March 28, 2011 12:18PM
Tom Hawley, candidate Ward 1 Blue Island city council. | Supplied photo
Office sought: Alderman 1st Ward of Blue Island, IL, Independent Candidate
Name: Tom Hawley
Address: 13020 Greenwood Ave.
Blue Island, IL 60406
Web site: believeinblueisland.com
Education: BS in Accountancy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Certified Public Accountant
Occupation: Controller, GIA Publications, Inc., Bedford Park, IL
Please list all sources of income: GIA Publications, Inc.
Southwest Symphony Orchestra
Rental Income from property owned in Blue Island
What other elected offices have you sought? None
Criminal Record?: No
Political experience: Appointed to the Blue Island Historic Preservation Committee
In your view, what are the two most important issues facing your constituents? How would you address those issues?
Blue Island, being an old community, has a lot of infrastructure needs. Two closed bridges over the Calumet River, crumbling streets and curbs. Realistically, this takes a lot of money and resources to fix. I want to look closely at the budget for the City, look at the money that is available from the various TIF Districts in town and try to use that money to improve the City. I will work to seek out available funding options and try to allocate the needed matching funds from the City. These are tough economic times and we need to make sure we are spending the peoples’ money the smartest and most economical way.
The issue that got me to run for Alderman was the possible Plasma Arc Incinerator project on 119th St. While the Administration and their candidates will say that issue is dead, I was at a meeting in December where a group of ‘volunteers’ who were working on the Plasma Arc Committee—not from Blue Island, by the way—said the technology for that type of facility is still 25 years away. However, they were looking into other types of garbage processing facilities that could be put in that location instead. I believe that Blue Island can do better than having garbage from all over brought into town. They say they are oder-free. Whatever type of plant it is will require garbage to be trucked or brought into the City somehow. Additionally, such a project is talked about costing $450 million. I think there are a lot of other things we could spend that money on that could give us a better return, faster and improve our City.
Please explain something significant you would like to accomplish within the next two years if you are elected to the office to which you aspire.
I would like to increase transparency within the City Administration. I want to look at the Budget closely and let people know what the money is being spent on. The General Fund is where everything goes in and out and there isn’t a lot of information given to people about where their money is going. I would like to work to making the information more readily available to the citizens of Blue Island. It’s their hard earned money that is being spent and I’m finding, from talking to people, they don’t feel it’s being spent well. Then we need to decide if there is a way to pay the bills and have some left to allocate some funds to various projects around the City. Streets, bridges, beautification projects, etc.
Please explain how you believe the office you’re seeking can help in creating local jobs.
As Alderman, I think it’s important to work with the local businesses to try to keep them in town, first of all. The smaller, mom and pop shops are struggling, the big corporations are having a hard time. Taxes are going up. Real Estate taxes are going up. Salaries and wages are staying the same, or even going down. There’s only so much people have to give. I think there needs to smart development uptown and on 119th Street. We need to attract the right kind of businesses to the different parts of town. The Blue Island Plan is an excellent document with great guidelines for what types of businesses we should be trying to attract. Every small business employs someone, even if very part time. The larger businesses and chains can employ hundreds. We need to encourage our residents to support our local businesses. Shop in town, eat in town, use the service providers in town. All of this adds to more demand and more people needing to be hired.
Do you believe the current way Illinois pays for education is working? If so, why? If not, why not? What would you change?
I do not think it is working. There is too much difference between the schools on the North Shore and the schools around the rest of the state. There is a lot more money up there, their real estate taxes are incredibly expensive, they spend a lot more per student and have the latest, most up to date technology and the students have more access to it. Schools are very important to any community. Children need to learn and be prepared for their adult life. Money isn’t going to solve all of the problems, but a more equitable way of funding should be developed. It would also be good if the State would get caught up on their payments to the schools. The children are our future. Schools are cutting their extra curricular programs—music and the arts are the first to be cut. It’s sad to see that happening. It’s hard to change it. If you pay a flat amount per student, the smaller schools suffer downstate. Is it fair that the North Shore people pay so much in taxes for their schools and then they have to share it with the rest of the state? No. There needs to be a way developed to allocate equitably and justly so that every child is given the same opportunity. It’s a very difficult problem.
Would you make any changes to the budget of the governing unit to which you are seeking elected office? If so, what?
It needs to be made more transparent. We need to know what the money is being spent on before we can make changes. The treasurer’s report shows fund balances at the beginning of the month, money in, money out and the ending fund balance. There is no detail about where the money came in from and what it went for. It’s been that way for years. Payrolls are approved and accounts payable are approved and there isn’t much in the way of details provided to the citizens. The alderman ask about the budget and look to approve it, but I have never seen a detailed budget presented. As I said before, I would like to make that a little more transparent.
Are there any other issues you want to bring to the public’s attention? If so, what?
I have volunteered for and served on the Board of Directors of Main Street Blue Island for six years. I was the President of the Board for two years. During that time, I attended numerous workshops about businesses and attracting customers to local businesses. I worked on many committees including TGIF, the Progressive Dinner, the Blue Island Pro-Am, the Design Committee, Greenspace/Streetscape Committee and others. I have raised tens of thousands of dollars for local not for profits both in Blue Island and beyond. I served on the Blue Island Historic Preservation Commission for six years and was chair for two years. I worked on getting more historical markers put up for the historic properties in town, Cavalcade of Pride and organized a housewalk of Seyfarth homes to raise money for a grant available to historic property owners to help take the bite out of improving their historically significant properties appropriately.
I am invested in Blue Island. I may not have been born and raised in Blue Island, but I CHOSE to live in Blue Island. It was probably the best decision I ever made.
I believe in Blue Island and I want to work to make it an even better place to live, raise a family, work and own a business.