March 29, 2011 7:42PM
Office: JJC District #525 Trustee
Name: Mike O’Connell
Address: 19756 Tanglewood Drive Elwood, IL. 60421
Phone number: 815 263-5480 (cell)
BA Augustana College
MA Indiana State University
Administrative Degree Governor State University (Type 75)
Vocational Education Certification Southern Illinois University
Occupation, employer: Retired educator. Taught at Joliet Township High Schools for 33 years (physical education, vocational education and dean of students). Also, coached various sports including head boys basketball coach for 14 years
Please list all sources of income: TRS (teacher retirement system). Substitute dean at Minooka High School
Spouse, spouse’s employer: Justine O’Connell. Retired educator. Worked 22 years at Union School in Joliet
Children, age of children, children’s employer (if applicable)
Coley O’Connell-39 years old. Teacher at Lincoln-way North High School
Carrie Prosek-37 years old. Teacher at Minooka High School
Laci O’Connell-Tibble 35 years old. Homemaker
Rory O’Connell-33 years old. Teacher at Lockport High School
Please list any relatives, including in-laws, who are employed by a government agency at the federal, state or local levels. What are their job titles and with what agency are they employed? Several members of our family are teachers throughout the Will and Kendall county area.
What other elected offices have you sought? What year?
Jackson Townhship Collector (appointed in 2005, elected in 2009)
Will County Board of Education (2007)
Joliet Township High School Board (last minute write in candidate 2007)
Have you ever been arrested or charged with a crime? If so, what? What was the disposition?
Do you have any criminal convictions on your record? If so, what? What was your sentence?
Political (elected or significant appointment) experiece:
Jackson Township Collector
Head of the planning Commission for Jackson Township
Severed over 10 years on the Forest Park Community Center
In your view, what are the two most important issues facing your constituents? How would you address those issues?
1) Keeping property taxes down
2) Creating or bring in meaningful job opportunities
Property taxes- people are being taxed out of their homes. JJC has recently passed a tax levy (I voted against it) and administration recommend at tuition increase (voted down). It is time to quit hitting the taxpayers and students for funding. In Feb. of 2010 I recommended a “Energy/Cost Reduction Committee” be formed. During the past year over $400,000 in operating cost has been saved (most of this on a yearly basis). Belt tightening needs to continue. I have recommended bring in an outside consultant to analysis the entire operation of the college (administrative set up, program viability, workers compensation packages, etc.)
Job creation-Currently JJC has created a large number of construction jobs with the building program that is going on (over $100 million). Once these building are built other jobs will be created (must maintain and secure buildings). This is good and bad. Although creating jobs, the funding must come out of the JJC budget.
Throughout District #525 JJC needs to work closely with current job trends and try and create some partnerships with business that are on the rise and/or have a large employment base (Distribution Centers, the third airport, casinos, restaurants, hotels, etc.)
Please explain something significant you would like accomplish within the next two years if you are elected to the office to which you aspire.
Update and expand the JJC placement service. Currently JJC does a great job of recruiting students and educating students. In my opinion JJC needs to do a much better job of helping students to the next level (finding a job in the field they are trained).
Please explain how you believe the office you’re seeking can help in creating jobs.
Answered this above-but simply stated JJC needs to stay on top of current job trends in the area and work partnerships with area businesses.
Do you believe the current way Illinois pays for education is working? If so, why? If not, why not? What would you change?
I think it is working, but it is not fair! Although everyone needs to contribute to education doing so through property taxes is highly unfair to certain groups (elderly on a fixed income, individuals without children, etc). I personally would like to see school funding taken eliminated from our property taxes. Some form of the fair tax system needs to be developed with the state sales tax. My understanding of this “Fair Tax” is that the sales tax would be increased, so those buying more are paying more and those buying less are paying less (fixed income). Also, those purchasing any items with money obtained illegally would be contributing through this system. Very complex and something for the politicians downstate to solve.
Would you make changes to the budget of the governing unit to which you are seeking elected office? If so, what?
JJC has a big budget and employs a lot of people. It’s a big operation. Recently JJC hired Tammy Rust as the VP of business. She is currently looking at the entire operation of the college and looking for ways to streamline our method of operation. This process will take a few years, but I have confidence that things will be much more efficient without losing the quality of education. We have already started tightening our belts through the “Energy/Cost Reduction Committee”. Also, bringing in a part time auditor has been discussed to look at each program being offered to make sure the program is cost effective and viable.
re there any other issues you want to bring to the public’s attention? If so, what?
I have been very outspoken against the 43 million dollar proposal in downtown Joliet. I have called it someone’s wish list. Although our culinary arts program does a fantasitc job with it’s students and has some great teachers, I question the number of student’s gaining meaningful employment in this area.
Last Fall I asked for the number of students who graduated in the spring of 2010 and how many were employed. The staff were found less than 20% of their graduates working. This is something they haven’t kept track of. I proposed at a steering committee meeting in December that they keep the program at the main campus and expand it into the exsisting cafeteria kitchen area (new cafeteria being opened this fall). Hopefully the culinary arts staff will do a better job of tracking their graduates, so we can see some actual numbers of those finding meaningful employment.