Name: Michael W. Leopold
Immediate family members: Wife, Claire S. Leopold; son, James M. Leopold; daughter, Kathryn N. Leopold.
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Office seeking: President Board of Trustees (mayor)
Occupation: Sr. Vice President Huntleigh Securities Corp. Investment Councelor
Previous and current elected offices and terms served: Treasurer, village of Swansea, 2008-present; Trustee, village of Swansea 2003-2008
Why are you running? I believe I have the leadership skills and business qualities to do the job to help the community grow and thrive. There are times in every job, you need to rethink and try new ideas. We need to find alternative ways to raise funds other than property taxes in the village. While sales taxes are not always the answer either, in some cases, how we spend the sales tax money we have is the key. We need to learn how to live within our means. I believe that I have the leadership and business qualities that will allow us to take a new look at our community.
What is the most important issue facing the village of Swansea? How would you approach it? Raising taxes and spending beyond our means are two major issues. I will work to control taxes and keep Swansea affordable for middle class families. We have to live within our means and spend accordingly before piling more on the taxpayers with raising taxes. I would also like to curb the frivolous lawsuits against the village. Lawsuits that are currently pending are litigated and paid for by our property taxes. I would like to finish those and better use that money.
If you were writing a job description for the position you’re seeking, what would it say? WANTED: A person with leadership abilities and business sense. Financial experience preferred with interest in operating within given parameters (budget.) Must have a vision for smart growth through cooperation with community leaders and the ability to listen to constituents.
How would keep costs down or reduce costs in your municipality? I would start to earmark funds for the reduction of our current pension issues. I would also make a long-term plan to put money aside for repairs to our roads. Also, it’s important to inventory our current available business spaces and work to fill those. We need a plan to bring in new businesses to increase sales tax received. I would reduce irresponsible spending and adhere to the budget.
In St. Clair County, there will be votes on two sales tax referendums. One would benefit school facility costs, one would benefit public safety. Do you support either or both of the referendums? Why or why not? I support both. My children had the advantage of attending school in Swansea. Both of our schools are in need of money due to the uncertainty of state funding, and they must find an answer to sustain the quality of education we are, and have been, so lucky to have.
Why should people vote for you? As the treasurer for Swansea, I have seen where and how we have been spending beyond our means. My 40 years of experience in the financial industry will help me to work to control any mismanagement in spending. I, like most people, do not want to have increased property taxes and will work diligently to reduce expenses and control spending. I have a good business sense, along with common practicality, that will help me work well with businesses and push for a new direction in growth.