Patch sent all local candidates for office identical questionnaires in order to compile candidate profiles prior to the April election. Each candidate who returned the survey will be featured on the site.
Find out who else is running for Crestwood Board of Aldermen.
Bill Schelinski, 53 years old, 600 Sessions Ave.
Occupation: Part-time professional groundskeeper (great flexibility and it’s outdoors), full-time primary care giver to our two children
Education: M.B.A. Kellstadt Graduate School of Management, Human Resources Management, DePaul University, Chicago Illinois; B.S. in Accounting, Bradley University, Peoria Illinois; Passed the Certified Public Accountant Exam, St. Louis Community College, St. Louis Missouri; National Tax Training School, Mahwah New Jersey; Jackson – Hewitt Income Tax School
Family: My spouse’s name is Patricia (Trish); children are Lilly (8 yrs old) and Lewis (3 yrs old). Lilly attends Crestwood Elementary and recently won 2nd Place at their Science Fair!
Years lived in Crestwood: We are going into our 5th year in Crestwood.
Background: I have over 20 years management experience as a Budget Director, Accounting Manager, Operational Auditor, Controller, Process Re-Engineering and Human Resources in Healthcare, Telecommunications, Promotions, and Consulting from large to small companies including start-ups. I’ve always believed in giving back by providing my time and services to organizations like the March of Dimes, Junior Chamber of Commerce where I held a variety of positions including President, Share Your Soles, Chicago Cares, Crestwood Elementary School, Habitat for Humanity, St. Catherine Laboure Parish functions, and I recently joined the St. Louis Watercolor Society.
Please provide a brief summary of your reasons for running: We’re at a critical point. My life experience has taught me that I get things done. I work hard. I like challenges and finding solutions with the stake-holders. There are several issues we’ve talked about in Crestwood since I moved here that are still unresolved. I’ve written letters to the editor, but there’s no actionable result. We need to move forward and that means getting our citizens and business owners involved so that the City Administration can make well informed decisions. I want to be part of making that happen in a fiscally responsible way while we face declining revenues.
What do you currently see as the biggest issue facing the City of Crestwood? Reliable and predictable revenue streams. Revenues drive the quality and type of services offered to the residents and business owners. We are very dependent upon sales tax revenues and they have been steadily declining in large part due to the closing of Crestwood Mall, but also because of sales decreases due to the economy. People are simply cutting back in all areas, from retail purchases to conserving gasoline, and utilities that also generate taxes for Crestwood.
In what area does the city need to improve? If I look at a bigger picture view to find a root cause and effect I would start with communication with residents and businesses. Why? There is a lot of apathy out there. Decisions, not just by our leaders but by our residents are based on limited information. I’ve gone to several homes where people shake their head no and say “I’ve had enough” or “I’m done with that”. They’ve given up. They are not engaged. I think reasonable people, whether the resident or business owner, are far more understanding when you ask them for help, or ask them to do without if they can be told why. I don’t think as a city we’ve done a good job of communication of how well or bad off we are in certain areas. They look at the empty mall and make their judgments based on that. Talk plainly, get out in front of the people, and respond to them even if it’s not what they want to hear. Let them know they have been heard. Communication on the “District at Crestwood” (Crestwood Mall) has been through channels that are limited to some people (those that don’t have the Internet), the newspaper, which is limited in space, and our city newsletter which has been limited. Help them understand what and why.
Are you satisfied with the way the city has been operating? There are several big issues, two being the “Mall,” the other being the Affton Fire Protection District, that I wish we’d get moving on and put them behind us. I think we’ve lost some valuable time. We had some big personnel changes to get through. Outside of those, the city has done a great job of keeping a clean balance sheet, which means no new borrowing, and has still maintained basic services. That is something to be grateful for in these economic times. We can and will do better.
What are your thoughts on the progress of redevelopment at Crestwood Court? I don’t mean to offend, but what progress? When I moved here 5 years ago it was in part because of the existing operating mall and it’s proximity to where I lived, low property taxes for my new family, and where my daughter would be going to school. Just a few years ago I used to walk my daughter up there in her stroller and play in the kid’s area when Westfield owned the property. I believe I know why Westfield did what they did. But I am not encouraged by the research I have done not only on TIF, CID, TDD, etc, and the request for it, but also by statements made by the current developer.
Assume you win the election. What single thing do you want to accomplish during your time on the board? I have no doubt that there will be the talent and experience to get us through the next several years. But if you gave me a “job” to do, it would be to address what I have heard over and over…”Crestwood is a hard place to do business with.” I’d like to re-build our relationships with the businesses. I’d like to have our own Chamber of Commerce, or a ‘Business Liaison’ office that works with the owners from start to finish. They provide vibrancy, revenues, jobs, services and goods. We also need a “Downtown” where people congregate on a social and economic level.