Candidates for the Village of Flossmoor Board of Trustees

Two candidates are seeking the mayor’s position in Flossmoor. They are Paul S. Braun and Jeanne “Gigi” Gummerson. Arnold R. Crater filed to compete for the position but announced on Feb. 28 that he would not be able to serve if elected and was in the process of withdrawing his candidacy. Braun is the incumbent.

Nine candiates are running for three seats on the Flossmoor Board of Trustees. Candidates are Beverly Diane Williams, Zena Smith, James Crum, Philip J. Minga, Keitric Emory, Stephen Kelley, Brian H. Driscoll, Gary Samuel Arthur and Peter K.B. St. Jean. Williams, Crum and Minga are incumbents.

Joni Bradley Scott was the only candidate to file for village clerk.


Mayor:

  Jeanne Gummerson

Jeanne “Gigi” Gummerson
Education: IJP; Homewood-Flossmoor HS; B.A., Mundelein College.
Incumbent: No
Other elected positions: Village clerk, village trustee for 12 years.

Important Issues: Stabilize and grow property values through proactive planning; be accessible and responsive to the needs of residents; tap into the potential volunteer value of our residents.
     Work with Cook County to reform and reduce commercial property assessments; push for smart, forward thinking governance; develop a comprehensive plan for business retention, expansion and development.
    Create new and exciting on-trend public events; re-brand village and actively market to prospective residents and businesses; engage and coordinate with realtors and key government entities. 


  Paul Braun

Paul Braun
Education: Homewood Flossmoor High School, 1972; B.A., Wabash College, 1977; J.D., The John Marshall Law School, 1980.
Occupation: Lawyer .
Current employer: Braun & Edwards, Chtd., Flossmoor.
Incumbent: Yes. I am completing my second term as mayor having first been elected in 2009.
Other elected positions: Flossmoor village trustee, 2003 to 2009; commissioner of Flossmoor Planning Commission, 1999-2003; past president of South Suburban Mayors & Managers Association; executive board member of Metropolitan Mayors Caucus; member of Illinois Municipal League Legislative Committee; Chicago Metropolitan Agency Regional Tax Policy Task Force and Flossmoor Elementary District 161 Strategic Planning Committee; liaison member of Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation.

Most important issues: Marketing of Flossmoor both internally to residents and externally to the Chicagoland area to attract new residents and new businesses to Flossmoor. Flossmoor has many beautiful and architecturally significant homes that we need to include in our marketing efforts.
     Continue economic development, bringing new businesses to Flossmoor for residents’ convenience and increased village revenues; focus on ways to make sure no increase in property taxes to residents.
     More involvement with Flossmoor school districts to improve school ratings resulting in increased home values and marketability; increase infrastructure improvements for repair of village streets and sidewalks; establish a commission for safeguarding and maintaining senior residents in the community.

Goals: If re-elected, among working on the goals and projects mentioned in this profile, I want to complete the economic development of the Meijer corridor at Vollmer Road and Crawford Avenue, as well as the vacant property on Flossmoor Road in the downtown area. Economic development brings in new and needed businesses to Flossmoor that is critical to the long-term health of the village. Business growth means more revenue for needed village services and infrastructure repairs, and eliminating the need for property tax increases from residents. It brings more job opportunities for residents and the surrounding communities and helps to attract new residents to Flossmoor.
     Increased economic development also helps fortify our community partners such as our school districts, our park district, and our library. Ongoing economic development will also assist in our marketing efforts to help spread the message that Flossmoor really is a great place to live, work, and raise families.


Board of Trustees:

  James Crum

James Crum
Education: B.S., mechanical engineering, University of Rochester, 1956; served as a U.S. Navy officer.
Occupation: Retired steel industry executive, 45 years in the business.
Incumbent: Yes. Village trustee the past eight years.

