Election 2013: Matt Bogusz for Des Plaines Mayor
Third Ward Alderman Matt Bogusz is running against Anthony “Tony” Arredia and Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Walsten for mayor of Des Plaines.
The following information was provided by Matt Bogusz. Patch provides a platform for candidates to share their messages, and does not give endorsements. To share your message with readers for free, add it to the Local Voices section on Des Plaines Patch.
Mayor of Des Plaines
Campaign contact information. Please include any or all of the following: website, email address, phone number, Facebook page, Twitter account, mailing address, etc.
Phone: (224) 725-3856
Family Include as much info as you like (names, ages, number of children, etc.):
Matt is a lifelong resident of Des Plaines, Illinois. His family still lives on Prairie Avenue and Matt owns a home in The Villas neighborhood. He is engaged to his college sweetheart Kate.
Education Include degree(s) and school(s):
BA, Political Science, International Studies, with a minor in Transportation & Logistics
Associate Director – Starcom MediaVest Group
Official name of your campaign committee (if you have one):
Citizens for Matt Bogusz
Previous Elected or Appointed Offices:
Alderman, 3rd Ward (2009-2013)
Trustee, Des Plaines Public Library (2007-2009)
Commissioner, Des Plaines Special Events Commission (2006-2007)
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position?
Northwest Municipal Conference – Legislative Committee Member (2012-2013)
Boy Scouts of America - Northwest Suburban Council Board of Directors (2012)
Northwestern Alumni Association Board of Directors (2009)
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
Campaign Issue #1
When I entered city government in 2009 I found an organization suffering from crushing debt, meager savings, ten years of property tax levy increases, and a lackluster credit rating. Since 2009, the city has paid down over $20 million in debt, increased savings from $1.7 million to over $18 million, maintained a 0% property tax levy increase for the past three years, and gained a strong A2 credit rating.
We need experienced financial leadership to continue this positive momentum. Taxpayers deserve an efficient and prudent city that strives to do more with less.
Campaign Issue #2
Governing for Results
Across Des Plaines, families make informed decisions on what they need to spend money on and what they can live without. The city can define itself as a leader in municipal government and finance by beginning to live by this same principle.
We need government focused on results; defining benchmarks, identifying goals, and rewarding performance across the organization, developing a high performance culture. We’ll keep what works, change what doesn’t, and maximize the service delivered to the residents of Des Plaines.
Campaign Issue #3
Protecting Casino Revenue
The former administration signed a deal to win the 10th and final gaming license; this deal guaranteed revenue for the State of Illinois and placed all of the risk on the City of Des Plaines. I wrote and passed a resolution that protects our revenue, saving it for debt reduction and infrastructure investment. In 2013, the resolution took effect and millions in debt was repaid early while beginning a 5-year, $10 million project to solve flooding problems throughout the city.
What are the most important issues facing Des Plaines and what would you do as mayor to address them?
In 2003, Moody’s downgraded Des Plaines’ credit rating to A3 due, in large part, to escalating debt. In 2009, our city’s debt was at $82 million. As Chairman of the Finance and Administration Committee, I have led the effort to pay down debt early. Today, our debt rests at $58 million and Moody’s upgraded our rating to A2. While we have made significant progress, the primary threat to Des Plaines is our municipal debt. Additional attention must be paid to our debt burden if we want to get aggressive about capital improvement or economic development.
How do you believe gaming tax revenue collected by Des Plaines should be spent? What should it be spent on?
Former administrations maxed out the city’s credit card on infrastructure projects. In the 2013 budget, we successfully in paid down a debt issuance acquired to construct sidewalks, streets, and sewers in 2004. We need to learn from this backwards approach to capital investment. I’m proud to have written and passed a resolution that protects our new casino revenue, saving it only for infrastructure investment and debt reduction.
Retiring debt currently burdening the city’s capital improvements fund will reduce our annual debt payment while allowing today’s capital dollars to be spent on today’s projects. Beyond debt, this new casino revenue will allow the city to proactively address flooding concerns across Des Plaines.
There have been a number of proposals to expand gaming in Illinois. If elected, what would you do to protect Des Plaines’ interests with respect to gaming?
Any incremental gaming position added in the State of Illinois is directly opposed to the best interests of Des Plaines. If elected, I would work closely with the city lobbyists and local leaders in Springfield to ensure that future gaming expansion effectively protects us. I’d work to proactively understand the political climate and ensure that we maintain a vigilant presence in the State Capitol.
The city has $58.3 million in debt in the capital improvements fund, the tax increment financing funds and the water and sewer fund. Approximately $4.4 million in the capital improvements fund will become callable in 2013. If elected, would you support refinancing this debt or paying it off immediately, and why?
Assuming the casino revenue resolution stays on the books, we’ll be in a strong position, ready to pay off this callable debt. I wholeheartedly believe that we should pay off this debt early.
Downtown Des Plaines has a low occupancy rate in the retail spaces in the Metropolitan Square development. If you are elected mayor, what would you do to address this?
Three equally important factors must be in place if Des Plaines is going to be successful attracting and retaining businesses in the downtown area:
1) Leadership by Example: Pragmatic business people look for stability and fiscal health before selecting a city to move to. In 2009, Des Plaines was nearly bankrupt. Today, Moody’s has upgraded our credit rating, debt is down, savings is up, and our property tax levy hasn’t increased in three years. Des Plaines needs to lead by example if we’re to attract healthy businesses to town.
2) Procedural Predictability: Business people require predictability so they can plan for the future. Whether through permits, economic incentives, or inspections, the city has a great many procedures that businesses need to manage.
3) Competitive Environment: We’re in active competition with neighboring communities for new business. Investment in streetscape and commitment to economic incentives will make us competitive with other cities. In the 2013 budget, I supported improvements to the downtown business district and fully funded budgets for incentive programs designed to attract new businesses while retaining existing businesses.
The Des Plaines Police Department is involved with a number of lawsuits, including, most recently, accusations that a former commander falsified records. If elected mayor, what would you do to address the litigation? What would you do to gain the public’s trust in the Des Plaines Police Department?
99.9% of all city employees are honest, hardworking, and dedicated. Our police department is no exception to that rule. Our new Police Chief has worked to quickly inspire trust in his department and I’d work with him to show our community examples of the good work done by the department. The process of rebuilding public trust will take time and it has just begun.
Why would you do a better job representing Des Plaines than your opponent?
Residents are tired of the politics of the past. They’re ready for something different and they recognize that they can’t elect the same people and expect a different result. I’m a lifelong resident of Des Plaines and first time homeowner. In August, I’m getting married to my college sweetheart and am dedicated to making a better Des Plaines for my new family. I’ll do a better job representing Des Plaines because I’ve learned from our past, already started mending our city’s present finances, and am prepared to lead the city towards a bright future.