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UPDATE: Jay Moffat Withdraws From School Board Race But Still Seeks Library and Park Board Seats

A longtime Geneva Plan Commission member says community service and a desire to "bring out debate" inspired him to run for Geneva School Board, Park Board and Library Board. Now he's down to two campaigns.

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legal opinions provided to me by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, after filing for multiple offices I have withdrawn from the ballot for Board Member of CUSD#304, commonly known as the School Board," Moffat wrote in a comment to an earlier version of this article."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."

Terry Flanagan January 03, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Anyone who knows Jay knows that not only does he now have more time, but he also has the energy, the talent, the intelligence, and the patience to serve in any or all of these positions. And to do so exceptionally well. Even with the additional responsibility, I'm sure he'd still find time to volunteer in other efforts as he does with Geneva Beautification and other community activities .I'm always amazed by Jay's level of enthusiasm, his grasp of the issues, and his genuine concern for and devotion to Geneva. I'm sure that the voters will be well served should they elect him to serve in any of these offices.
Jay Moffat January 04, 2013 at 12:11 AM
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. As Rick has stated above, the Schools and Parks have worked cooperatively for many years to combine community resources to better our quality of life while watching our wallets. Unfortunately for me that made the offices "incompatible" and therefore I could not hold both offices. Because I believe the electorate deserves the opportunity to actual elect someone into office I have decided to remain on the Park District ballot where 2 Commissioner spots are available and the voters now have 3 candidates. The School Board had 9 candidates for 4 positions so by removing my name from that ballot, the voters still have 8 great community activist to select from.
Rick Holinger January 04, 2013 at 01:55 AM
Jay, you're an exemplar to us all. Thank you for giving back. I know how passionate you are about making Geneva and the larger community the best place it can be. Good luck in your various runs for office; count on my vote as many times as you need it (jeez, I never thought I'd be able to say that about someone running for office).
Lou Pierce January 04, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Rick, Rick, Rick....."widled?" What is that...nouveau spelling? How about the more traditional "whittled?"
Tommy Trash January 05, 2013 at 03:11 AM
Lou, you post a comment supporting Jeff's article and the only point you can make to this rebuttal is finding a spelling error? How about in Jeff's article where "Moffat" was misspelled with two t's. There the articles are even, now try and find something else to split hairs on.
Lou Pierce January 05, 2013 at 04:01 AM
You got me! I missed that spelling error -- twice, if my quick review of Jeff Ward's article didn't miss any others. But seriously, that could easily be a typo, not as heinous a crime to me as using a word (or worse, a non-word) you're not familiar enough with to recognize that something is wrong with it. I don't know how someone of Rick Nagle's age could be so unfamiliar with the language not to know that the appropriate word for his usage was whittled. I'm pretty sure he's several years younger than I, but it shouldn't be an antique word to him. By the way, I found something else to split hairs on: you referred to article by Rick Nagle as a "rebuttal." No way. Exactly as he labeled it, it's merely an update of the situation. At the time he wrote the initial article, Ward did not know that Moffat was going to drop out of one of the three races he had entered. Personally, it won't really be newsworthy until he (1) drops out of another one and (2) promises to resign his position on the Geneva Planning Commission if he wins. I don't care if believes he can handle four part-time positions, I'm every bit as Type B as he thinks he is Type A. At our post-retirement ages, I wouldn't insult the public by pretending that I could perform more than one of these jobs. For heaven's sake, Mr. Moffat, get a life. If you need something to do, volunteer your services. There are a plethora of opportunities.
Tommy Trash January 05, 2013 at 04:29 AM
A) Moffat was misspelled once B) '...you referred to the* article by Rick Nagle as a "rebuttal."' Fixed that for you! C) "I don't care if he* believes he can handle four part-time..." It's okay, take your time on the next response. D) You still haven't presented a good argument as to why Mr. Moffat being on the Geneva Plan Commission and holding one of the elected posts he is running for poses a conflict of interest. I personally don't know the scope of either role so I can't argue for either side, and I certainly won't argue it blindly and without backing.
Lou Pierce January 05, 2013 at 06:12 AM
Fixed exactly what for me? You called the Nagle article a rebuttal. It is an update, not a rebuttal. What's to fix? Apparently I didn't make myself clear. My comment about Moffat's ability to hold two public positions at the same time is merely an opinion. It's one that disqualifies him for any position, in my opinion. I was not trying to out-do our Attorney General (or her staff). He may be allowed to hold more than one public position, electoral or not, but he's going to have to do it without my vote. Similarly, ANY public official continuing to hang on to an office as s/he ages into his/her 80s, 90s or higher will never get my vote. It's just ego after, say, 75, I would apply this rule to Supreme Court Justices if their tenures weren't for life. Even though Justice John Paul Stevens was 90 or 91 when he retired, his mind was crystal clear. If you doubt that, read his dissent in the Citizens United case. At least he was very sensitive to the issue of his advancing age. I don't trust Antonin Scalia to be as judicious (pun intended).
Melissa January 05, 2013 at 07:08 AM
I applaud Jay Moffat's heart and passion. I believe it is something that lacks in most people. He seems to be a hard worker who, unlike some, is not out bashing people. Go for it Jay, you will have my vote!

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