Below are candidate-submitted answers to a survey Forest Park Review sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
- Superintendent of Special Facilities | Wheaton Park District | 2009-present
In my current role I manage the administrative planning, organization, direction, and supervision of facilities operated by the park district including: two outdoor aquatic facilities, fitness center, county historical museum, a five-acre zoo, and ten sustainable large scale community special events. I am responsible for a government agency division budget of over 3 million dollars. In addition to my daily responsibilities, I have spent the last six years of my career leading, coordinating, and executing the agency’s strategic and master plan.
Years Lived in Forest Park: 37 years, born and raised
Spouse / Children / Family:
Married to Samantha (Makin) Novak (10 years in May), and we have 3 Young Children that are enrolled in Forest Park School District 91: Storey Hannah (7), Nolan David (5), Cooper Daniel (4). Son of David (Retired Executive Director of the Park District of Forest Park) and Carol Novak. Brother of Nic (Forest Park Little League President) and sister in-law to Jen Gales Novak (Forest Park School District 91, Teacher).
Have you ever served for a local political office before? If so, when & which office:
Although I have never served for a political office, I have been involved with many organizations and non-profits in the past. As a committee member, I have worked alongside Board of Directors, Commissioners, and Citizens to take action, raise awareness, and establish funding.
- Forest Park Little League
- Forest Park North Side Parent Teacher Council
Outside of Forest Park
- Wheaton Chamber of Commerce, Taste of Wheaton Committee | 6 years
- Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA of DuPage), Wheaton Brew Fest Committee | 5 years
- Wheaton Lions Club, Lions Club Reindeer Run Committee | 3 years
- Downtown Wheaton Association, Wine & Cultural Arts Festival | 3 years
- Rotary Club of Central DuPage AM, Fun Run in Color Committee | 2 years
- FT Cares Foundation, Light the Torch Night Run Committee | 2 years
- Wheaton College Arena Theater, Shakespeare in the Park | 2 years
- Wheaton Park District | 15 years
- Bill George Youth Football League (Wheaton Rams Football & Cheerleading) | 9 years
- Cosley Zoo Foundation | 6 years
- DuPage County Historical Museum Foundation | 5 years
If you are not currently on the village board, how many village board meetings have you attended in the last year:
I will have attended 5 village meetings prior to the April 7th election; however I have been reviewing the meeting minutes doing my best to stay informed. One of the reasons I am running for this office is because of the many citizens who have approached me about the dynamics of our current Village Council, which they have expressed as uninviting as well as unengaging to the Forest Park resident. If elected, I hope to change that by engaging our residents, making them feel comfortable and welcome so that we can ensure their satisfaction.
Why are you running for office:
I am a lifelong resident of Forest Park instilled with the value of community service. I have chosen to run for office to make a difference in the village that has raised me. My professional success combined with my deep personal ties to Forest Park will allow me the opportunity to produce, provide, and positively impact our village. My goal is to be the voice of the people, taking a positive approach to our Village Government. Many residents are tired of controversy, I seek to be their Independent Choice for commissioner who will listen and represent their thoughts and ideas. Like all candidates, I want to make a difference in our village. Our government should represent all the citizens, listen to their ideas, engage and welcome them. I have no agenda, no forced loyalties to members of the slate but strong loyalties to our village and its success and growth. My family has always been involved and dedicated to our community. I am continuing that history and want to take my place as a leader and role model within our village and for the people.
What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing the village in the next four years?
The biggest challenges we will face as a village are the need to engage residents and business owners to build their trust, the need for an actionable and operationally funded strategic plan, and the need to develop the community relationship of elected officials for the future of High School District 209.
- Engage Residents & Business Owners to Build Trust: There is a current stigma that many residents and business owners do not feel as though their ideas are always heard or taken seriously. I plan to have an open door policy, and be accessible to our community. To be a successful leader you need to be open minded, think outside the box, rather than the way things have “always been done”. I encourage discussions and the sharing of ideas so that we can build community trust to make our village the best it can be.
- Actionable & Operationally Funded Strategic Plan: While the village does have a comprehensive plan, we need a strategic plan that will address the issues of the residents and business owners. We need a living document that we can work from, with a team behind it so it can give our village both strategic direction and strategic objectives and focus on implementation. Our plan needs to focus on open space, development, service, and facility use as well as consider operational and capital funding.
- The Future of High School District 209:Using our position to influence other leaders and decision makers, I would like to charge our Village Council to bring together and build communication with the elected officials from both the towns and school district boards that comprise District 209. We should be able to provide a viable high school education opportunity to the children of Forest Park, a high school that our tax dollars already support yet is not where a majority of our high school aged residents are enrolled.
What skill / talents do you have that would enable you to deal with those challenges:
My values, of integrity, commitment, service, dependability, kindness, and my willingness to be approachable and adaptable; will guide my career as a Village Commissioner. As a successful leader, I know that working in a positive manner and always keeping the best interest of the community in mind when making difficult decisions is instrumental. Finally, my experience of fifteen years in public service allowed me the opportunity to manage, produce, provide, and positively impact others and the community in which I work. I enjoy making a difference and serving others, and I look forward to the positive impact I can provide my hometown of Forest Park.
If elected, what are three goals that you have for the next four years?
The three goals I have for the next four years are to remain true to my campaign to be the Independent Choice, to engage and invest in our residents and business owners, and to always seek ways to enhance Forest Park.
- Remain Your Independent Choice: I promise to maintain my independent values and keep the best interest of Forest Park as the top priority. Some people have said I came into the race, “late to the game” (Please note, my petitions were filed on the first day of eligibility along with four other commissioner candidates). I listened to residents and business owners who expressed concern with their local government and with encouragement from neighbors, friends, and family felt inspired to give people the opportunity to elect and Independent Choice and new voice. I am committed to represent the people of Forest Park and I can assure you I am driven to succeed in this election. If elected, my number one priority is to remain true to being the peoples’ Independent Choice. I know that if the people feel that change is needed I can provide it and I plan to be committed to being this person for Forest Park.
- Engage and Invest in our Residents and Business Owners: Encourage more community involvement with our citizens, fostering a positive community spirit. Forest Park should aim to be a village where residents of all ages and business owners are engaged and satisfied. Just as I was once a young resident of Forest Park, 37 years later I want to make sure we are engaging residents of all ages. Hopefully many of the children in our little league, schools, and programs today will be in my shoes someday, raising their families here. We need to make sure all of our residents are satisfied so we can continue to develop the community we have all come to know and love.
- Seek Ways to Enhance our Community: We need to be an efficient and effective place of public service and business to ensure excellence for our residents and business owners. We need to always aim toward a professionally developed and value driven commission. Our Village Commissioners need to be accessible, accountable, and transparent to our community members and constituents. In a governmental agency (especially in today’s world) we need to apply best business practices, make sustainable decisions to pave the way for the future of our community.
If you are running as part of a slate of candidates, why? If not, why not?
I am not affiliated with a slate. I have chosen to run as the Independent Choice. In the past few months I have had the opportunity to talk with many residents and they cannot recall ever seeing a full slate (mayor and four commissioners) running in a non-partisan election. A slate by nature lumps people into a group and requires obligation and allegiance from its members. You cannot be “independent” and part of a slate; it just does not work that way. I am giving the people an opportunity to elect an approachable independent choice and new voice. I have made a commitment to serve my village, and if elected, plan to represent the community (residents and business owners). I can assure you I am driven to success in this election so that I can be that voice on our Forest Park Village Council.