Mark Sloane - Candidate for 6th Ward - Text of Speech to CSNA

Mark Sloane for 6th Ward Alderman – CSNA 12/10/08

Thank you fellow members of the Central Street Neighbors Association.

For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Mark Sloane and I am a candidate for 6th Ward Alderman.

Over the last month, in knocking on 150-200 doors, neighbors ask me why I am running for Alderman. Some even suggest why would anyone want to run. I was raised by my parents that community service is your responsibility as a productive member of society. My father was President of his Police Officers Association, my mother volunteered two days a week at our elementary school library and I was elected student body President in High School, Student Senator in College and was the youngest appointed Commissioner in my home town. Service to Community is in the blood. One of the reasons we chose to move to Evanston was its strong community supported city.

The question to me is not why I am running, but how I can impact our community. Focus on Finance is a theme I will continue to use throughout the Campaign. If we focus on our Fiscal Responsibility, we will prioritize our spending, levy and tax only the amount necessary and maximize our impact on the quality of life here in Evanston. We need to take a hard, detailed look at our budget, and use zero based budgeting methodology to prioritize and long range plan our city’s future.

In my professional career, I am a Chief Financial Officer and have held this title with companies over the last fifteen years. These companies have been mid-sized and have seen there ups and downs. I’ve seen the ups of pay raises, bonuses and hiring as well as the downs of layoffs and pay and budget cuts. I can, have and do make tough financial decisions daily.

We, as a community, and as a nation, are in turbulent economic times, and the City of Evanston will continue to face challenging financial decisions. It’s time that our City Council has an experienced financial executive as a member. One that can not only ask questions, but as the Blue Ribbon Committee specifically stated, one that can ask the “right” questions to city staff. We would not have an unfunded pension obligation of $145 million dollars if “smarter” questions would have been asked by the city council.

Let’s face it; we are living in a time of limited financial resources for the city. Limited resources mean prioritizing our spending. We must spend our funds prudently and obtain the most value from that which is spent. We cannot duplicate what Washington, Springfield or Cook County is doing and we must spend our money to maximize the Quality of Life here in our community. Pet projects and projects that impact very few members of the community but that are politically correct can not be afforded. I will be a strong Alderman that can find these items, stand up and convince the other Council members that these types of projects are not acceptable and have them removed from the budget.

I also believe the city needs to refocus its attention on Recreation. Over the almost seven years since I have been on the Playground and Recreation Board, substantial capital improvements have incurred, including the opening of the Levy Senior Center, fine tuning of our “jewel” – James Park, and the rehab of Lovelace and Bent Parks as well as the reconstruction of the Tennis Courts at Ackerman Park, all here in the 6th Ward. This has occurred though, at the same time the recreation budget has annually been cut.

Recreation continues to be a high demand area in this community. I believe from a Bang for your Buck evaluation, Recreation provides the best return on money spent, outside of maybe Life Safety.

The rebuilding and expansion of the Robert Crown Center is a topic I have advocated for consistently over the past 5 years. The current Center is falling apart, lacks fundamental necessities and has such high demand that the center turns away many. As a community we must get behind building a new center with two full sheets of Ice, enough locker rooms so that girls don’t have to change in the bathroom and work-out/dance studios so figure skaters can practice their routines off the ice in a safe environment. In addition we need expanded space for a growing day care center, a home for our Special Needs Recreation Division and community meeting rooms to allow the surrounding community a place to meet. We can build this through a Public/Private Partnership. There is private money available. The city just needs to make it a priority. If elected, it will be one of my top priorities.

Additional cost effective improvements in recreation for the city have come recently with new cooperation between the City and District 202. We are currently working with the District to jointly build a new Field house on campus, whereby the City will use the facility in the evenings and weekends when not in use by the school. We envision indoor soccer and indoor lacrosse, among others, using the facility instead of traveling many miles and spending substantial dollars outside our community. Also with the many indoor gyms available at the high school, utilizing this space will help in the ongoing growth of the FAAM basketball program.

My ultimate hope is that the City can use this Partnership with District 202 as a model and strengthen our agreement with District 65 and maybe even approach Northwestern to open its facilities to the community.

The next four years will be a challenge for the City. We need to start by getting our Financial House in order.

I am an advocate of controlled, responsible growth and believe we need to use common sense to drive our decisions. There will be many issues to address and I look forward to the ongoing dialogue.

I am excited about the opportunity to serve and to serve as your next 6th Ward Alderman.

Thank You Very Much.

Interested in lending your name in support, or even joining the Campaign Committee? Contact Mark at

Mark - it has been nice to meet you and thank you for running.

I have been involved with watching the city and school district play politics here for years. We do not need to spend money on building a new Robert Crown Center.

How much would a new center cost us taxpayers - 30 million dollars? Mark the city is struggling to provide basic maintenance for its facilities. The reason Robert Crown is falling apart as you put it is they do not maintain it. The city also put together a list of basic repairs that were needed, have they happen? Since you are on the rec board you might know. As I recall it involved the parking lot flooding and problems with the ice making equipment.

The politics of those wanting a new center is interesting - As I stated for several years they were claiming Robert Crown had structural problems - ( basically a lie ) when I ask about it at council it - they were quick to claim - no problems since they can not shut it down. Now it appears the city and others are claiming a new problem not enough locker space for women. I am certain this problem can be corrected if it is even a problem - for under 1/2 million dollars versus spending 30 million.

I also do not favor - building a new track facility with the high school. Remember we our taxpayers for both districts so how does this help us? Also I would like to know what is the problem in the existing facility?

I find it hard to believe we have such a high demand for recreation given the decreasing school population.
Also - I believe you are have a young family - take a look at school enrollment here. Years ago - I pointed out to district 65 - they were losing enrollment of high achieving students ( 10 years ago ) - when I ran for school board - (interesting someone I ran against who won - not so long ago told me I was right about the decreasing enrollment) Go take a look at the currrent numbers district 65 has lost over 600 students since 2004 - two whole small elementary schools - and now the geniuses on the board are talking about redistrict Willard School ( is your family in the Willard District? ) They can not leave well enough alone. So now we will lose more good families. ( if they are redistricting Willard - people in the 6th ward will be more concerned about that than the 6th ward race )

Bottom line - we don't need more spending - we need more wise spending the city does not have 50 million for a new track and field house or Robert Crown - the council collective does not know what it is it doing in regards to facilities - they mostly play politics.

By the way I heard Jeff Smith make a statement about firehouses and their need - the council has spend - millions to rebuild them all over town, with little real discussion about fire deliever, - this is their mode of operation. They have nothing to provide to the real discussion of issues.

You are correct - zero budgeting is nice - but the last time they committed to this - years ago - it went no were. Since they all wanted to protect something.

Finally they are projecting a 13% tax increase for the next budget - interestingly the first budget hearing is in Febraury - it shows you the council collectively does not care -about increasing taxes - they will make no effort to cut anything - a 13% tax increase on people in these times is pure nonsense.