Most important issues: We must continue our "save then spend" philosophy in regards to our capital spending.  This will insure we operate within our budget. The Standard & Poors rating agency recognized our sound financial condition, especially during the recent economic downturn, in the form of an improved credit rating.
     The opening of the former TIF District presents a great opportunity to increase our assessed evaluation with its impact on property values.  The opening of the Meijer store brings in much needed sales and property taxes into the community.  One of the Meijer out-lots will see a restaurant opening in the near future. Other Meijer out-lots and additional prime property from Central Park Avenue to the Meijer property along Vollmer Road is available for commercial development.  With limited space for new single family homes, increasing the value of our existing homes is key.  To increase awareness of the benefits of living in Flossmoor, the village has recently developed a new position to promote Flossmoor.

Goals: I think we can all agree that our water rates are too high. The City of Chicago, the source of Flossmoor water, has doubled its charging rate over the last several years. These increased rates are passed along to consumers. Flossmoor and 10 surrounding communities have been meeting recently to explore alternative sources for our water. No timetable or costs have been developed, but Flossmoor cannot be held hostage by the City of Chicago.
     Public Safety is a paramount requirement for a modern municipality. As a result of a study by a noted police consulting group, Flossmoor is in the process of adding two police officers to our staff. 
     Any discussion of the fiscal health of Flossmoor must be tempered by the sad state of fiscal management in the State of Illinois. For example, the state has imposed rules over doubling the cost of police and fire pensions while, at the same time, imposing "caps" on methods of funding these increased expenses. Flossmoor constantly works with our state legislatures to try and obtain relief. 
     Lastly, I want to encourage greater public participation in the local government process. It is discouraging to have only one or two members of the public at our bi-monthly meetings. 


Stephen J. Kelley
Education: B.S., mathematics, Tri State University (now Trine University)
Occupation: Program Division President, Breckenridge Insurance Services
Current employer: Breckenridge Insurance Services
Incumbent: No

Most important issues: Crippling slowdown and unacceptable decrease in economic growth in the village; home values decreasing; property tax increasing to unhealthy levels; noticeable decrease in village services, snow removal e.g.; village-supported activities driving growth virtually non existent.

Goals: The current village leadership is not realizing and advantaging the full potential of this community. I will work to revitalize what attracted me and my family to Flossmoor. The plan will prioritize private citizen concerns and corporate growth strategies.
    We need to work toward an aggressive marketing strategy extolling our advantages to attract young families to our village. Our schools, diversity and focus on family will be emphasized.
     We also need to coordinate an economic revitalization plan, attracting new business and tax revenue, adding to our appeal and bringing dependency on property taxes back in proper balance along with strengthening home values. Flossmoor is standing still and needs to start to move forward again.


  Peter St. Jean

Peter K.B. St. Jean
Education: Ph.D., sociology, University of Chicago, 2002; M.A. criminology, Simon Fraser University, Canada, 1997; B.A. English and B.S. criminal justice, St. John's University, NYC: 1996.
Occupation: Criminologist, sociologist, film maker, author, social scientist; associate professor of sociology, Director of Criminal Justice, North Park University, Chicago. CEO of research and development, consulting firm Quality of Life Solutions. Creator and master trainer of Better Me, Better You, a social and emotional learning curriculum
Current employer: North Park University, Chicago.
Incumbent: No

Most important issues: My vision for Flossmoor is to see it become a model village for others to follow, through the ways we maintain and improve quality of life among our youth, adult and elderly populations. As a social scientist, an entrepreneur, filmmaker, and civic society leader, I seek to use my diverse skills to help Flossmoor become even better. This includes significant improvements in our schools, businesses, sense of safety and security, youth development, adult responsibility and development, caring for our elderly and vulnerable people, improving our public spaces, parks, roads and property values, while practicing great fiscal responsibility and celebrating our diversity.
     With the changing demographic profiles of some of our residents, I seek to lead an effort that employs more research and evidence-based approaches, to better understand and address current and potential problems. This is my professional strength and I know that we can devise effective strategies to preserve and improve our village. 

