Full Name: Matt Rodgers
Political Party: Independent / non-partisan
Office sought: Commissioner on the Board of the St. Charles Park District
Profession, employer: Assistant State’s Attorney, Office of the Kane County State’s Attorney
Contact information: MattSRodgers@outlook.com
Website: Facebook Candidate page: Matt Rodgers for St. Charles Park District
Education: I received a bachelor’s degree in Economics from DePaul University in 2007 and a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2010.
Community involvement: through my work as an assistant state’s attorney in Kane County I’ve presented to senior citizen groups on avoiding financial scams; I also serve on the Kane County Fatality Review Team.
Marital status/immediate family (spouse and number of children): Married; 2 kids
Why are you running for office?
As a prosecutor I’m committed to public service and I love St. Charles and the Park District. There are many things the Park District does well and some things that could be improved. I’m in my late 30s with two young kids, and currently there is no one like that on the Board. That’s a missing perspective and I believe my experience and feedback from other residents would be an asset to the Board and the community.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
I’ve been a prosecutor for almost 12 years so I have a good sense of how local government affects community and how various government entities interact to serve residents. But what really qualifies me is my experience as a resident, father, and frequent park district user. Spending time with other residents and listening to what they have to say is something I do on a daily basis.
What does your park district do well?
The St. Charles Park District has beautiful parks and facilities, and the Director and her staff do a great job. My family loves spending time at Mt. St. Mary’s Park, Swanson Pool, Norris Recreation Center, and we are very thankful for all the park district has to offer. I also commend the recreation department for their constant innovation.
Are all constituents adequately served by the park district?
Two ideas in this regard:
1) Over the years I’ve supported Special Olympics Illinois and would push for a partnership with the Park District. The Park District can provide a platform to the athletes of Special Olympics. A triathlon event at Norris Center, for example, would be exciting!
2) I would like to see the Park District provide more affordable spaces for artists and musicians. Whether it’s a small group setting or venue for medium sized concerts, that’s something that would benefit the community as a whole.
What would you like to see improved or changed?
There are some specific things: more swimming lessons offered during the spring/winter/fall because supply is not meeting demand; more attention and maintenance directed at dog parks.
Big picture, I think there should be more interaction between the Board and residents. Direct feedback is the best feedback.
Are voters that support your district taxed at an appropriate level?
In talking to residents, most acknowledge and appreciate the utility the Park District provides. Many of the major Park District facilities (Otter Cover, for example) are revenue positive and actually bring in money for the Park District. I do think it’s a core responsibility of the Board to scrutinize spending and think creatively to minimize the tax burden on residents.
Would you support any plans to ask for a referendum proposition that would raise taxes in the district? If so, what should the additional revenue be spent on?
I think the Park District is sufficiently funded and would not support any tax increases at this time.
Would you support lowering taxes in the district? If so, what programs or services in the district would you cut?
I think it’s a balancing act between minimizing the tax burden while maximizing utility. My goal would be to prevent any tax increases.
What lessons should park district officials have learned from the pandemic?
I think one of the main lessons we’ve learned is how much people love parks and recreation centers! Our beautiful parks and green spaces helped sustain a lot of people through some pretty rough times. And I think the membership growth at Norris Rec Center in the last two years speaks to the value residents get from the sense of community there. There are obvious safety lessons as well - something that should always be a priority for the Park District.
What is your position on open, transparent government?
I strongly support open, transparent government. Ultimately the government exists to serve the people, not vice versa. Of course there are reasonable limitations at times because innovation often requires a level of privacy.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
I do support the Freedom of Information Act. It’s not perfect and I’ve seen it used in ways that I would consider harassing or fishing expeditions. But those instances are the exceptions. Overall, the goal of government transparency and accountability to citizens is a worthy one.