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Oswego Election 2015: Karin McCarthy-Lange, Candidate for Village Trustee

Mar 17, 2015 08:53AM ● Published by Steven Jack

Name: Karin McCarthy-Lange

Website: karin4oswego.com

Employment: Self-employed, sub in SD308

Family: Married for 20 years and two children in district SD308

Education: Bachelor's of Science from Illinois State University

Previously elected office: HOA president, Home and School VP and President

Relevant community service: Cultural Arts Commissioner, Member of the Chamber of Commerce, volunteer for various events and Churchill Elementary home and school committees, founder and administrator of the Fox Valley Adoption Group.

What makes you qualified to be a Village trustee? 

My work experience is two-fold – I have 16 years experience in both corporate America and 8+ years as an entrepreneur. Each of these experiences has given me a varied skill set to bring to the board. I have also experience as a public servant with volunteer activities and various boards to which I was elected or appointed. 

My strongest skills are communication and the ability to be a team player – both of these skills will allow me to work with other board members to create pro-active solutions for our issues. I am always accessible and volunteer regularly in the community - allowing me to meet and talk with our residents about what is important to them. 

Since announcing my candidacy in August, I have attended every committee of the whole and village board meeting. This has allowed me to understand the issues facing the board so if I am elected to the board, I am informed and can engage with members of the village staff. 

What do you believe is the role of a Village trustee?

The Village Board of Trustees must provide clean water, ensure public safety, maintain our roads, and create a healthy balance between resources and needs of the community. Beyond those things, the most important role of a trustee is to plan for the future of the village and execute that plan by approving decisions that follow the vision of the board. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

What should be the No. 1 priority for the next Village Board?

The number one priority should be economic development. We have gone too long with an unbalanced tax ratio that relies heavily on our residents. This means that approximately 80% of our tax base comes from our residents and only 20% from business and industry. My goal is to get us closer to 70/30 or even 60/40 so that our residents can see some relief in their tax bill. By not working with commercial and retail developers, we have grown in residents but stayed stagnant in business growth only replacing businesses that have left our community. We must have a business-friendly attitude to achieve this goal.

We should also keep in mind that the type of businesses we attract helps determine the make-up of our Village. We need a mix of retail, professional and other types of business to create a diverse, thriving community.

What is your vision for the old Alexander Lumber Co. lot and the parcel of land that includes the old Village Hall and the former Oswego Chamber office?

Those locations are prime areas of real estate for mixed-use buildings such as business/retail or residence/retail that will breathe new life to our downtown area. They are the largest areas of potential development in our downtown area and our best opportunity for growth there. 

What is your long-term vision for Main Street?

I would love to see many independently owned shops and restaurants in our downtown area. It would be fantastic to create a destination shopping/dining/entertainment district so that all of our residents could stay in the village instead of traveling out to our neighboring towns for a fun night out.

How can Oswego maintain the hometown feel while at same time encouraging development?

The best way to maintain the hometown feel is to bring the community together and develop our downtown to be the heart and soul of Oswego. By working together with our school district, park district, library district and non-profit organizations, we can encourage participation in local events and activities. 

How do you propose the village fund its long-term needs for infrastructure improvement?

I hate to sound like a broken record but the best plan for long term funding is economic development in our community. Our biggest income source is sales tax and, if we have desirable retail establishments, we will increase our revenues. The best part of this is not all those revenues come from our residents – they are shared with those individuals that are using our roads and resources. No one wants to raise taxes but I believe we must bring our sales tax up .5% to meet the surrounding communities as a sustainable source of income for our infrastructure. 

How can the village better use natural resources like the Fox River for its economic and cultural benefit?

Our downtown has a beautiful asset in the Fox River and we have direct access to it. I have attended several meetings for the update of the comprehensive plan and am thrilled at the idea of expanding our park area to include a possible band shell for cultural events. When people come for events in Oswego, they will stay and patronize our stores and our restaurants which is a win-win for business owners and the village.

I was also excited to find out from a local resident that one of the river islands has nesting eagles and would love to know how we can work with the park district to encourage their return to our area. Eagle watching is a wonderful experience for all ages! 

What role should economic incentives play in attracting new desirable businesses to Oswego?

As the recession ends and economic development begins to grow again, we MUST be competitive with our surrounding communities. We cannot afford to lose another large retailer like Sam’s Club. When new business is supporting goals of the village and developing village infrastructure or roadways, I think we should definitely consider it as an option.

How do you plan to work with fellow trustees to build consensus and arrive at decisions that benefit our entire community? If possible, please provide an example in your personal or professional life of building consensus in a group setting. 

The April 7th election will bring change to the board of trustees no matter who is elected. We have no incumbents on the ballot so we will have three new trustees. Every person elected represents those who voted for them and therefore should have a voice on the board. We do not need to agree on all topics but we do need to be respectful of each other’s opinion and take the time to listen. By listening to each other and asking questions, we will all have a better understanding of the issues. 

In my experience as a graphic designer for a company owned by United Airlines, I was a part of a creative team that would take a concept and execute it in different media to be used in sales conferences and events. Not only did we have to build consensus with the client for approval of the concept and identity but then the entire creative group needed to clearly communicate about each application for the event so we would have a cohesive look coming from our department. This took planning and organization from the entire team with input from all team members. I am proud to say not only did we create successful events but they were also awarding-winning events in our field.

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