Candidate Name: Patty Gustin
Office Seeking: City Council
Subdivision with Zip Code: Atwater, 60563
Campaign Website: www.electgustin.com
The following answers have only been formatted for purposes of this website. Answers submitted by candidates have not been edited for grammar or content.
1. When and why did you first decide to run to serve Naperville City Council?
You elected me to Council in 2015 for a fresh leadership balance. For the first time, Council had 4 women, 4 men, and the Mayor; each with equal votes. I’m running again because this election is more important than ever. 2 experienced women are not seeking reelection, and the Council majority is being elected (4 Councilpersons, 1 Mayor). This majority can set the tone and focus of our City. There are several running that are risky, 1-issue, negatively-focused candidates with no record of independence, fairness, fiscal balance, or devotion to Naperville. You know I can be trusted to fight the good fight for all our community and balance finance and development with fairness and safety. Together, we will keep Naperville safe and growing with our community’s vision, not mine, not any individual’s, like the best City leaders before us, and for all those after us.
2. What quality and/or skill set will you bring to a nonpartisan 9-member City Council?
I listen. I don’t tell you what you need. But, I make the tough, studied, correct decisions for all of Naperville. I have a record of respectful representation. I’m a 20-year Naperville businesswoman, legal professional, wife, and mother with a 19-year record representing you on Naperville Council, Plan, and Zoning Boards. I cherish we are a friendly and diverse community, like my own family. It’s why we live and work here, and why our kids come home to live and raise their families. I know finances are important (in my 4-years we paid-off an inherited $6M budget deficit, $2M annual deficits from pensions and rising costs, saved our AAA bond rating, rebuilt our reserves, and paid down our debt for future infrastructure and repairs), but so is inclusiveness, strong resident and business communities, and safety (we implemented model tobacco-21 sales and opioid ordinances to protect youth). I represent all of Naperville.
3. What do you consider to be the three biggest issues facing the City today?
1) Improve community engagement/involvement and City planning transparency so: a) none feel unheard, unequal or unwelcome (e.g. 5th Avenue development, and North and South Naperville); b) homeownership and business entry barriers are lowered; and c) business growth cuts residential taxes.
2) Expedite the adoption of cost-saving IT technologies, help by creating a resident IT Advisory Board, and improve City operating processes to deliver greater safety, streamlined City services, and cost-reducing efficiencies that eliminate the sales tax that was promised to sunset.
3) Grow Naperville in a responsible/sustainable way that protects against future budget deficits and tax growth (unfunded Federal and State mandates, and personnel and operating costs that rise with the rest of the economy), that stays within Naperville’s character, and does not compound traffic and other known problems.
4. Realistically and fiscally speaking, if you could change/improve one thing in the City, what would it be?
Continue to promote improvement of the Ogden Corridor with a mix of business and residential, each being a financial engine supporting the other’s success, in a way that can also address affordability/aging-in-place residence concerns, work/live/play-in-Naperville ambitions for lower income residents, and that uses green technology to link this new area with Naperville’s commuter rail and downtown (that could also be used for remote parking commuting thereby reducing downtown traffic congestion). Financial incentives exist at State and Federal levels to promote such business and home development for what is conceivably a “blighted” area, particularly if these efforts can achieve attainable housing targets, and Pace and the City’s own utility company might joint venture for such green transportation (electric overhead buses, CNG, etc.). This is a community vision worth exploring with the community.
5. What do you think the City Council could do to help keep Naperville affordable for homeowners of all ages?
Lower taxes (noting the City’s is only 10% of your bill, and it’s at the lowest rate in 50 years). Foremost, we might stop saying how badly we’re doing. Naperville has a broad array of housing options. The DuPage County Housing Authority says more Section 8 vouchers are used in Naperville than any other DuPage city. The character of our neighborhoods cannot successfully be changed by ordinance edict, it’s counterproductive to development, and calling high-density housing senior friendly is not in Naperville’s character. Some consider the 5th Avenue development ripe for this housing. But, noisy rail locations are not especially popular with senior citizens that prefer to keep their homes and not downsize. And housing proximate to the train line to commute somewhere else to work is contrary to building attainable housing for lower income residents to live and work in Naperville. There’s no easy answer, but consider 4 above.
6. What City amenity is most important/attractive to you and how should its care and maintenance be funded?
Naperville is blessed with many public and private amenities that we protect and maintain in different ways. The Riverwalk, The Carillon, and Naper Settlement are the public amenities that come to mind first. Naperville’s identity is associated with them. Our celebrations incorporate them. The Carillon is on the weather news every day, and Naperville’s subliminal marketing to visitors, and new businesses, and new residents. Our heritage is passed to the next generations by preserving them. City landmarks are “cultural amenities” worthy of protecting and maintaining; indeed they can be controversial. Talking with young people who say “you are crazy to take down the Carillon” sharing their memories of first dates, concerts, etc. Using the SECA fund for these and other deserving Naperville heritage structures is a possible and existing funding source.
7. What should be done about the Special Events and Cultural Amenities (SECA) fund, if anything?
If RibFest leaves Naperville, one of the largest “legacy” grantees, how SECA funding is allocated must be re-evaluated. Naperville is rich with wonderful organizations many who will come forward to offer a July 4th event most likely on a smaller scale. Related to 6 above, particularly considering the food and beverage tax funding source for SECA, we might visit whether those funds are proper to offset City amenity costs, or reduce the tax. The SECA also pays for a part of City pensions, and while some consider abolishing SECA, this budget need will then need to be filled in some other manner that, likely, runs contrary to holding the line on, or reducing, other taxes.
8. What can the City of Naperville do better to retain and attract businesses that encourages development?
The City has experienced solid business growth over the past 4 years, for example: The Shuman (former OfficeMax Hqs.); Aldi Hqs.; Patel Brothers Grocery (Old Menard); Hotel Indigo; Chevron; Elements at Water Street; Andy’s Frozen Custard; and 215–231 East Ogden redevelopment. Several yet-public businesses plan to join Naperville. The Naperville Development Partnership and Chamber of Commerce have materially helped achieve these successes, and we need to stay the course of low taxes and high quality City services (including our World-class Police and Fire Departments, and our TED and Public Works City staff). Naperville’s small businesses keep our hometown feel, supporting them is important to keeping the character of Naperville for years to come. We do need to stay attentive to a neighboring City’s (Aurora) efforts to impose a large TIF zone along Naperville’s western city limit that can be very detrimental to both business and residential growth and values.
9. Are you a proponent of Tax Increment Financing (TIF)? Generally I am not, but there are times TIFs make financial sense.
10. Do you live in School District 203 or School District 204? D204
Please tell anything else that distinguishes your interest in serving Naperville in 150 words or less…
Please see my website at: www.electgustin.com.