see as investing in a profit center that will lessen the tax burden of residents, but return on these investments will take time. With the present budget constraints there simply is not the funds to address all of the cities traffic issues immediately.
Priority has to be given to fixing the problems that will provide the greatest benefit to the largest number of residents. The problems your subdivision is experiencing due to traffic on Route 248 running along the back yards of the houses in your development, while significant to you, are not as bad as those of other south side neighborhoods who’s residents are also everyday Naperville taxpayers.
Can the city get the funding needed to address all these issues now? Yes, the city can borrow the money, increasing the debt burden to the point of risking bankruptcy if we experience another significant economic downturn like in 2007. Alternatively the city could raise property taxes, increasing the financial burden on the residents. How much is the everyday Naperville taxpayer willing to pay to solve these issues? A 5% property tax increase? 10%? 15%? From the conversations I have had with residents the answer in zero. Leaving only sale tax revenue, revenue that will only grow by attracting more people (including residents) to shop in Naperville. Naperville resident that spend their money in Plainfield, Bolingbrook, Aurora, Lisle, etc are only hurting themselves. The sales tax they are paying to these communities are funds lost to Naperville and increase the likelihood of raising property taxes to close city budget gaps.
Simply addressing all the present issues of residents does not guarantee and improvement in the Naperville experience of all residents. The 95th street bridge project is a good example of that, while the completion of this project improve the Naperville experience for many resident it has had the opposite effect for a group of resident living in the area.