21 Aug 2014
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Oak Lawn Mayor: David Heilmann

Incumbent Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann is seeking a third term in office, along with a slate of newcomers,

Oak Lawn Mayor: David Heilmann

Name: Dave Heilmann

Position sought: Mayor

Campaign contact information:

  • Campaign office address: 9632 S. Cicero

Personal Information:

  • Age: 50
  • Family: Erica (wife), Natalie, Joey, Mikey and Brooke
  • Time living in Oak Lawn: Lifelong
  • Education: University of lllinois B.S Broadcast Journalism; JD DePaul Univ. College of  Law
  • Occupation: Attorney
  • Political party affiliation, if any: Non-partisan election
  • Previous elected offices (if applicable): Oak Lawn Park Board; Worth Twsp. Highway Commissioner
  • Applicable experience qualifying you for the position: 23 years of service to Village of  Oak Lawn including 8 years as Mayor

Candidate Questions:

Use as much space as you need.

1. What is the primary reason you are running for this office?

Many people worked very hard to give me a great community in which to be raised.  Whether it was my parents, people in government, the local businesses that gave me part time jobs, parents who coached me, or the teachers who taught me, they all gave an incredible amount of time to the many children being raised in what was a fast growing community.

Many of those people are seniors who still live here. I want them to be taken care of and be safe. I want them to know that the stable and strong community they gave me and my family will remain just that, if not become even stronger.

I now am raising my children here with my wife Erica. I want to give them and the other children now being raised here an even better community than I was given. I am never satisfied because I know we can always do better. I think we should never stop raising the bar, constantly challenge ourselves, and always strive to make Oak Lawn the best place anywhere to raise a family.

2. Why do you deserve to be elected/reelected? What sets you apart from the other candidate(s)?

I have lived here 50 years, my entire life.   I know Oak Lawn as a child growing up here, as father of four children being raised here, and a son whose mother has been here 57 years and is a senior. Right there is a big difference between my opponent and me.  Raising my children here is important because any parent will tell you that those life experiences are invaluable in providing insight into the needs of families in Oak Lawn.

I have worked nearly half my life trying to better the community.   I have worked with municipal budgets, tax levies, and listening to the concerns of residents for 23 years.  I served 13 years on the Oak Lawn Park District Board and am proud of the developments we were able to bring such as Stony Creek Golf Course, the Clubhouse, and the Wolfe Wildlife Wetlands. I am proud that we started an Oak Lawn theatre program which has served thousands of people in Oak Lawn and taught invaluable lessons to hundreds of children in gaining confidence, learning how to speak in public, and how to work with other children from all over Oak Lawn.

I think it's great that Sandra Bury has given time to those less fortunate who need eye care.  We need professionals to do that and I'm glad she does.

I do think, however, that before you ask the residents of Oak Lawn to make you the leader of one of the larger municipalities in Illinois that you should have experience and a plan for our future. My opponent has not served on the Village Board, Library Board, Park Board, School Board, or any Village Committee.  She has no experience.

She has no plan for our future. She has run for ten months saying "Dave is bad...". It's not about me. It's about Oak Lawn and the 57,000 lives to which the mayor has a responsibility. That responsibility is to listen, to put forward ideas, and to do everything you can to move a community forward.

3. What are the three issues in the village that you feel need to be addressed right away? Why are these issues important?

Safety: Nothing is more important than the safety of our families

When multiple armed robberies occurred this past fall, I initiated neighborhood safety meetings that continue to take place throughout Oak Lawn. Everything begins with this because the safety of a community is directly related to its overall social and economic health.

If residents do not feel their town is safe they will choose to move.  Home buyers and businesses do not invest in unsafe communities. Deterioration of a residential or business base often coincides with increased crime and a further weakening of a community. That cannot be allowed to happen.   Studies show that safety does not begin and end with law enforcement. A community wide partnership working with law enforcement, park districts and schools, and local businesses can make a community safer and more stable.

I am working with dozens of Oak Lawn residents who have signed up to participate in the preparation of a comprehensive plan addressing every element of safety that can impact our lives, from serious crimes and gangs to internet scams preying on seniors, from broad tactical discussions with enforcement personnel to how neighborhoods are policed, from neighborhood lighting to security cameras and safety in our schools. Oak Lawn sits next to a major city and our efforts should be to develop a safety plan that can serve as a model for any suburb similarly situation.

