Candidate Name: Theresa Sullivan
Office Seeking: City Council
Subdivision with Zip Code: Saybrook, 60563
Campaign Website: www.sullivanfornaperville.org
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?
I decided to run because I want to ensure that the families of Naperville, particularly those with young and school-aged children at home, have a strong voice on City Council. We are a vital and significant portion of our community and the makeup of the Council should reflect that. When I realized that Rebecca Obarski and Becky Anderson were not going to seek re-election, I knew that Naperville would suffer from the loss of the voices of these intelligent, hard-working mothers and businesswomen. I love Naperville, I grew up here and I have the skills, temperament, and motivation to make good decisions for the safety and wellbeing of all of our residents. City Council has plenty of voices who advocate for businesses. We need more voices that advocate for our residents and families.
2. What quality and/or skill set will you bring to a nonpartisan 9-member City Council?
- Passion: I’m heavily invested in Naperville. I was raised here, I’m raising my three children here and I hope Naperville is in our family for generations to come.
- BBA in Management Information Systems from Notre Dame (‘98)
- MBA (‘04) and MS (‘06) from Northwestern University.
- Experience: Strong understanding of technology, software and finance/budgeting, plus experience negotiating multi-million-dollar contracts. Alum of Deloitte, IBM and LinkedIn.
- Vocation: Certified coach, founder, and partner of a nationwide career consulting firm, Wayfinder Advisors. I listen to people and help them overcome obstacles holding them back from their goals for a living — skills I will bring to bear on City Council.
- Leadership Style: I lead with accountability, integrity, and humility. I prioritize listening over talking.
- Ethics: I will insist that no member of Council ever votes on any matter where they have a conflict of interest.
3. What do you consider to be the three biggest issues facing the City today?
1) Lack of properly sized, affordable “missing middle” housing for families making less than $100K annually, including seniors and young families.
2) Government Transparency: Naperville residents should be able to trust that their mayor, staff and City Council members are making decisions free of professional, financial or social conflicts of interests, and are respectful of those who come to City Council meetings to speak.
3) Environmental sustainability: Naperville must decrease its dependence on coal for electricity. We must ensure we have continual access to clean water because that is a resource becoming scarcer by the day. Naperville’s last sustainability plan was published in 2010. We need to do another study and take concrete steps to make sure that we mitigate the risks Naperville faces with climate change and build for a future built on clean energy, clean air and clean water.
4. Realistically and fiscally speaking, if you could change/improve one thing in the City, what would it be?
Commuter parking and transportation issues at the Naperville and Rte. 59 train stations. We need to make sure daily commuters, and even occasional travelers to the city in all parts of Naperville have fewer issues getting to and from and parking at the train station for a more affordable price. Bus routes are expensive and lengthy and the current parking permit situation at the Naperville station is antiquated and inefficient. Current smart city technologies are available to help solve this problem and we should do this before the City makes any big decisions about planning more parking or development around 5th Avenue.
5. What do you think the City Council could do to help keep Naperville affordable for homeowners of all ages?
Changing demographics mean that in order to stay relevant, Naperville must clear the way for housing footprints that are smaller and less expensive (<$200K) than the city’s usual new developments entail. I am excited that the City is looking at its Master Plan once again and I believe City Council should work with Staff on zoning for this “middle housing” affordable option so our young couples and our empty nesters have housing options that keep them as community contributors in Naperville.
6. What City amenity is most important/attractive to you and how should its care and maintenance be funded?
I love going to a quiet place with tea and a good book, and I have three kids who love to read as well, so my favorite Naperville amenity is the Naperville Public Library. It’s a place my kids and I like to go for fun to see all the books, do crafts, listen to lectures or watch movies. When I started my business, the library became even more important because it was an invaluable resource for getting my company set up. SCORE mentors have meetings there and the NaperLaunch space is an amazing resource for people starting businesses. Our property taxes pay for the library and I think it is a great value for our money.
7. What should be done about the Special Events and Cultural Amenities (SECA) fund, if anything?
I think the City has a duty to spend SECA funds in a manner that is fair, objective, transparent, consistent and supports its stated mission. We have some work to do there, but I think it is moving in the right direction. Further, I don’t think anybody who is a leader or member of a group that asks for SECA funds should have a position on the SECA commission. It is yet another example of conflicts of interest that plague some Naperville commissions.
8. What can the City of Naperville do better to retain and attract businesses that encourages development?
I would like to make room in downtown and in various smaller malls for more businesses owned by Naperville residents and for the City to support “buy local” initiatives. It is so easy for all of us to buy online and have things delivered right to our doors, but with so many large companies avoiding taxes, putting smaller brick and mortar stores out of business and that burden being shifted onto resident taxes to make up for it, I think educating Naperville about how supporting local business helps our entire community in big and small ways is very important. If more people saw Naperville as friendly to local business, I think we could attract more people to shop here.
9. Are you a proponent of Tax Increment Financing (TIF)? NO
10. Do you live in School District 203 or School District 204? D203
Please tell anything else that distinguishes your interest in serving Naperville in 150 words or less…
CIty Council should be representative of the people it serves. My story as someone who grew up here, received a top-notch education in D203, married, became a successful career woman and mother and moved home to be close to family and raise my own kids here is not a unique story in Naperville, but it is an important one. Many of the people on the sidelines of the soccer games, at the band concerts and the volunteer activities that I’m at on a daily basis in Naperville have similar lives to mine, but they do not have representatives on City Council in that same mode of life. My interests are being a voice for the families of Naperville in the thick of raising their children here and making decisions that enhance our families’ well-being and safety.