Name: Michael Stanard
Town: Woodstock, Illinois
Office sought: Woodstock City Council
1) What skills, qualities or experience do you possess that separate you from your opponents?
Having been successful in business since 1978, with experience in a wide range of businesses, of all sizes and types, my entrepreneurial experience, creativity and imagination will make a positive contribution.
I have traveled and conducted business throughout Europe and Asia as well as South America. I see the world from a broad perspective. Our business success has been a result of listening to clients and delivering the "specific measurable results” they expect and deserve. If elected, I will apply these skills as a City Council member.
My credentials include: Nationally known design professional – Designer of the world-famous Louisville Slugger Trademark, Former Greenwood Village President, Former instructor School of Art institute of Chicago, NIU Advisory Council, instrument-rated multi-engine private pilot, creator of the Woodstock Mural Project. Promoter of many major-act outdoor and Opera House music concerts, self-expressed and candid. Dedicated to Woodstock.
In summary, I have been providing livelihoods for my employees and their families for many years. I know what it takes to run a business and how to produce results.
2) What can the City of Woodstock do and what should it do to ease the property tax burden on homeowners?
First and foremost, it is critically important that the Mayor and City Council members recognize and accept, without reservation, the fact that many, if not most, of the citizens of Woodstock are angry and frustrated about the punishing taxes they are forced to pay. The effect is debilitating and hurts us and our community on every level. How can we realistically expect to attract businesses and new homeowners under these conditions?
There needs to be a permanent - stubborn and uncompromising refusal- on the part of the City’s leadership to refuse increased taxes, under any conditions. And, follow up by reducing costs at every possible opportunity.
The proposed 10% reduction in the City’s portion of our real estate tax burden, while perhaps all that can realistically be accomplished now, will amount only to a hill of beans. For example, our family may save $140.00, more or less. Many citizens will save far less. The truth is, it will make no real difference for any of us.
3) How would you describe the climate in Woodstock's city government for businesses? What needs improvement? What's working?
Given the number of major employers who have left town, the answer is self-evident. The business climate in Woodstock is poor. Regrettably, I can point to nothing of significance that is “ working”.
Regarding the attraction of manufacturing, hospitality, industry and retail enterprises, all critical to our tax base, the City is ineffective.
The current “ Venus Fly Trap" approach does not, and will not, produce the result. In spite of hefty salaries for economic development staff, the job is not getting done. Aggressive action is needed, including setting appointments and making compelling in-person presentations to potential business owners and corporate decision makers. Many firms, who never think of us, are likely to find Woodstock attractive. We need to focus on introducing ourselves and tout the benefits of our town.
Making introductions and cold-calling requires hard, gritty, work and salesmanship which is now lacking. The City Council should demand "specific measurable results” from staff charged with economic development. If the folks with the responsibility for development can not do the job, they should be replaced. “ If you are not fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm!. . . Vince Lombardi
4) What will be the biggest challenge that Woodstock residents and their village government will face over the next four years and how will you meet it?
We have serious issues funding our schools and are in a Catch -22 position that only time will heal. The City and District 200 must, and most certainly will, work together to sort things out for the best possible result. Further, the City must avoid additional taxation, under any circumstances, and act in miserly ways if need be.
During the next four years the City Council must be comprised of informed, experienced, capable and savvy leaders. That is, people with authentic business experience and the ability, as a team, to manage a multimillion dollar organization. We need more business people who sign the front of paychecks, as distinct from the back. Woodstock must to be run like a business.
None of us know what will transpire during the next four years. However, I trust that a group of informed, thoughtful, talented and aligned City Council members will successfully meet each challenge and opportunity that presents itself. I am optimistic about the future of Woodstock
5) Should the City of Woodstock maintain ownership of the old courthouse? Why or why not?
We are in deep the pool, with little choice other than to keep swimming. Let’s embrace the building under long-term city ownership and shift the “context’ of the building from being a “problem” to one of it being an “opportunity”.
We have time to do it right and spread the expense over time, ten years or more, if necessary. "Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten."
Five years of costly surveys have produced nothing. Folks should realize that we acquired the property for virtually nothing, since the City was reimbursed for the cost of cleaning up the related initial financial entanglements. In effect, we got the building for free.
Yes, the City has invested about 2 million to-date. However, since no pragmatic potential tenet or buyer will ever invest for a proper build-out, the City has no option other than continue to improve the property, slowly but surely. If we create a“ context of opportunity”, we will end up with a stunning Community Center. It will be magnificent .
Consider the Village of Carol Stream is spending $18 million, merely to remodel their City Hall. By contrast, our Historic Courthouse will be a bargain.
6) What do you expect to change about Woodstock by the end of your term?
I have no idea what future holds.