All of us aware of cities and neighborhoods that were once safe, but now are not. That cannot be allowed to happen here in Oak Lawn.

Development: We cannot be in a "wait and see" posture. We need to be proactive with new ideas.

In the Spring of 2005, during the Oak Lawn Mayoral debate, I raised the idea of creating a TIF to support a complete redevelopment of 111th and Cicero.  After the election, I asked our Board to pursue this and it passed on a 4-3 vote. While the economy forced this to take longer than we had hoped, the new Mariano's Fresh Market and planned restaurants along a water feature on that site will generate millions in new sales tax revenues and hundreds of jobs in Oak Lawn.  

I believe we have to be proactive with development, but it should be done under a comprehensive plan after collaboration and neighborhood input. When I brought up developing 111th in 2005 some felt we were too aggressive. I've lived here 50 years and I do not believe that we can afford to be in a "wait and see" or "maintenance only" posture. We should make it known to families here and those choosing where to live that we are going to keep taking measures to better the community and ensure its long term stability.

I have tried to put ideas out for new development and improvements. I welcome better suggestions and other ideas from Board members. But when Board members sit back and criticize, delay, or take shots at ideas instead of coming up with better ones, they obstruct progress and should be replaced with people who are at least willing to offer ideas and listen to others.  

Taxes: A strong commercial base lessens the burden on residential homeowners

The expansion of our commercial tax base provides revenue that lessens the potential burden on homeowners. The development at 111th and Cicero will add millions to the Village’s tax base.  Efforts such as those which attracted Corner Bakery, Francesca's on 95th, and other successful businesses will allow Oak Lawn to avoid increasing property taxes.

In addition, as the economy begins recovering, Oak Lawn must put in place a five-year financial plan incorporating those expenses which we are anticipating and planning for in order to be a leading community from our infrastructure to our quality of life.  

4. Give one example of how you would work with an adversarial village board?

At the height of tensions in 2010 I decided that our board should get together monthly, discuss our goals and ideas, and work together. The meetings would not be televised but rather informal sessions to discuss ideas and goals

We had three of these and three board members failed to show up each time. I will never forget the one meeting.  I set it up to follow a meeting we were having on gaming. I felt that if the whole board was there we could proceed right to the Roundtable Meeting. The gaming meeting ended and three trustees got up and walked out of the room, refusing to participate in the roundtable meeting. You can ask people to work together, but you cannot force them. Either way, you keep trying.

5. Should Advocate Christ Medical Center be required to pay impact fees and permit fees for future expansion? Why or why not?

Let me begin with a general statement. If the hospital, through expansion or operations, causes a burden on the Village staff or infrastructure, we should advise the hospital and they will compensate the village for that because taxpayers cannot legally be asked to bear the burden of any private organization. The hospital has also stated many times that they share in that belief.

As for permit fees, many years ago the Village of Oak Lawn passed an ordinance which provided the hospital an exemption from building permit fees.  For example, the Hope Children's Hospital was built without the payment of building permit fees.

The issue of an impact fee was raised because of this exemption for building permit fees. The ordinance has now been changed and the exemption is no longer applicable.
What took place in Oak Lawn over the past year was an interesting political dispute. Certain board members insisted that we have an impact fee which would've been a one time payment to the village. I asked the hospital if it would consider working on a development with the village which would have resulted in a higher financial contribution, and possibly an ongoing commitment to the community from the hospital, and which would have benefited residents for years to come. 

I favor expansion because I want the best medical care close to our home.  When your health or that of a loved one is threatened everything else in the world stops. I want a first class medical facility just as I want every organization and business here to be the best.  This is the largest employer of the village. They are saving lives every day.  I want to protect our community and make sure that we are financially stable, but attacking the hospital as some have done is not the right approach. You work with them to make sure that any financial detriment they cause is paid to the village but also work as professionals with them, respecting their mission, to see what we can give our community by being a partner with the hospital versus an adversary.

6. Should there be a cap on video gaming licenses granted to new businesses coming to Oak Lawn? Why or why not?

Yes. Absolutely. 

The Village Board voted unanimously to approve the video gaming. Now the very people who voted to approve this are trying to make it a political issue by saying that certain board members want to expand gambling. If board members don't want the gaming, then vote to repeal it.  But I definitely believe this needs to be limited.

7. What do you like best about Oak Lawn?

The people.  


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