After filing to run in three Geneva races in the April 9 local elections, Jay Moffat says he's widdled it down to two.
"Due to legal opinions provided to me by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, after filing for multiple offices I have withdrawn from the ballot for Board Member of CUSD#304, commonly known as the School Board," Moffat wrote in a comment to an earlier version of this article."
Moffat had filed petitions to run for Geneva School Board, Library Board and Park Board.
"My thought process was: How many times do you go into the election booth and you don’t have anyone to vote for?" he said in a phone interview Thursday, Jan. 3. "There's a certain frustration I feel when I walk into the polling place when it says 'pick four' and there are only three names or two names on the ballot."
It is sometimes difficult to find candidates to run for local offices, which pay little if any, require long hours and subject the board members to criticism that goes along with elected office.
Moffat knows from experience. He's a 22-year member of the Geneva Plan Commission, and years ago founded or co-founded nonprofit organizations whose purpose was to improve life in his community, including the Geneva Senior Housing Corporation and the Neighborhood Improvement Board.
On Oct. 31, Moffat retired after more than three decades as an air-traffic controller—a career which for a time overlapped his 21 years in the banking industry.
In the last two months of 2012, the admittedly energetic, "Type A" personality found himself looking for ways to give back.
"The reality is, I faced mandatory retirement for a job I held for more than 31 years, and it freed up more time," he said. "I’m a firm believer in the phrase, 'You earn, you learn and you return.' I've finished the 'earning' part of life, and I believe I have ability to serve any of these positions."
Moffat acknowledges that seeking more than one office isn't right for everyone, but he points out that there was a time when he held two jobs, was a Plan Commission member and ran the Geneva Senior Housing Corporation, "so to serve at multiple positions is no problem for me."
"My position is somewhat rare in that I'm a Type A who has significant time on my hands and a longterm desire to serve," he said. "I hate to say 'unique,' but it is a different situation."
In the 22 years he's been on the Plan Commission, Moffat has only missed "six or seven" meetings, he said, and those were because of surguries and in one case a death in the family.
"I don't think any elected or appointed official would challenge my attendance record," he said. "My ability to serve the community is there."
Before he gathered signatures for the various offices, Moffat said he checked with the Illinois State's Attorney's Office to make sure there wasn't a law prohibiting someone from running for all three. The initial opinion was that there was no restriction.
"I have since received written opinions that the parks and schools are incompatible because they have some cross-use," Moffat said.
Examples include Friendship Station preschool, which is co-operated by the Geneva Park District and School District 304, and the Kids’ Zone before- and after-school care program. Geneva’s school buildings also host several park district programs, including wrestling, basketball, gymnastics, dances, recitals and adult open gym and flag football.
There are two open seats on the Park Board, four open seats on the Library Board and four open seats on the School Board.
Moffat said the reason he filed for three positions was simply to make sure there was public discussion in each race.
"I like to bring out debate in a matter," he said. "How many meetings do you go to where there is no debate? That, to me, has always been a problem. We need passionate individuals who are going to work in a direction that’s going to help the community move forward."
Moffat is a co-founder of Geneva TaxFACTS, but he emphasized that he does not consider TaxFACTS to be a political organization. He said he formed the group along with Geneva mayoral candidate Bob McQuillan and columnist Rick Holinger with a goal of holding local government accountable and helping citizens get information they need to make decisions at the ballot box.
He says local board members' jobs tend to be apolitical, as well.
"I don’t believe the people on these boards are politicians. Or at least I believe the vast majority are not," he said. "I'm running for office because it’s about community service and the fact I have the time, ability and desire to serve."