Q. Please provide your background information: Where are you originally from? Are you married, do you have children, and what is your work and/or education history?
A. I was born and raised in Morris,. I am married to Erica and we have one son, Dalton. After graduating from Morris High School, I have continued with my education and obtained the following degrees/certificates: Joliet Junior College Associates Degree in Fire Science, Chief Shabbona Fire Academy FFII, and Will/Grundy Paramedic Program EMT-Paramedic.
My work experience includes the following: Morris Fire Protection and Ambulance District 5/2006 to present – Firefighter; Kurtz Ambulance 01/2008 to present – Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) - Paramedic of which from 06/2009 to present have been working for Plainfield Fire Protection District through Kurtz Ambulance as both a firefighter and EMT - Paramedic; 05/2009 to present – Morris Third Ward Alderman.
Q. In addition to being a Morris Alderman, you are a firefighter. How does this job help you to be a good leader for the city? Will you continue as a firefighter if you are elected?
A. Being a firefighter is a continuation of my dedication to public service and to the community. Being a firefighter has certainly helped me to develop leadership skills and to work with good people as a team for the safety of our community. If elected Mayor, I will concentrate my efforts on serving the city of Morris as Mayor full-time. I will cease my present employment except that I will move to inactive status on the Morris Fire Department to keep my credentials and training.
Q. In your time as alderman, what are some of your accomplishments you are most proud of?
A. As Alderman, I am most proud of being an advocate for trying to promote local jobs and economic opportunity, helping to eliminate unnecessary spending and the promotion of an efficient and effective, fiscally conservative city.
Additionally, I am proud of my votes to help promote the health and safety of our community by opposing new landfills and the city promoting a good, healthy environment for all the citizens of Morris.
I am also proud of having voted to reduce Aldermen’s pay, liquor commissioner pay, which combined will save approximately $20,000 per year, and I voted against the Mayor’s pay raises.
Q. If you are elected, what are some of your goals you plan to accomplish in your term?
A. Some important goals that I will strive to accomplish if elected Mayor, include, not necessarily in order, the following:
a. Focus on the core needs of the city and of its citizens as opposed to making government bigger and more expensive to operate;
b. Repeal all garbage fees;
c. Properly fund all city pensions;
d. Eliminate unnecessary and wasteful spending;
e. Properly use TIF funds to promote jobs/economic opportunity;
f. Promote the effective use of the Morris Airport to promote jobs/economic opportunity;
g. Promote all Morris businesses, including our treasured downtown;
h. Balance the city’s budget;
i. Substantially reduce spending of attorney’s fees and other professional fees;
j. Last but not least, promote a more open, transparent and honest government.
Q. One of the more debated topics among the community is the new Municipal Services Facility. Some in the community have voiced the city spent too much money on the building, do you agree?
A. The new City Hall building was voted on shortly before I was elected Alderman. I have consistently opposed that unnecessary expenditure. Yes, the police needed more space. The problems with the new City Hall include, but are not limited to, it is overbuilt, too expensive with too many additional expenditures, was an improper use of TIF funds, is poorly located, lacked local labor (almost no local businesses or citizens worked on the building). The new City Hall cost well in excess of $11 million and the Morris Herald has been provided the documentation from the City Clerk’s office proving that fact.
Q. A year ago you voted against a host agreement to expand Environtech Landfill. With one landfill at capacity and another coming close, if elected, what do you plan to do to handle the city’s garbage?
A. I am proud to have voted against a new expanded landfill for Environtech. The vast majority of municipalities do not have landfills. The health and safety of people and safe drinking water supplies is of great importance to the future of our city.
The existing contract with Environtech/Republic Services for city garbage pick up will expire soon. I will lead the city to hopefully enter into a new contract to keep the costs down through negotiations and have the garbage pick up let out for bids. I will strive to work and consult with other local municipalities with the hopes of being able to team up with them in order to leverage better terms as to cost of garbage pick up.
Along these same lines, I will encourage more effective and efficient disposal of garbage with such companies as Syntech Bioenergy, which should help keep the garbage costs under control and dispose of garbage in a more environmentally healthy and safe manner without obligating the city on any bonding or other liability relative thereto.
Q. For a number of years the city has had a band shell in storage that has yet to be constructed or utilized. If elected, what is your plan for it and when can this be expected to be completed?
A. In 2010, the Mayor broke the tie vote (I voted “No”) for the purchase of a band shell which cost $109,392. That band shell has been sitting in storage in a hangar at the Morris Airport ever since. As a result of the band shell taking up space in the airport hangar, the city proceeded to build another storage space for snow plow equipment at the airport, which was needed as a result of the band shell. The new hangar cost the city considerable money and had considerable costs overruns. In my opinion, the Mayor has compounded his initial error in judgment.
I propose that the city either sell the band shell or move expeditiously to have the band shell built in a different location than what the Mayor proposes. We should abandon the Mayor’s plan of spending hundreds of thousands of more taxpayer funds by tearing up the green space and cutting down trees in the middle of Goold Park so that the band shell has parking, bathrooms, water and sewer being run, utilities being run, etc.
If we are going to build the band shell, that should be done expeditiously this year at a location that will save considerably on up-front and future costs, which would be located near Union Street (facing east) at the west end of the park. The south entrance from Union Street could be temporarily blocked off for events. This location already has the bathrooms and a power source present and would be much more cost-effective. Ample parking already exists at the park and across the street and we would need to coordinate with Morris High School.
Another option would be to partner with either Morris High School or Morris Elementary School District 54 for placement of the band shell on school property.
Q. Why are you the best candidate to be Morris’ mayor?
A. Respectfully, I sincerely believe that we need a new Mayor and that I am the best candidate for that office. While I am younger than the Mayor, my experience, proven work ethic and determination to help make Morris a better place to live, raise a family, run a business and work, is something that is very near and dear to my heart.
I am firmly committed to doing everything that I can to help accomplish those overall goals. The Mayor’s position, while important, is only one person. My plan is to surround myself with good, experienced, honest and dedicated people that share my vision and goals who will work together to make Morris the best that it can be.
We have a lot of opportunities that have either been ignored or things that have been underutilized that we can do so much better on. We need to focus on the core needs of the city including streets and sanitation, water and sewer, police and jobs/economic opportunities for all, as opposed to focusing on making city government bigger. We already are overtaxed, and government at all levels overspends. We need to reverse that course and with the help and the support of the citizens of Morris, we can and will succeed.
Q. Please list any organizations you belong to.
A. I have done volunteer work for Big Brothers Big Sisters, We Care, Operation St. Nick, Grundy County Republican Central Committee and I am an instructor at the Chief Shabbona Fire Academy.