As everyone is aware the Village of Orland Park had an election this week. It was a challenging election season for a lot of reasons but the slate of candidates that I supported, People Over Politics, consisting of Bill Healy, Mike Milani, and Cindy Katsenes prevailed!
I want to thank everyone for their support as this was an extremely important election. The machine was out in full force behind their opponents. These were the groups that were supporting their opponents, the Orland Integrity Party:
- The Chicago Federation of Labor
- AFSCME (the largest public sector labor union in the country)
- Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady (who personally funded at least 3 nasty attack mailers)
- Orland Township Republican Committeewoman Liz Gorman (who attacked me personally at a Republican meeting and then ran 2 extremely nasty attack robo-calls against me)
- Orland Township Democratic Organization
- State Senator Michael Hastings
- All of the current Village Board
- Clerk John Mehalek
- Dan McLaughlin
- The Carpenter’s Union
This was the Chicago Machine at it’s dirtiest and nastiest. They sent 12 straight negative mailers, and produced a constant barrage of negative robo-calls, tried to rig an election and not allow voters a choice, used strong arm union tactics against supporters of People Over Politics, attacks on our mall, our police, our fire department and a barrage of lie after lie after lie.
We had virtually everyone against us, except those who mattered—-the voters of Orland Park!
Congratulations to the PEOPLE of Orland Park for stepping up and keeping this out of our town. Make no mistake, they will be trying again.
There were many lies and false attacks made specifically about me so I would like to take the opportunity to remind you who I am and who you elected 2 years ago.
I grew up in Orland Park from the day my parents adopted me. I am the product of D135 schools (Doctor, Center, Park and Orland Jr. High) and Carl Sandburg High School. I played baseball and basketball for the OYA. I also played football for the Pioneers and played in the first Pioneer football game. Additionally, I watched my Dad serve on the Village Board, the OYA Board and as a founding member of the Pioneer Football board. I learned later that my Dad was a founding member of the OYA board. By watching him, I learned what it meant to serve and to put service before self when he voted for Orland Square knowing it might cost him his next election. To his dying day, he never hesitated in saying that was the right vote and didn’t regret it, even though it did, in fact, cost him an election.
It was this call for service, and my love for airplanes and flying that led me to Arizona State University and a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and into the Air Force. My eyesight would not qualify for pilot training, however, it was good enough for navigator training. It was there that I finished at the top of my class which allowed me to become a Weapons System Officer in the Air Force’s newest fighter, the F-15E.
Before leaving the Air Force, I flew over 1,500 hours and 45 combat sorties in the F-15E with three tours in Saudi Arabia in Operations Desert Storm and Southern Watch. Also, when I became an Instructor, I was the youngest instructor in the F-15E. My last job in the Air Force was Chief of 4th Fighter Wing Training where I was responsible for the training for four fighter squadrons.
While in the Air Force, I spent weekends getting my MBA from Duke University and graduated as Fuqua Scholar.
Upon leaving the Air Force, I took a job in Chicago with a top-tier strategy consulting firm where I worked on projects for several multi-national firms that included:
- Developing an aircraft leasing strategy for a Fortune 100 firm
- Building a new store growth strategy for a national high-end retail department store (and Fortune 500 company) for their Midwest Region
- Developed a new branch location strategy for a Fortune 100 Banking client
- Conducted due diligence on several mergers and acquisitions for private equity firms
I also decided to move back to my hometown Orland Park with my wife and three children. All of three of my kids went to D135 schools and graduated from Carl Sandburg High School. During this time in Orland Park, I also gave my time to the OYA and to the Orland Park Magic as a baseball and basketball coach from several years. I learned that from my Dad, who coached me and I remember that his involvement was important to me. I decided to do the same thing for my kids.
In 2003, I decided to buy a local business and bought a tree service that had 2 trucks and 5 employees. By the time I ran for office, I had built it to over 20 employees and 13 trucks and relocated it to a property I purchased 2 miles outside of Orland Park.
It is important to note that Orland Park was my second biggest customer at the time I ran for office, having averaged over $225,000 in annual sales between 2011 and 2016. I knew that if I won that I would not be able to do this work and it would be very costly for my business. I was OK with that, because I felt it was the right thing to do for Orland Park. As many of you know, I recently sold that business after a year of painful negotiations.
I also started a consulting business in 2009 at a time when the landscaping and all construction businesses were experiencing a significant down turn. We focus on helping businesses with growth strategies.
In 2016, when my campaign team reviewed my background it was clear:
- I was far more qualified for economic development than the former Mayor
- My experience made me well qualified to be mayor
- Military experience similar in many ways to police organization
- HR experience with own business
- Contracting experience with building department
- Current contractor for Public Works and Parks Department for tree, landscaping and drainage work
- Technology experience with own business
- Economic development experience helping businesses with growth strategies
- Finance and accounting experience as consultant and business owner
- Knowledge and understanding of the community of Orland Park
It is also important to note many of the things that the Village of Orland Park has accomplished since I took office in May of 2017.
- I was elected and opted out of the pension, saving taxpayers over $2M
- A term limit referendum was introduced as promised
- Paid down over $50M in net debt
- Introduced technologies to improve efficiency and lower our operating budget by ~$4M
- Engaged with a developer to develop the remainder of the Triangle
- Weathered the closing of two major anchors with an AMC theater and Von Maur scheduled to replace them and open within the next 16 months
- Improved transparency with Facebook Live and audio recordings of village board meetings
- Prioritized the I-80 corridor and started the Chicago Southland Interstate Alliance to facilitate its development
- Overall crime reduction of 25% since I took office including an over 30% decrease in crime at Orland Square
- Increased investment in technology
- Installed LED street lighting – energy savings will pay for the project in 1.6 years
- Approved investment of $1,600,000 to improve Humphrey Sports Complex that has not been overhauled since it was built in the 1980’s
- Multiple restaurants opened as we transition toward more food and entertainment
I look forward to the next two years. I know that with Bill, Mike and Cindy’s addition to the board our board will be more functional and team oriented than the past two years. I also want to thank Carole Ruzich for working with me when I joined the board. While we have had our differences over the last 7 months, many of the accomplishments above would not have happened without her open mind and willingness to work together when I was first elected
Again, I want to Congratulate Bill, Mike and Cindy. It’s not easy to throw your hat in the ring and expose yourself to the type of vitriol they faced. Awesome job and I look forward to working with them.