Name: Sean Wheeler
Office sought: Village trustee of Cary
Family: Beautiful wife Kylie, daughter Reece (6) and son Elliott (3)
Occupation: Small business owner and Commercial/Residential Real Estate Broker
Education: Southern Illinois University
Civic involvement: 2019 President of the Cary-Grove Area Chamber of Commerce, Oak Knoll ECC PTO President, a member volunteer of the McHenry County Emergency Management Agency, a volunteer coach of the Cary Park District, and a Cary roadway volunteer/sponsor.
1. What is your largest priority for Cary if elected?
The village of Cary’s residents have several obstacles ahead that I prioritize, ranging from increasing municipal pension debt obligations, continuing to grow sustainable economic development, and an aging population having a difficult time “downsizing” locally, in part due to an exceptionally high property tax burden. I prioritize meeting and exceeding pension debt obligations for future stability, successfully fostering a strong climate for community and economic development by bringing in independent experts and additionally actively exploring opportunities and grant resources to help meet the needs of our seniors. Senior housing is paramount to me and I believe our Village can assist in advocating on their behalf and facilitate the growth needed to meet those needs, including offering transportation for seniors and the disabled. I believe to accomplish these priorities our Village needs to sustain financial stability. I also think it takes a willing board and mind to create solutions for increasing Village revenue to meet the rising costs of services without negatively affecting us taxpayers. Our village has experienced its fourth year of declining revenues, and I believe it takes an open mind to not label things in a situation such as this. All projects that increase that revenue should be judged on their merits.
2. What changes should Cary make in the future?
Moving forward, the elected officials of our Village need to make governing Cary about Cary. Opportunities ebb and flow, and while not every plan or design presented to the Village may be a perfect fit for our town I believe a board unified on taking personal issues out of politics and thinking on behalf of the Village as a whole is not only essential but an expectation.
With that, I believe:
Cary should shy away from the more passive approach it has taken regarding self-improvement and its methodology for developing quality business and industry.
Our village has such a unique and wonderful personality, and I see it fit to dedicate myself to moving projects along within our Village that stand by and attest to that image. Our small-town feel is so much of our identity, and I look forward to working with residents and developers alike to shape the future face of Cary to maintain the charm of our past, to promote residential and business development that fits in and exemplifies the spirit of Cary for our future.
3. How do you feel about Cary’s video gambling and any potential expansion into places such as gas stations?
The recent influx (almost 10 locations) of video gaming locally has certainly come with benefits and drawbacks. Although these gambling machines have generated marginal income for municipalities, which can hypothetically fund additional services for residents and balance budgets, they also can change the identity of eateries and shopping centers. I personally would prefer to tread lightly on the expansion of gaming for the future as the amount of gaming facilities currently in Cary sits at a fairly high ratio relative to the size of our town. I aspire for Cary to be trail blazing in economic and community development, but I feel this is one category we can afford to see how these games affect surrounding villages first. Simply jumping the gun on a gambling model expansion because it has the potential for more Village revenue is not a worthwhile endeavor. Being open to businesses is essential to me, yet here the question I ask myself here is “is this really what is the best use of this property and for its neighbors”? At the end of the day, the support from the community comes first, and I am not convinced we have that for an expansion of facilities.
4. How do you feel about Cary's recent and upcoming senior housing projects?
Senior housing is a pillar of my campaign and what I expect to get accomplished. Generally speaking, I feel positive that we are adding substantial volume to our housing inventory for senior citizens. I am disappointed that even though almost half of seniors receive less than ~$39,000 in annual income this project was met with mislabeling and fear mongering amongst portions of our board because of the tax credit for the developer receives for providing homes to seniors who earn just shy of that figure. With that, I intend to make it my mission to help fill as many of the voids in the spectrum of housing options for our seniors, as many of them have diverse needs and expectations. Not every senior coming from a home they’ve raised their family in is ready for an apartment, many may prefer more HOA maintained single level homes and townhomes. I look forward to this challenge of finding developers and working with them to create an array of options for seniors who love their community and simply want a place with a little less space and a lot less to maintain.
5. How do you feel about the way that Cary handled its harassment investigation of a village trustee?
Poorly. I am disappointed it takes the implementation of government ethics policies for individuals to act within a reasonable standard and I am especially ashamed to think that we had elected trustees discuss in private session to destroy a publicly paid for opinion/papers of a legal counsel. Reports should never be destroyed no matter who they shine light on. I do not believe that just because one says that something is unsubstantiated our board should ever discuss destroying a report. I believe that the mess was furthered by parties attempting to discredit the village’s ability to investigate and draw attention away from the real problem, harassment. Smoke and mirrors has no place when others are willing to step up. For better or worse, the disagreements were real, and I feel that it at the very least exposed that a need for actual, true transparency exists.
6. How do you feel about Cary's new social media policy?
I am pleased to see our community move into the 21st century, although I do believe that we are on a downswing of users who expect to get accurate through those somewhat unreliable social media means. I believe that in general the Village can cultivate a better method of communication that is more encompassing, such as a bigger outreach on digital communicating and cell phone opt in, as it can get very muddy on the social media sites regarding which post or newsfeed is the honest version of events happening.
7. What else should voters know about you?
I don’t believe I or any single person has all the answers and as a current local leader I take heed of that every day. I love to lead by example and get hands on with the challenges/opportunities ahead of me, and I believe that has given me a competitive edge thus far. I believe knowing how to use your resources and where to seek out your answers is critical, personally, professionally and at the local political level as well. I pride myself on being sure that I seek many opinions, weigh them to the potential outcomes and proceed from there in a professional and respectful manner, understanding that although I may not have agreed with every opinion I have heard, no one should be put down or ignored for their opinion. Translating that to the Village board in my opinion is fairly natural, as being presented frequently with several options and taking action from there takes a fair and equitable approach such as that. I love my life here, my family and the numerous organizations I am lucky to be a part of. At the end of the day, I want to leave Cary a bit better than we found it and set an example for my children that I can put my name to.