Northwest Herald Campaign Questionnaire
Name: Michael Stanard
Office sought: Woodstock City Council
Occupation: Marketing Communication, Branding & Design
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Northern Illinois University
Elected offices held: President, Village of Greenwood, Illinois
Website: www.UpYourStanard.com( Note: no “D” in center of Stanard )
1. What is your largest priority for Woodstock if elected?
My top priority will be to focus, aggressively, on bringing manufacturing and industrial companies to Woodstock. These companies employ large numbers of people and pay high wages. In addition, industrial and manufacturing companies will substantially increase our tax base. Learn more about our views on this topic by reading our white paper on the topic. Visit our web site: UpYourStanard.com
The first step in focusing Woodstock's marketing initiatives on attracting manufacturers is to tell the truth about the “Real' Woodstock” tourism campaign being a costly mistake, the well-intended efforts of the individuals involved notwithstanding. The campaign has failed to produce results of any merit, as evidenced by the fact that there are over a dozen empty storefronts on or near the Square and ... over 70 empty industrial buildings within the city limits.
Consider the following list partial list of businesses that are no longer on the Square: Simple Market, Dave’s Guitar Shop, Seasons By Peg, Cobblestone’s, The Green Box, Designs by Madia, Lloyd’s Paint (after 50 years), Pirro’s Restaurant, Pirro’s Gelato, Burseth Farms Soaps, Angelo’s Restaurant, Papa G’s, Sonshine Girls Boutique, Swiss Made Bakery ( after 50 +years ) Mia Passione, and the Centerville Station Cafe,among others, not to mention those who are currently "on the bubble” financially, and the loss of Bohns Hardware, after 90 years.
Few Woodstock residents realize that, to date, the City has spent an astonishing $791,667 on the “Real Woodstock” tourism campaign.
However well-intended, the nearly eight hundred thousand dollar expenditure of taxpayer's dollars has failed to produce any tangible results, aside from “likes” on FaceBook which are worth, essentially, nothing. That money could have paid for not one but two elevators for the Old Courthouse. That amount could have repaired substantial stretches our deteriorating roads. Or, it could have provided salaries for three or more additional police officers for many years.
In summary, as a member of the City Council, I will focus on sensible budgeting and effective methods for presenting Woodstock as a desirable location for manufacturing and industrial companies, as well as being an attractive place to live and raise a family.
2. What changes should Woodstock make in the future?
As with any community, improvements and refinements are ongoing and desirable. Woodstock is no exception. With that said, aside from the dismal condition of many of our streets and roads, our insufficient schools, concerns about the homeless in our community and, in spite of numerous ill-advised and wasteful expenditures, Woodstock remains a community that offers a unique quality of life. Our beautiful square that sets up apart from virtually any city in the Midwest.
Joeleen and I are both pleased and proud to call Woodstock our home. We base our business here and plan to live here during our retirement years, with yours truly probably ending up at Schneider Leucht Merwin & Cooney’s.
Essentially, Woodstock is a corporation with annual revenues of over 31 million dollars. In brief, our town is big business. The members of the city council are the equivalent of a corporate board of directors. Most are amateurs when it comes to business management. One change I would like to see is the development of a savvy, proactive, City Council exhibiting a desirable level of creativity, imagination, and taste, in support of the work they do and the decisions they make on behalf of the residents of Woodstock.
Lastly, although seemingly unimportant to some, I would like to see smoking prohibited on the square, including in the park, on our historic brick streets and along the square’s perimeter sidewalks. ( Where, according to Illinois law, smoking is already prohibited but not enforced.)
If one takes time to notice, the square and surrounding streets and sidewalks are littered with thousands of cigarette butts. I find this thoughtless littering, distasteful and would like to see smoking on the square entirely eliminated.
Further, I recommend that the Health Department, currently responsible for enforcing the smoking laws - but not doing so, transfer authority to the Woodstock Police Department, enabling our patrol officers to issue tickets as a method of preserving the beauty of our square.
Smoking is not allowed on the grounds of any state park, virtually all city parks, every forest preserve, hospital, elementary school, middle school, high school, college or university, as well as many other outdoor environments.
It’s time to ban smoking on our square.
3. How do you feel about Woodstock’s video gambling?
Like many individuals, I consider gambling an undesirable regressive tax. By definition, taxes are considered regressive when they impose a harsher burden on the poor than the rich. In less affluent and poor families, a larger proportion of their income pays for shelter, food and transportation. Any tax decreases their ability to afford these basics. In that respect, I consider gambling harmful.
Practically speaking, however, the horse is out of the barn when it comes to video gaming here in Woodstock. The city is in it for the money, the moral issues notwithstanding. In the interest of candor, I must say that several of my personal friends and business associates operate video parlors in Woodstock, and in other locations. I am not inclined to take a stance against the gaming parlors currently operating in Woodstock. By contrast, however, I do not favor additional gaming parlors in Woodstock.
