Government Affiars Committee Candidate Questionnaire

CANDIDATE: Luke Harris

POSITION SOUGHT: Glen Carbon Trustee

Please provide us with some basic information. We already know your name and address. Please tell us about: a. Your family; b. How long you've lived in Glen Carbon; c. Your education; d. Your employment.
Married for 32 years to Amber (Micheletto). We have five children and eight grandchildren. Lived in Glen Carbon for 12 years. St. Louis University BSBA and MBA. Owner of Highland Recycling and Shredding for the past 4 years. Prior employed by AT&T, Anheuser Busch and Ralston Purina.

Why are you seeking this office?
I am seeking the Village Trustee office as a way to give back to the community in a public way. I feel the city needs business leaders to ensure growth in Glen Carbon is appropriate to preserve our heritage. I believe we need fiscal responsibility to keep taxes as low as possible and support our business community to attract appropriate business expansions.

What education, skills and experiences have prepared you to deal with the complex financial, technical and legal issues that regularly come before village board?
Obtaining my MBA has educated me in all areas of business and my financial leadership in volunteering has brought unique abilities to grow support with finite resources. However, being a business owner has truly trained me to be an expert in all aspects of business, employment and social concerns. Ownership is the best teacher in understanding the fine balance between profits, individuals and the environment. To be successful means to excel in all three areas and not neglect one area for the benefit of the other.

What, if anything, should the village of Glen Carbon do to retain, expand and attract ‘head of household’ jobs?
To retain, expand and attract Head of Household jobs, Glen Carbon must be business friendly. Small and medium businesses are the heart of any village and Glen Carbon must work to grow this range of business. Ensuring we have industrial and business districts that have room for growth and then market our advantages to potential companies is key to obtaining this growth. In addition, the Village must work with our current business base to ensure their stability and see if the Village can help with potential growth. Business growth builds Heads of Household jobs with not only employment but potentially home ownership growth.

Please identify and prioritize the three most important ‘large capital’ projects in the village of Glen Carbon. Please justify your prioritization. How do you propose to pay for these projects?
The Village needs to look at how to address the Old Troy Road issue as well as other residential concerns. The Village looks to the State for grants to make these upgrades but we might have to dip into our reserves to fix these on-going issues.

The water contract with the City of Edwardsville is due to start negotiations. There are many options the Village can take in obtaining water from going with competing water companies to looking at starting up our own water system by utilizing our older pump stations. I do not have details about these contracts but I do know from my water district experience that water companies have become very interested in growing their market share and providing competitive pricing.

The sewage treatment contract is third on my list, not because it is not important but because water is always a higher topic of discussion before sewage. Our current sewage treatment lines are not owned by the village on the way to the treatment facility. The Village needs to investigate if we need to own more of this system to see if we can save the citizens money in the long run.

What are your thoughts on village finances? Are there opportunities to cut expenses? Specifically, where are those opportunities? Is there a need for new or additional revenue? Specifically, where would it come from? Are there areas where spending needs to be increased? Specifically, where does spending need to increase? Specifically, where would the money come from?
Opportunities to cut expenses are always on the top of my list to gain financial strength. There are not large departments or segments of the budget that I would look for reduction however working with the Village leadership to optimize productivity and purchasing would be my priority.

Fortunately the Village doesn’t have a “need” for new or additional revenue because we are in very good financial shape. However, growing village revenue through business growth and sales tax revenue can help reduce the burden for property owners.

The area I would look to increase spending is in marketing the Village to obtain business growth. The Village needs to seek businesses that can utilize our new Enterprise Zone and I-55 Corridor. In addition, the Citizens Advisory Board had discussions on the imaging of the Village that could dovetail into this new imaging for the Village. The money for this budget item could come from budget savings (see 6a) or other underutilized budget areas but not new taxes.

What do you believe is the role of a village board member in the village administrator form of government?
I believe the role of a village trustee in the village administrator form of government is to combine the political and policy making leadership of the trustees and mayor with the managerial experience of appointed village managers. Village trustees should be leaders who listen to the community and respond by making policy that reflects the communities concerns and act in their best interests.

If you're the incumbent, what have been your significant accomplishments during your term? If you're the challenger, what do you believe have been the significant disappointments of the incumbents, and how would your term in office be different?

If elected, what would be your top three priorities?
If elected, my top three priorities would be:
1. Fiscal Responsibility to lessen the burden property tax burden on residents

2. Positive business growth while building a stronger bridge with our current business community

3. Pass “fracking” requirements for the village, currently there are no specific requirements for anyone wanting to do fracking. I want the village to be out front on this important issue and not be caught blindsided like they did with the marijuana issue. Issues that need to be discussed for possible zoning requirements are:
a. Ecological impact to water resources
b. Dewatering of water aquifers
c. Effects on roads due to transportation of water

At the end of your term in office, how will you know if you've been successful?
At the end of my term in office, I will know I’ve been successful if I have given the Village my time and talents to the best of my ability. There will be many challenges that are not foreseen and I want to be a village trustee that understands the issues, does the homework to find all possible outcomes and votes for the best interests of my neighbors, the citizens of Glen Carbon.

Are there any changes you would like to see regarding: How village board functions? How committees function? How departments function?
The only change I would like to see from the council, committees and departments is on the council level. I would like the Village Trustees and Mayor to be more open with the citizens on issues that affect them directly by send out notices to homes or email on key issues. All key decisions should be made by the Village Trustees and not be allocated to staff members of the Village. Open discussion is needed to understand the will of the citizens and they must be made aware of the issues facing the village.
Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce leadership know it is vital that chamber members exercise their right to vote. We also believe it is important that chamber members be informed voters, particularly when it comes to issues that directly affect the local business environment.

With that in mind, the chamber's government affairs committee (GAC) sent a questionnaire to candidates in both the Edwardsville and Glen Carbon spring 2015 municipal races.

CLICK HERE to download the letter and questionnaire that were sent to municipal candidates.

William Krause (Ward 5)
Art Risavy (Ward 7)
Janet Stack (Ward 3)
Barbara Jurgena-Stamer (Ward 1)

Ross Breckenridge
Douglas Dial
Luke Harris
Steven Slemer
Mary Ann Smith
Micah Summers