Candidate Name: James Haselhorst
Office Seeking: City Council
Campaign Website: www.napervillecandidate.com
Subdivision/Neighborhood: Martin Subdivision
Occupation and/or Professional Training: Dental Practice Manager
How long in years have you been a Naperville resident? I moved to Naperville in 1993 so as of April it will be 28 years.
Service on Boards, Commissions, Task Forces, etc. with dates served (nonprofit too): I have not served on any city boards or commissions. The only elected office I have run for in the past is Mayor.
The following answers have only been edited for formatting purposes.
1. Why are you running for City Council?
I believe my years of government and military experience along with my experience managing a private business along with my MBA provide me with a unique set of perspectives on the challenges our community will face in the future. I have spend over 25 years attending, watching and participating in city council and other city committee/board meetings. I see the city’s future challenges mainly being the changes in business & retail resulting from the Pandemic and the need to keep our community progressing and staying germane as a family friendly and safe community.
2. What is Naperville’s most pressing need?
Traffic is a major concern in Naperville. A drive from 95th Street to Diehl or the downtown area during times of low traffic volume can take as little as 15 minutes, but during times of heavy traffic it can take over and hour. Naperville has grown to the point is needs a serious public transportation option. The current PACE buses simply are no longer adequate to meet the transportation needs of the general public (non-train station commuters).
3. In your opinion, what’s the City’s most important private/public partnership?
What is most important depends on what metric you are using to determine importance. For me importance is dependent on community impact (financial, quality of life, depth of reach in the community, community character, etc.) as well as longevity. Using this metric SECA is Naperville’s most important public/private partnership.
- The festivals, concerts, parades, etc along with the Murals, museums, statues, fountains and the Riverwalk itself that are funded by SECA attract visitors to our community that then dine, shop and take tours (trolley, Tuk Tuk) that provide financial strength to our communities economy.
- These same events and amenities also provide greater quality of life for Naperville residents and attract businesses to our community.
- SECA funds touch all aspects of our community (religious, arts, sports, music, charities, education, cultural) and reach deep into the nature of our community
- SECA funding provides charities and non-profits with the means to create opportunities for volunteerism within our community as well as advance our family friendly brand.
- The results of these events and amenities are enduring. The Parks, Pavilions, Plazas, recreational opportunities, entertainment opportunities well endure for generations both physically and as endearing family & community memories.
No other city public/private partnership can come close to claiming it does half of what SECA does.
4. Name three policies that need review or immediate attention.
The three policies that I believe need to change are:
- variance approval – the current process involves going to city staff to find out what is required and filling the appropriate paperwork. Then the request goes to Planning and Zoning, it does not matter if city staff endorse the variance or not. It does not matter of PZC approves the request or not the next step is it goes to city council (either as approved or as an appeal of denial). This process is resource intensive and wasteful. Years ago city council instructed city staff to come up with an alternative to this process and report back to council. The staff recommended a process that had three means to approveal. The first was the petitioner gets a certain percentage of their neighbors to agree with granting the variance. In this case city staff could grant the variance without further approval. If this failed the petitioner could appeal to Planning and Zoning. If approved staff could grant the variance without further approval. If PZC denied the variance the petitioner could then appeal to city council. This process was estimated to result in most variances being granted at the staff level without ever going to PZC or council.
- cannabis ordinance – I was disappointed that when Naperville Opted In it did not allow for grow, processing and distribution operations in Naperville, only dispensaries. In communities that have allowed these type of cannabis businesses they have seen a significant drop in retail and office space vacancy rates. These operations also create jobs who’s employees end up spending some of their earning in the community were they work. It is estimated that the Pandemic will create a reduced demand for retail and office space, these businesses could fill that void and keep the city’s tax base healthy.
- Southside business district and amenities – the common complaint of south Naperville residents is that the city does not do enough to enhance the quality of life on the south side of town. They don’t have a business district like downtown. They don’t have a public walkway rich in amenities like the Riverwalk. They don’t even have any big box retail like Costco, Walmart, K-Mart, etc. When the Northside residents complained about the Ogden Avenue corridor the city started doing studies and looking at proposals and other ways to entice businesses to locate in this area. But when the south side complains about not having anything but golf courses all they hear from city hall is crickets. The city needs to get serious about developing a plan to enrich the quality of life for south Naperville residents.
5. How often are you in touch with members of the current Naperville City Council of City Staff?
On average I would say I reach out to members of the city staff, council, other committes and boards a round 3-4 times a month.
6. What planned development will have the greatest impact on the City?
The 5th Avenue Project has the greatest potential for impacting Naperville. This would represent a major redevelopment of the downtown area and greatly increasing the size of the downtown business district. If properly done it will resolve many issues that have plagued the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. Solving storm water issues, traffic issues, public safety issues, parking issues, improving access and green space to name a few. The financial impact would be considerable as well since it would, at the very least, take these properties off of the city rolls and put them in the public domain were they will provide a significant amount of property taxes over the next 10 years.
7. What up-and-coming development is most important to the City of Naperville?
Of the developments currently under consideration by the city the Nokia property redevelopment would be the most significant addition of property to the municipality. This 67 acre site with around 240 residential units will be the largest residential PUD on the north side of town in many years.
8. How often do you patronize Naperville restaurants?
I patronize local restaurants a couple of times a week, mostly take out. Pre-pandemic dinning in was 2-3 times a month on average. I have not done any dinning in since the pandemic started in March.
9. When folks come to visit, where do you take them in Naperville?
I generally take folks in town visiting to the downtown business district and Riverwalk. Depending on the situation I might take them up to one of the Freedom Drive area restaurants.
10. How has the Special Events and Cultural Amenities (SECA) Fund served the City of Naperville?
SECA is essential in helping promote special events (Festival, Parades, Concerts, etc) as well as amenities (Murals, statues, fountains, gardens, etc) that not only improve the quality of life for Naperville residents, but help attract visitors from neighboring communities that then dine and shop in our community. The sales taxes these activities help generate are significant in funding city operating costs each year and helping to keep property taxes down.
11. When was the last time you read the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?
The last time I read the Constitution and Bill of Rights entirety was maybe a year ago. But I do re-read sections of the Constitution and Bill of Rights from time to time to refresh my memory of the exact wording.
12. What do you think is significant about Naperville’s council-manager form of government?
The most significant part of our current form of city government is having full time, highly trained and experienced professionals running and overseeing the daily operations of our city. This government structure not only makes this possible but also creates an environment of enhanced continuity that provides residents and businesses with consistency and predictability when dealing with the city (things are not constantly changing with the political winds).
13. What is a recent book, television program, or movie you have read/watched that you think everyone should read/watch to gain perspective on life?
Most of the books I read these days tend to be of a reference of textbook nature and not generally well suited for providing life perspectives but “Surely Your Joking Mr. Feynman” did provide some interesting perspectives on life. The only TV program I watch with any regularity is “Blue Bloods”. I find the dinner scenes insightful and very reminiscent of my family dinners growing up. Of course the conversations at our family table were about school and commercial construction instead of law enforcement but the value of a family you can depend on and talk to when you need them is the same.
Anything else would you like to add?
I would like to add the one thing that I become concerned about every consolidated election. Every election there are candidates that seem more interested in using city council membership as a means, or a stepping stone, to building a career as a professional politician. Such candidates concern me because they are more likely to use their position on the dais to do what is in the best interest of their political career then what is in the best interest of the community and it residents.