Bachelor's Degree, Nautical Science, Maine Maritime Academy
Operations manager, Great Lakes shipping, American Steamship Company
Married, Laura Rae
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
My service to community and country includes 20 years as a volunteer firefighter (11 years at FRG), member of the FRG zoning board of appeals and a veteran of the US Coast Guard (10 years). As an EMT/firefighter one gets to intimately know the community and the people. As a Coast Guard officer I was responsible for day today safety and security operations including an overseas tour during Desert Storm. Both my fire service and Coast Guard service have taught me to function under stressful conditions and the importance of seeing things through and getting the job done. My experience on the zoning board has given me solid background and a working knowledge of the village government. My entire professional career of 34 years has been spent in the maritime shipping industry as a Coast Guard marine inspector, ship’s officer and, currently, a senior manager in the operations group of the largest US flag operator on the Great Lakes. My operations background has taught me the importance of long range planning, working within a diverse team and problem solving skills. I am ready to use my experience and skills to continue serving the community.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
My top three priorities if elected will be: Taxes – The village needs to continue to maintain a balanced budget while holding the line on taxes and expenses. High taxes discourage both home ownership and business retention and development. Business Growth – Do what can be done to keep the businesses we have and recruit new businesses. Find out what other towns are doing along these lines and learn from their success stories. It is time to move ahead on the downtown Route 14 business corridor. Fox River Grove is a little gem of a town and there is no reason we should not be able to attract businesses given our assets including the river, train line and great schools. Fiscal Accountability – Put emphasis on fiscal planning beyond the current budget year. Traditionally the village has looked at a one year budget which is really just a snapshot. We need to look down the road five and ten years to assure that revenues can meet the commitments being made today.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
In today’s economy, yes, I would support freezing the tax levy. The village board was right in doing so this year especially considering that the average taxpayer’s earning power is still on the decline. Everyone is watching the pennies very closely these days, particularly those on a fixed income, and local government must follow suit. Being mindful that the village portion of property tax pie is a very small slice, the village board has a responsibility to ensure that revenues are sufficient to satisfy outlays. It’s a very tough balancing act that the village board must handle responsibly. If elected, I intend to work with the other trustees to ensure this responsibility is a priority. I will approach spending tax dollars or raising taxes as I approach my family budget, in that we don’t spend money we don’t have. Further, it’s always a good idea to sock something away for a rainy day. Unfunded state mandates and unanticipated employee pension costs fall in the category of financial “rainy days” for the village.
What one decision by the village board do you most disagree with and why?
The one decision or issue I disagree with is the winter parking ordinance (no parking on village streets from 2am to 6am November through March) passed at the September 2012 board meeting. I understand the need to keep the streets clear of vehicles when the snow flies but a blanket prohibition on all overnight parking for five months is excessive. As of the date I am writing this, February 21, 2013,the plows have only been out a couple times and yet residents are ticketed for being on the street when it is clean and dry. Again, I get the intent but the issue could have been handled in a more thoughtful reasonable way. I do not believe in churning out an ordinance to solve all problems, real or perceived, is the right thing to do. The village should stay off of peoples’ backs as much as possible. In other words, whenever contemplating an ordinance, the village board should keep in the village mission statement, which states in part, “Maintain and enhance Fox River Grove’s friendly small town atmosphere…”
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
The biggest accomplishment of the village board this year was freezing the tax levy. The discussion and debate on this issue at the special board meeting in December was thoughtful and reasoned. Trustees presented good arguments on both sides of the issue and in the end voted to not to take the allowable 3% increase. I commend the Board for that decision.
Why should voters elect you to office?
The residents of Fox River Grove should elect me to the office of Trustee because I will work toward solving the problems that affect them. I will listen to the residents and work with the other village board members to this end. That being said, I am an independent candidate and not a follower. I look forward to engaging other Trustees on the issues. I believe in financial planning beyond the current budget year so that any necessary course corrections can be made before we are on the rocks. I will work toward retaining the businesses we have and to recruit new businesses to the village. I will be thoughtful and practice restraint when it comes to enacting ordinances. I will use my business operations experience to help ensure the delivery of quality, cost effective village services to residents and businesses. I will be a Trustee who will not spend your tax money unless it is for a very good reason and in the best interests of the residents of the village. Above all, I believe Fox River Grove is a great place to live, raise a family and run a business. I’m running to keep it that way.
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