In their own words

Board of candidates pitch their purpose

SUN CITY – A sudden surge in volunteerism is changing the way the Sun City association does things.

There are 10 candidates vying for four open positions on the community board of directors in this fall’s election.  The 10 held a unique two-hour meet and greet session on August 7 in the Fountain View atrium in Prairie Lodge.

Each candidate was positioned next to an easel on which was posted highlights of his or her career and Sun City activities. Residents moved from one to the other, engaging in lively conversations and hearing the board wanna-bes explain why they want to serve on the community’s governing body.

Over two hours, dozens of residents showed up. That’s a tiny percentage of the 9,500 residents here, but the candidates enjoyed the attention anyway, because these were the people that will cast well-informed votes in the mail balloting in October.

The Sun Day was there also. I asked the candidates one question – What is the bottom line, most important reason you are running for a seat? Here, in random order, are their answers:

Donald Kay, who has served three years on the community’s Modifications Committee. “Our homes are our biggest investment in this community. We need to do things that are good for the community, and that are good investments of our money. I want to contribute to the leadership of that effort.”

Gene Rhodes, past volunteer in the Vtec tours program and past president of Prairie Singers. Former board member. “I took some time off to take care of some personal things, but people told me that I try hard to work with them, so I want to come back and help. We need to get answers to residents’ questions and concerns quicker.”

Sandra Portincaso, the only woman candidate. “I got involved in leadership and management positions in my career, and I want to do the same here.”

Vito Benigno, current chairperson of the community’s Neighborhood Advisory Council. “My priority is to manage the resources that attracted me to come to this place. I really care about this place, and that motivates me to get involved.”

Bob Wainscott, one of two board incumbents seeing re-election. He was appointed to a one-year term this year to fill a vacancy and this is his first election campaign. “I’m passionate about this community and concerned for its well-being, that drives everything I do. We are financially healthy and I want to help maintain that positive situation. Our staff works hard to develop responses to resident questions and concerns. We need to improve our communication back to those residents.”

Steve Bytnar, the other incumbent seeking re-election.  Best known for helping residents file property tax assessments, and as the producer of the Assessment Model Reports that are posted on the Special Interest Groups Sun City website by PTAG (Property Tax Action Group). “I am a firm believer in service to others and giving back to the community. That’s the way I’m built, and that’s what drives me to serve on the board.”

Russ Howard, current chairperson of the Facility Advisory Committee. “I want to make our community website better and look at solar energy. I also want to set an example of research and preparation for meetings.”

Ken Andersen, former board member seeking another term. Past chairperson of Neighborhood Watch. “I’m an all-in guy.  I took time out to take a long, recent vacation trip, now I want to come back and interact with, and listen to, residents and fellow board members.”

Dennis Watts – “I believe I would do what you would do if you were elected. You would do the little things that would make the community better. Sun City is outstanding, but I don’t think enough has been done to upgrade it. I would leverage our numbers (more than 9,000), and we should communicate to the Illinois Tollway Authority that the interstate tolls at Route 47 are unfair, and we should add a good meal to the wonderful outdoor concerts. We need Asian night, Mexican night, or American night.”

Rick Sperando, the newest Sun Citian among the 10 candidates – he has lived in the community for two months. “I am a big advocate of transparency and communications. I want to maintain that spirit as a board member.”

Residents will have another chance, in addition to neighborhood events, to hear all the candidates at a September 11 question-answer forum in Drendel Hall.

Ballots will be mailed to Sun City households by October 1, and must be returned to the association’s election service by Oct. 16. The ballot will contain 10 names, residents should vote for four.

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