Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Wednesday Journal sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
Profession: (Current) Co-owner of a printing company in Broadview, IL. Lithographic Industries Inc, family owned company specializes in package printing. I am VP of operations, includes overseeing production, manage sales force, oversees all scheduling and planning, even HR in some instances. Being an owner allows me a lot of flexibility in my schedule, and lets me be involved in the schools during a lot of days as a volunteer. Previously worked as an auditor for Arthur Andersen LLP as an auditor for 4 years as a CPA.
Years lived in River Forest:
I was born and raised in River Forest since 1973. I attended Willard and Roosevelt schools as a child. As a newlywed I lived in Oak Park for 2 years, then moved back here in 1998/1999 and have lived here ever since.
Spouse, if applicable:
I have been married to Portia Ebert since 1996. She grew up in Oak Park, and we were high school sweethearts and dated through college, then married after she graduated in 1996.
Do you have children in D90 schools? How many and what ages?
We have 3 children, currently all in the district. Andy, 13 years old in 8th grade. James, 11 years old in 6th grade, and Alex, 9 years old in 3rd grade. All my children have attended Lincoln then Roosevelt schools. We actually began receiving some speech support prior to them beginning kindergarten.
Have you ever run for or served in a local political office before? If so, when and which office?
My first political office in a board member on the Board of Education for District 90, where I am currently finishing my first four year term.
Why are you running for this office?
The reason I am running for a second term is similar to why I ran the first time. I was recruited to run initially because I spent a lot of time volunteering in the kid’s classrooms , and people recognized that, and could tell that I cared about the schools and the children. For me being involved in the schools goes back to having my father pass away from cancer when I was 11 years old when I was in 6th grade at Roosevelt. District 90 schools were paramount in helping my family deal with the loss of my father. Without the support from teachers, social workers and local families I would not be the person I am today. That is why I always felt I needed to give back to District 90 and to River Forest.
What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing the district in the next four years?
There are always challenges, I feel that a few are more important than others. With the Common Core standards changing, this is going to require a lot of work from our teachers and administrators to be able to keep our curricula up to date and relevant to the new exams and new standards. We need to provide enough support to our teachers so that they are successful in implementing the changes. Another broad challenge is to remain relevant is an ever changing world, and I think that us keeping up with technology is another crucial challenge, our tech team is up to the task, but it is a challenge nonetheless.
What skills/talents do you have that would enable you to deal with those challenges?
I have the experience of being on the board for four years, so I know how it operates and can continue to help keep it working smoothly. I feel that continuity is an important factor in the decision for school board members. I have lived here in River Forest almost my entire life, and I understand what River Forest needs , wants and deserves. I have a background in finance which helps to understand the finances of the district as a whole and make responsible decisions in those types of spending issues. Where I work now I wear a lot of different hats. I do Human Resources to some degree, I do a lot of problem solving, scheduling, and I stay organized and focused on all the business decisions I make on a day to day basis at work. I know I bring those work related strengths to the board as well.
I don’t think that my work here on the board is done. I’ve established a good relationship with the other board members, the superintendent principals and other administrators. I am very familiar with how the board operates and how the schools operate and I believe that it would be best for the district in terms of continuity for me to be a member for another four years.
This is also the reason I was recruited for the first term, because I was so visible in the schools. It is rare that a father volunteers throughout the school year at the schools, and I think I am a good role model for my sons, and for all the kids so they realize that volunteers are important to the their education.
It was important for me to be there, because my father never had the chance and neither was my mom able to help out as much as she would like, because she became a single mom of three small children at a young age. The schools are a place of support for all the children, that is how I have always seen the district, not just for academics, but clubs, sports, a place to feel safe and welcome.
If elected, what are three goals that you have for the next four years?
I would like to leave the district a better place than when I was first elected. I would also like to continue to be a responsible steward of our community’s money and be responsible with our expenditures. Continue to keep communication between the board and the community open and clear. There will be a lot to communicate to community members, both those with and without children in the district, and I believe that this line of communication is crucial to the relationship between the district and all the stakeholders including the village and residents. I hope we can improve on the communication between the village and the district also. (For example, we as a district were blindsided when the village decided to stop providing crossing guards for our children before and after school about 2-3 years ago with VERY little notice before the school year began.)