Candidate Name: Paul Leong
Office Seeking: City Council
Campaign Website: www.voteleong.com
Subdivision/Neighborhood: Chestnut Ridge
Occupation and/or Professional Training: Finance, Accounting, IT
How long in years have you been a Naperville resident? 22 years
Service on Boards, Commissions, Task Forces, etc. with dates served (nonprofit too): D203 School Board 2017-2021, Art of Inclusion 2020-2021
The following answers have only been edited for formatting purposes.
1. Why are you running for City Council?
I want to help guide Naperville into the future. Some great leaders served before me, and they built something unique and wonderful here in this town. I want to protect what they have accomplished, and ensure that future generations can build their futures in Naperville and be as proud of our city as I am.
2. What is Naperville’s most pressing need?
Naperville needs financially sound leadership to support the citizens of Naperville during our struggle to weather the pandemic and rebuild our lives and town. A recession is projected, and my background in accounting and audit could be essential to working through tough budgeting decisions. While on the D203 board, we permanently cut the levy and called for the first refund (in process) in the history of the district, all while leaving a healthy surplus and maintaining outstanding academic performance. It is my goal not only to survive, but to thrive as a stronger and more united city.
3. In your opinion, what’s the City’s most important private/public partnership?
It’s our outstanding public schools. Many families move to Naperville due to the quality of education that is available here, and it remains the core of our family friendly reputation and our property values. Many businesses and universities seek out our graduates due in no small part to the quality education that they have received in Naperville. As a current D203 Naperville School Board member, I am well positioned to further develop and support this critical partnership, as I have first-hand knowledge of the issues faced by the school district in addition to its strengths and celebrations.
4. Name three policies that need review or immediate attention.
1) Public safety policies should remain a high priority to keep ALL of our residents and businesses safe in a rapidly changing and evolving environment. All residents should be treated with respect and dignity by all representatives of the city.
2) Policies regarding development options to address affordable and attainable housing stock will continue to affect all residents, and we need to craft these policies carefully to balance the needs of existing residents with those of new residents.
3) The Ethics Ordinance could be improved to further promote sound financial governance.
5. How often are you in touch with members of the current Naperville City Council of City Staff?
As a D203 school board member, there is seldom a month that goes by that I don’t communicate with city council members and/or the mayor. This regular communication reminds our leaders that we are in this together, and even if we disagree, that we are all well-intentioned and care deeply about our city.
6. What planned development will have the greatest impact on the City?
The 5th Avenue development will continue to have far ranging impact on Naperville. Commuting and telecommuting changes, some prompted by the pandemic, will require our leaders to be both agile and adaptable to guide us to continued prosperity. Our city council needs to look carefully at financial, community, and cultural dynamics during these challenging times to successfully lead Naperville into the future. I possess these attributes and I have the vision to forge a pathway through what is certain to be a dense forest of uncertainty.
7. What up-and-coming development is most important to the City of Naperville?
Costco on Ogden will become an important source of revenue for the City of Naperville, in addition to kickstarting that entire area for further future development (see Amazon Fresh).
8. How often do you patronize Naperville restaurants?
Time and funds permitting, I estimate that my family and I and patronize Naperville restaurants about once a week. More so during non-pandemic times.
9. When folks come to visit, where do you take them in Naperville?
Naper settlement is a family favorite, and my visitors love their summer concerts. Ribfest was another great destination (sigh), as well as Last Fling which had/have great music, food, drinks, and family fun. Before the pandemic, we indulged more often in the great live music, food, and fun available in the downtown area and beyond. My family and friends look forward to enjoying all of these and more in the very near future!!
10. How has the Special Events and Cultural Amenities (SECA) Fund served the City of Naperville?
SECA serves by adding a resident voice to an important source of funding and support from Naperville. To be more inclusive and diverse, it is important to highlight and acknowledge a variety of different cultures to promote an environment of cooperation and unity. As we learn about and get to know each other more, understanding, appreciation, and respect may follow. The City Council, though increasing in diversity, benefits from the appointment of a variety of residents to SECA to create communication opportunities for potentially underserved communities, beyond what has been accomplished through elections. What happens today will become our heritage.
11. When was the last time you read the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?
I performed a fairly thorough review of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights in 2019 to support my children’s curriculum both in Junior High and in High School. I did a brief, targeted review in 2020 during the most recent Supreme Court Justice appointment with my whole family.
12. What do you think is significant about Naperville’s council-manager form of government?
Naperville council-manager form of government allows the elected representatives to govern, without having to engage directly in the day to day operation of the City. This is similar to my school board service, where the board hires the Superintendent (often a Ph.D in education with decades of experience) to manage day-to-day operations, so the board can concentrate on governing (for example: setting goals, budgeting, policy making, establishing direction, etc.). I have some experience working within this structure, and I understand many of the advantages and limitations.
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?
I recently watched It’s a Wonderful Life with a teen who attempted suicide. Being long and in B&W it was a hard sell, but it brought the message that each life has many ripple effects that affect many others, and how precious life is, and to embrace your life and the lives of others. It touched me, as usual, and I pray that it touched the troubled teen too. During these often dark pandemic times, this is as important as in ’46. My service has made me the richest man in town, and no man is a failure who has friends.
Anything else would you like to add?
What makes me a good representative is my broad life experience and a strong desire to listen and learn. I moved to Naperville as a young single professional to work at Bell Labs. I’m now part of a Naperville family, which benefitted from the great neighbors, schools, parks, libraries, and the safe, family friendly environment for 20+ years. My oldest child is a senior at NCHS, and I hear the distant call of empty nesters. As a D203 board member, have learned about service, leadership, and the how things get done. Please allow me to continue to serve you.