Four candidates are seeking the seat of Sugar Grove township supervisor.
Former Sugar Grove Township clerk and current trustee Tom Rowe is a candidate for the position of township supervisor on the April 9 General Election ballot.
Rowe holds a Bachelor of Science in recreation administration from George Williams College, and was Warrenville Park District’s superintendent of recreation from 2007 to 2012. He’s also an inaugural member of St. Katherine Drexel Catholic Church in Sugar Grove.
Rowe views the position of township supervisor as the chief executive officer of the township. He said a supervisor, as treasurer of the township and road district funds, has numerous financial reporting responsibilities, as townships are the governmental entities charged with three basic functions: general assistance for the needy, the assessment of real property for the basis of local taxation, and the maintenance of all roads and bridges outside federal, state and other local jurisdiction.
“Township government may provide other vital services to their residents, including senior citizen programs, youth programs, assistance to the disabled, parks and recreational facilities, health services, local transportation, open space and cemetery maintenance,” Rowe said.
Rowe recently retired from the field of parks and recreation after 36 years, and decided to run for the position vacated by former township supervisor Dan Nagel in October 2012. In terms of qualifications, Rowe is the longest-serving member currently on the Township Board, and he has worked in the public sector and local government his entire career, having held various positions at the supervisory and management level.
“(I’ve) worked face to face with many community groups, organizations and taxpayers, and understand their needs and concerns,” he said.
If elected, Rowe’s top priorities on the Township Board would include supporting and expanding youth and senior services at the Township Senior Center and Community House through collaboration with the Park District, Public Library, Waubonsee Community College and other local agencies and non-profit organizations.
Rowe wants to automate township operations to make information and services more accessible residents while improving transparency and accountability. He also intends to collaborate with other Sugar Grove taxing bodies to determine interest on a joint purchase of the Prairie Glen property as a future sports complex.
“With the uncertainty of the current Sugar Grove Sports Complex on Wheeler Road, it is important to communicate with other partners in Sugar Grove to explore future options,” he said.
Rowe plans to achieve his goal via open and honest communication with residents, and goals that are achievable and affordable. He also wants to strategize and plan accordingly by incorporating projects into the annual budget, and review goals and check progress regularly, making adjustments when necessary.
Sugar Grove Township supervisor candidate Curt Karas has worked the past 20 years as a business and tax consultant for small- to medium-sized companies—the past 10 in investment advisory services.
Karas holds a MBA from Northern Illinois University, earned his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business and marketing from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisc. In terms of community involvement, Karas has coached youth baseball for six years and football for five years, and has served as a Cub Scout leader for four years.
Karas believes the role of township supervisor is meant to efficiently and effectively manage the operations of the township, improve and maintain internal controls over township assets, provide the current level of services delegated to the township, and investigate alternatives for the future needs of township taxpayers.
“I would like to be more involved in the community,” Karas said. “For the past 20 years I concentrated on raising my two sons. I enjoy helping people and businesses become successful. I believe my experience with private sector business can be just as useful in the public sector.”
Karas believes he is an ideal candidate for the supervisor position because he has interest in the functions of the township, and is “enlightened with the opportunity of meeting township management.”
“With the knowledge gained from their experiences and from my education and business background, I believe I can be a successful township supervisor,” he said.
If elected, Karas’ top priorities for the township would include development of an accounting system that accurately represents each township department’s monthly operations, assets and liabilities. He also wants to provide township trustees with in-depth information on monthly operations and allow them to make cost-effective decisions.
“The accounting system would also allow each department to create more accurate budgets,” Karas said. “These budgets will be used to identify overlapping expenses, which could be corrected, reducing property taxes.”
Sugar Grove Township trustee Scott Jesseman will look to make the jump to the role of township supervisor on April 9.
The owner of Prairie Fence and Landscape Co., Jesseman holds a degree in business management from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He has served on two drainage districts in Sugar Grove, and has also volunteered his time to many area groups and causes over the past 20 years.
“My contributions range from loaning equipment for projects to donating materials—and a lot of personal hours—to better our community,” he said. “I seek to add wherever and whenever I am able.”
Jesseman said he wants to get the township’s accounting in order and make the process transparent and fiscally responsible.
“I plan to reduce the levy for the township,” he said. “Currently there is a large surplus, and we need not tax people more to increase a surplus.”
Jesseman believes he is an ideal candidate for the supervisor position because he can “unify the bodies of local government to optimize services for residents.”
“A strong board, participation by all members and input from residents to build consensus will achieve these goals,” he said.
According to Jesseman, the supervisor role is one component of the township democracy, and leadership to uphold our principles and values is crucial to good management of the township.
“The township consists of a supervisor and a board, and a vote needs to occur before action and expenditures.”
Township supervisor candidate Harry Davis did not reply back to the Elburn Herald’s election questionnaire.