Mark M. Foulkes: 2023 candidate for St. Charles City Council Ward 1, 4-year
Town: St. Charles
Age on Election Day: 46
Occupation: Wredling Middle School teacher
Employer: St. Charles Unit District 303
Previous offices held: None
Q: What is the most serious issue your community will face in the coming years and how should the city council respond to it?
A: I believe the most serious issue St. Charles will face is the development of some of its projects like the First Street Plaza and the old police station. I believe as a member of the city council, I will need to be open to all ideas to make sure the decision that is made for these two projects looks good not only in the moment, but 20 years from now.
Once the projects are complete, they have the ability to bring additional sources of revenue to our city which would be beneficial. These are projects that can define our city and I look forward to being a part of that process.
Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?
A: I believe the state of our community's finances are strong. The current city council has done an outstanding job creating a realistic budget and following it.
The current staff structure is integral in bringing any financial concerns to the council's knowledge and recommending realistic solutions to tackle some of those issues. It will be my responsibility to ensure future budgets follow the same model and are communicated to St. Charles residents.
Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?
A: The three top priorities for spending in St. Charles over the next four years are the updating of infrastructure (streets, utilities and water), the development of the old police station and the development of the Charlestowne Mall.
We know St. Charles is getting older and the infrastructure will need to be updated. The development of the police station would be a game changer for the city. It has the possibility of being a main attraction by leading people into our downtown area as well as our parks.
Finally, the Charlestowne Mall has been on the community's radar for years. In addition to the mail, there remains a great deal of opportunity for development. It is the responsibility of the city council to make sure with all the projects, the best idea is put in place and partner with the developers/individuals to make this happen.
Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?
A: As a taxpayers perspective, there does not appear to be unnecessary money being spent. However, once elected, I look forward to seeing more closely where money is being spent and making sure the city continues to spend money responsibly.
Q: What do you see as the most important infrastructure project the community must address? Why and how should it be paid for? Conversely, during these uncertain economic times, what project(s) can be put on the back burner?
A: I believe we need to continue to invest in our roadways, water and sewer systems. Our community members need to feel assurance that their sewer and water supply systems are up to date and properly working.
This can also be a selling point for families moving into the area who are looking for assurances in those areas. Our roadways are important for our safety. Not just our main roadways, but our neighborhood roads as well. A schedule needs to be created to make sure they are up to date and maintained.
In terms of projects that can be put on the back burner, I am not sure if there is one. I would lean on staff to prioritize and provide me with the rationale in order to determine that answer.
Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage local government? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions with your city council.
A: I have been fortunate to hold numerous teacher and coaching leadership positions over the past 23 years. All of these experiences have helped me develop my leadership style. I believe the best way to help determine policy is to be curious. We have to have a full understanding of opinions and ideas.
I feel that to make practical decisions, we cannot be judgmental. We need to be open to all ideas and discuss how logical that idea is moving forward. I believe this is effective in producing effective actions and decisions because everyone feels valued and heard. The city council is in this together.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: One idea I would like to see our community explore is an indoor sports dome that multiple sports communities could utilize. I think this would be a great venue for a number of reasons.
One, it would give our local athletes a place to practice and develop their skills.
Two, it would allow the city to host events in the sports dome that would help create revenue for hotels and restaurants. Currently, our athletes have to travel to other communities to experience a facility like this. Having a sports facility will provide our athletes with a local place to develop, and decrease the travel burden for parents.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I believe I am the best candidate because I am someone who is deeply invested in our community. I am a lifelong St. Charles resident that has chosen to stay here and raise my family. I had a wonderful childhood growing up in St. Charles and experiencing all of the great aspects that the city has to offer. My wife and I are excited to be able to raise our kids in such an amazing community.
I have a strong history with St. Charles. I have seen the city develop first hand into the wonderful community it is. I am someone who wants to help St. Charles be the best community for families to live in and raise a family. I know I can work with people and make tough decisions so our city can continue to move forward while still keeping its identity. I believe I am a problem solver who can help develop solutions. I feel like my positive energy is a plus and I'm excited to lead the city going forward.