Further, several of the operators of current video gaming parlors have suggested that the fees the city charges for each machine are far too low. I am in agreement with that point-of-view.
4. How do you feel about Woodstock's TIF district?
Had I been a member of the City Council at the time of the vote, I would have not supported the creation of the second TIF. The issues surrounding the establishment and function of TIF districts are extremely complex and are not fully understood by most citizens including, I suggest, some members of our City Council who voted in favor of creating the district.
Moreover, the vote should have been postponed until after the April 2 election when three new council members will be seated and would possibly have voted otherwise. In the words of public intellectual Thomas Sowell, a member of Sanford University’s Hoover Institute ... “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”
In brief, those City Council members, along with the mayor, who supported the TIF will be long gone as the TIF District continues for the next 23 years. If history repeats itself, taxpayers in Woodstock will be left holding the bag.
As a practical matter, the residents of Woodstock will not benefit from the TIF. In fact, it is more than likely that taxes will increase to cover the income shortfall resulting from the tax dollars siphoned from the properties within the TIF District.
By contrast, some individuals and organizations will benefit from the TIF. They include the developers who will be given land outright or at steep discounts, the architects who will design structures, the engineering and construction firms who will design and install the infrastructure, the real estate community who will earn sales commissions, the lawyers who will charge fees for representing the architects, engineers, construction companies and developers, and ... the banks who will profit by financing the whole shebang.
For you and I, the citizens and taxpayers of Woodstock, the benefits will be nil, if any. That is, unless one considers the addition of another fast food restaurant along Route 47, or another alcohol-related gambling establishment a benefit.
Having stated my opinion regarding the TIF, it is now a reality for Woodstock. As a member of the City Council I will rigorously examine the merits of each proposed project that comes before the Council for consideration and / or approval.
5. How do you feel that Woodstock should work with the school board on housing within the TIF district?
Of Woodstock’s 10 elementary and middle schools, two are unrated, three are rated below average and only five are rated as average. None are rated above average or superior. In brief, our schools are in marginal condition.
The City Council, in the face of strong opposition from District 200 and McHenry County College, voted in favor of the TIF, essentially robbing our schools of necessary funding, an action that promises to create severe financial pressure in the years ahead.
The City should and must take whatever steps necessary to provide our schools with the funding they need to improve the quality of education in our community. Everyone understands that quality education is among the most important factors manufacturing companies and potential newcomers consider when selecting a desirable location to live and work.
6. What should Woodstock attempt to do with the Old Courthouse?
Our firm has developed a comprehensive, practical, financially viable, long-term plan for use of the entire Old Courthouse complex. That is, the courthouse, the jail and the former sheriff’s residence. Specifically, we recommend the City take the lead in the development of the "Woodstock Visual & Performing Arts Academy"
The "Woodstock Academy"would be patterned after the proven and successful adaptive re-use of many similar historical structures, such as those housing the Savanah College of Art & Design (https://www.scad.edu ) and the Jansen Art Center in Lyden ,Washington. (https://www.jansenartcenter.org)
Our plan includes space for public access for uses such as wedding receptions and business meetings. It includes a visitor center, a gift shop and museum, a cafe and creative classes of all types including dance, acting , theater arts, painting, drawing, print making, jewelry making, pottery, ceramics, sculpture, photography, film making, videography graphic and web site design, weaving and music of all types, as well as art and fitness classes for both children, adults and seniors. For those interested, the design staff of One Zero Charlie has prepared a comprehensive presentation illustrating the promise of the “Woodstock Academy."
There is nothing we know of that will revitalize our Square more than transforming the Old Courthouse Complex, into a vibrant, rrevitalized community asset, teaming with activity. As a bi-product, the Academy will enhance the economic well-being of businesses located on the Square as well as businesses located elsewhere in our community.
The "Woodstock Academy” will pay its own way and further enhance Woodstock cultural reputation by fully utilizing the Old Courthouse Complex for decades to come..
7. What else should voters know about you?
As a result of being in the creative services business for over 40 years I have a highly developed "creative muscle”. Our firm has served clients in dozens if not hundreds of lines of business. Risking conceit, I like to think of myself as a classic self-generating American entrepreneur . . a man with his head in the clouds, feet on the ground.
Over the years, I have signed the front of hundreds of paychecks, providing livelihoods for dozens of individuals. I’ve watched many of my young staff members marry, have children, purchase homes and prosper as a result of our association .
My professional life has included working with local, regional, national and multi-national accounts, including organizations, institutions and individuals of all types and sizes. I have traveled extensive throughout Asia, Europe and South America, both for business and pleasure. These experiences have given me a broader perspective than the provincial view of world I had as a younger man. For those interested in learning about the depth of our experience, a visit to: www.onezerocharlie.com will be informative.
Critically important to my professional success, and personal well-being, is the love and support of my wife. Joeleen Stanard teaches 7th grade math at the McHenry Middle School. She is the wind at my back and the source of the power I bring to my work and to my life.