Goals: Making Flossmoor even better and seen as a Model Village; strengthening our schools; maintaining and increasing length of residence in Flossmoor; reducing taxes when possible, while finding creative revenue generating strategies; improve quality of life among youth, adult and elderly populations.
     Significantly improving our businesses, community safety, family life, parental involvement, youth activities, parks and recreational services, public spaces and roads; maintaining and improving property values; celebrating our diversity; improving economic opportunities; improving our sense of community.
     Developing a research-informed and evidence-based tradition to address current and potential problems; being a caring community that provides appropriate supports for its vulnerable members; practicing sound fiscal responsibilities and ethics.


  Philip Minga

Philip Minga
Education: B.S., civil engineering, Valparaiso University.
Occupation/Current Employer: DB Sterlin Consultants, Inc. in Chicago.

Most Important issues: The village needs to do whatever it can, within limitations imposed upon the village by state statute, to aid our residents in recovering the loss in home values experienced in the recent economic downturn. Increased property values will benefit individual property owners and will increase the revenue the village receives from property taxes.
     The village needs to continue to examine every possibility to expand our commercial tax base and sales tax revenue while being mindful to help our existing businesses prosper.
     The village must not lose focus of its core mission of providing for possible police, fire and public works services to its residents.

Goals: I will continue to work collaboratively with my fellow trustees as we grow our marketing efforts to promote Flossmoor as an ideal village to raise a family, work and thrive.
     I will work to improve the ways the village communicates with residents and potential residents via the website, social media and written.
     I will work to continue our success in expanding our economic development and work to retain our existing businesses.
     I will continue to lend my knowledge and experience as a registered professional civil engineer to infrastructure, construction and consulting contract matters.


  Brian Driscoll

Brian Driscoll
Education: B.A., Marquette University, 1983; J.D., IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, 1987.
Occupation: Associate partner at Slavin & Slavin LLC. I am a certified municipal hearing officer for villages in the South Suburbs and have presided over thousands of municipal hearings.
Current employer: Slavin & Slavin LLC.

Most important issues: There are several recurrent issues which come to the forefront: Flossmoor residents are facing higher taxes compared to home values relative to the City of Chicago or suburbs to the north or west of Chicago. Specifically, new tax rates released by Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office show residents in the South Suburbs pay almost twice the amount of property taxes per dollar of their home’s value than homeowners in Chicago, and 25 percent more than homeowners in the northern suburbs.  This tax imbalance is driving Flossmoor residents into housing foreclosures, dramatically reducing housing values as well as acting as a disincentive for new residential home purchasers.
     In addition, among many voters there is a perception that village employees and representatives are not approachable or informative in their interactions with the residents.  This problem is compounded by a perception of hostility on the Village’s behalf toward both small business owners and prospective new businesses.
     Residents are also fighting a sense of diminished civic pride as evidenced by the village’s lack of support for village-sponsored events and block parties over the last eight years. Likewise, the lack of code enforcement for houses currently in foreclosure diminishes the housing values for current and prospective home purchasers.

Goals: My main goal, if elected, would be to review all financial decisions for the village in terms of increasing property values for the homeowners.  The short-term goal would be to view each financial decision, i.e. village expenditures like the proposed multi-million dollar renovation of City Hall, with the idea of adding value to the individual property holder. The village board must be vigilant to not add services or expenditures that will impact negatively on the already inverted tax ratio of home value versus property tax per home.
     This goal can be advanced by continuing to attract new businesses to Flossmoor, and selecting programs that revitalize our civic spirit and create an attractive community for current residents. In doing so, we can proactively market and attract prospective home buyers which will boost and stabilize housing values.
     We must demand that municipal employees be accessible and friendly in their interactions with the residents.  In addition, we must demand that financial institutions that currently own foreclosed property in the village be held to the same standard as residents for code enforcement. By moving forward in these goals, we can revitalize Flossmoor for our entire community.


  Beverly Williams

Beverly Diane Williams
Education: MBA, Northwestern University.
Occupation: I am retired from the Safer Foundation, but continue to serve as president emeritus.
Incumbent: Yes. I am a trustee currently serving my third term.

