Election 2012: Carol Wofsey for Ward 1
Election day is Tuesday, April 3.
University City Patch asked each municipal candidate to fill out an election questionnaire based on our questions and those submitted by readers.
Each candidate was given the same questionnaire. Look for the candidate responses to reader questions on Sunday, March 25.
Here is Carol Wofsey, candidate for Ward One, in her own words.
- Name: Carol Wofsey
- Age: 57
- Years lived in U City: 30
- Family: Husband Dan Wofsey; three adult children (Katherine, Allison, Eric) and grandson (Joshua)
- Education: J.D., Vanderbilt University School of Law; B.A (History) University of Rochester
- Web site: www.carolforwardone.com
- Contact information: email@example.com or 314-406-4963
- Previous elected office: None
Now retired, I have a record as a successful business lawyer and a leader in my profession. I was a securities and business lawyer at Bryan Cave representing major corporate clients such as McDonnell Douglas, Emerson Electric, Stifel Nicolaus, Washington University, Brown Shoe and Centerre Bank. I later practiced at Maritz Inc., advising top executives on a range of operational, transactional and human resources issues, including initiatives to improve efficiency and streamline expenses and corporate compliance programs. I was also President of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Corporate Counsel Association.
I have an extensive public service background. Highlights include my experience as a hardworking participant in U City neighborhoods and organizations, including:
- PTO Co-president Flynn Park Elementary School;
- University City in Bloom;
- a tutor at Women in Charge GED program in north University City;
- President of the Lindell Neighborhood Association;
- Vice president of the McNair Sixth Grade Center PTO.
I am a problem solver dedicated to finding solutions to problems in our city and our region:
- Secretary of the U City Mayoral Task Force on Bike and Walkability;
- Two University City School District Board Committees — a Bond Exploratory Committee (Co-Chair) and the Attract and Retain Committee (co-authored final report);
- Child advocate in the City of St. Louis’ foster care program through Voices for Children;
- Central Reform Congregation’s social responsibility Steering Committee;
- Cote Brilliante Presbyterian Church/Central Reform Congregation Joint Venture in which members of an African American church and Jewish congregation share meals and dialogue monthly)
What do you like about U City?
I love U City. It’s beautiful – the architecture, the lawns, the gardens, the parks, the neighborhoods, the urban feel with trees. We are 20 minutes to everywhere. Most of all, I love that U City is a wonderful collection of people — people of diverse religions, cultures, orientations, colors, economic backgrounds and political opinions.
If you could change one thing, what would be?
I would like to see all of us work harder on the challenges of the diversity we are all so proud of and love.
Identify the top three challenges U City is facing at this time.
- The recession;
- Our public schools, and community perceptions about our schools;
- Counteracting years of neglect of our infrastructure and City finances and financial controls.
The City Council does not control the first two; when I am on the Council I plan to focus on the third.
How would you characterize U City’s economic climate and what plans do you have to work on it?
The City has economic challenges. The recession has hit here as it has everywhere. The City revenue stream is predicted to be flat, and a portion of its sales tax revenues are threatened by proposals by other municipalities to modify the pooling system by which sales taxes are allocated to U City from the sales tax pool.
Short term solutions: support efforts by City representatives to negotiate a sales tax compromise beneficial to University City, as well as seek the support of legislators (County and state level) as appropriate to achieve this.
Longer term solutions: work to achieve responsible growth in the City’s population (the City’s sales tax revenue is based on its head count for a per-capita share of sales tax generated within the St. Louis County sales tax pool) and encourage responsible development to grow our tax base.
What is your philosophy on economic development and financial responsibility?
We must work to foster economic development throughout University City in a way that strengthens the fabric of the community. I believe in a balanced operating budget, in carefully managing our tax dollars and continuing the improvements we have seen in City finances.
What are the three issues of greatest concern to the Ward you seek to represent? How would you address each of these concerns?
My constituents are concerned about the problems in the City’s Finance Department, about the role of Washington University in the community, and our infrastructure.
In the past eleven months outside experts have delivered three highly critical reports detailing years old problems in the University City government’s Finance Department showing, among other things:
- $1.6 million in uncollected garbage fees from 3,373 accounts as of June 2010
- 22 City checking accounts (municipal norm is two)
- Large balances (over $3.5 Million) in our City checking accounts that might better be placed in investments
- City checkbooks not reconciled and bank charges not checked for accuracy
- No effective year end closing procedures, causing the City to rely on and pay independent auditors to help prepare statements
- $1 million accounting software system with few employees trained to use it
- Late and inadequate financial reports to the Council
These longstanding problems, accepted by past Councils, threaten the integrity of the City’s finances and make it difficult if not impossible for the City Council to do its job of financial oversight of the City’s books and operations.
Until this year, the City’s independent auditor was not even hired by and did not report to the Council, as required both by the City Charter and by common sense.
On the Council, I will require City management to act expeditiously on these issues and enforce accountability by requiring regular periodic reports on progress, as well requesting a follow-up outside exam to make sure these matters are being appropriately remedied.
First Ward residents are also concerned about the role of Washington University in our community. I would like to see the City—and the City Council—work proactively for a more productive relationship with Washington University. We need to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with this very important neighbor.
In addition, all of us need to be concerned about our under-maintained streets, sidewalks, curbs and trees. Within a balanced operating budget, I propose to put police and fire services first and then better maintenance of our streets, curbs, sidewalks and trees.
This must be more of a priority item than it has been.
How would you increase citizen participation in government and volunteer boards?
I have a proven track record of volunteer recruitment for numerous organizations — most recently with the Fall 2011 U City in Bloom Garden Tour for which I recruited and placed
approximately 50 volunteers for the day of the tour and supporting operations. I will put this expertise to work to actively seek new recruits for our volunteer boards, commissions and task forces from all sections of our City rather than focusing on the familiar faces around me or from those who already serve.
I will reach out to all neighborhoods and establish relationships with all areas of my Ward; I have started this already by regularly attending community events throughout the Ward and the City and through my monthly e-newsletter.
I will continue both when I am elected.
What do you want the voters in your ward to know about you?
You deserve a council member who:
- Understands, and will make every effort to remedy, the serious financial failures demonstrated by past audits
- Will attend to our core services – police and fire, streets, sidewalks, trees, parks
- Will promote and continue to develop our City
- Will look to the future of University City.
- I am independent, proactive, honest, energetic and hardworking. I will work to represent your interest on our City Council.