Most important issues: Economic development is the most effective avenue for management of property taxes, unfunded mandates and threats to the village revenue streams based on state considerations to reduce or eliminate municipal-state shared tax revenues. Accounting procedural changes have also resulted in significant budget challenges. This is particularly true for the police and fire pension funds. Compliance with new standard dictates significant funding increases.
     Property values and village revenues related to property values have declined. Flossmoor, like most south suburban communities, was significantly impacted by the recent recession. The average median income declined. The village has experienced foreclosures; property appearance, in some instances, has declined.
     Maintaining high quality police, fire and public works levels at a reasonable price becomes more of a challenge as village revenues decline in some categories and are threatened in other categories. In spite of Flossmoor’s healthy financial position, acknowledgement of the issues and plans to address them must be developed.
     Neighboring communities face the same economic challenges as Flossmoor. Stand-alone Flossmoor and those neighboring communities are less likely to succeed.
     Flossmoor schools are facing student performance challenges. While much work is being done both by the schools and the community to improve results, progress is not as forthcoming as desired.

Goals: Complete the Vollmer Road Economic Development Initiative. Meijer is operational and contributing to village revenues at a slightly higher level than expected. Buona Beef was recently approved for construction. Plans have been submitted for review by two additional businesses and conversations with other potential development companies are underway. To date, we have not had to offer tax incentives to attract these businesses.
     Leverage our success with Meijer and other Vollmer Road businesses to secure development opportunities in the downtown Flossmoor area.
     Continue to expand resident involvement opportunities as I have since my tenure on the Community Relations Commission. Leveraging the diversity, competencies and energy of current residents has resulted in a vibrant Community Relations Commission, well supported community initiatives like MLK Day, Flossmoor Fest, the Arts Commission and an annual Meet and Greet for new residents.
     Collaborate with other south suburban communities for economic development and cost saving options. A recent agreement with the Park Forest fire department will result in equipment savings to both villages.
     Support the Flossmoor Schools, the H-F Park District and other sister agencies in their efforts to improve student learning levels and educational-recreational opportunities for our residents.
     Responsible fiscal management has been a priority for each of my previous years of service to the village and must remain a priority for each year going forward. This year’s flat village budget delays some spending not immediately necessary while funding priority initiatives. As always, I will work hard to protect village service levels and Flossmoor’s successful save and spend strategy.


Keitric Emory
Education: B.S., physical science, Eureka College, 1991; M.S., computer career program, DePaul University, 1999 M.Div., McCormick Theological Seminary, (May) 2017.
Occupation: Senior IT business analyst; Assistant Youth Pastor at Covenant United Church of Christ
Current employer: Cook County Pension Fund
Incumbent: No

Most important issues: One of the important issues I would like to address is property values and property taxes, by understanding what plans are currently in place to address these concerns and what needs to be worked on or developed in the near term with an eye towards the long term. I would also like to concentrate on ways to maintain and improve our village services without the need to increase taxes. I would also like to explore new ways of achieving economic development for Flossmoor, particularly through green
environment activities.

Goals: Flossmoor is a great place to raise a family and I would like explore ways to make it even better through continued economic development, fiscal innovation and public safety, enhancing the quality of life that we as residents deserve to enjoy.


Flossmoor Clerk:

  Joni Bradley-Scott

Joni Bradley-Scott
Education: M.A., organizational leadership, Lewis University, 2012; B.S. psychology and journalism & Mass Communication, 1999
Occupation: 16 years of higher education experience (Admissions, Academic Advising and Financial Aid)
Current employer: Access Group
Incumbent: No
Other elected positions: Junior building chair for Heather Hill Elementary School (I moved this to other elected, but not sure it is)

Most important issues: Some important issues that I would like to see addressed during my tenure are opportunities for growth. Since the United States President is focused on job growth, I would like to see these prospects in our community.  I would also like to see any and all systems that are valuating Flossmoor have an accurate assessment, e.g. schools
performance on test scores and overall operations as a town.

Goals: One of my goals for the village clerk position is to assist in providing transparency from the village to our residents. I hope that our community will continue to engage and become more knowledgeable about the day-to-day affairs. Most times people work outside of the community in which they live. Therefore, it is imperative to keep residents in the know on all facets of operations. My desire is to help our area remain an attractive place for people to live and raise families.

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