Julie Araskog and René Silvin are running for the Group 2 Town Council seat. Each candidate responded in writing last week to five questions submitted by the Daily News.
These are Silvin's responses.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given, by whom, and why was it the best?
When I first started out in business, I took control of a well-known but struggling hospital consulting firm. In my youthful naïveté I thought a wealthy relative on the Forbes List would come to my rescue, if asked.
When I approached him for help he said he would do something more important than giving me money. He would not do so. He explained I would always remember the lesson he was about to teach me:
“Unless you have had your fingers burned by the fear of financial failure, and have both met payrolls and worried about not meeting payrolls, you will never be a seasoned executive.”
Thank you my dear Uncle Charles.
What is the most satisfying philanthropic work you’ve ever done and why?
I have visited hundreds of hospitals all over the world. By far the most heartbreaking visits were to huge hospitals operating in poverty-stricken areas of West Africa. There, two patients were “treated” in each bed with no housekeeping, laundry or food service. Without the families providing these essential functions, patients went without.
I took a leave of absence, without pay, to work in the Mama Yemo Hospital in Kinshasa, (then) Zaire.
It was an experience I will never forget and it taught me to be grateful every time I go to Publix and can buy whatever I need.
Tell us about a setback or challenge you have faced in your personal or professional life, how you overcame it and if it has strengthened your character.
I survived a serious cancer 22 years ago. After the necessary surgeries and treatments, I used a wheelchair for a year, as I resembled an emaciated cadaver.
Building my strength back and returning to my earlier passion of sports has taught me the joys of overcoming adversity, setting long-term goals and never giving up.
What is the single gravest threat facing Palm Beach today and why?
Short term: The serious attrition rate we are witnessing among first responders. The crisis began in 2012 when a different Town Council made some poor decisions. This included cutting starting salaries and benefits as well as adding work hours. The understandable attrition that followed gradually escalated and peaked at 18 percent in 2018 among fire and safety and 22 percent in the police department.
Long-term: The very real danger of sea level rises. In addition to ongoing beach renourishment, we must address the large risk of flooding from the lakeside. The Woods Hole’s summary findings are both informative and alarming. I would like to spearhead a 25-year plan to address this threat and immediately begin by securing those areas we know are most vulnerable.
Why should voters choose you over your opponent in the March 12 election?
First: I have a proven record of hiring and motivating competent staff. The rules are simple: Pay the best salaries, provide the best retirement packages and demand the best performance.
Second: I know how to budget for large construction projects and how to properly monitor the execution to make sure they come in on time and on budget.
Third: I also ran the hospital network I built. I know how to staff startups and ascertain that aggressive but achievable operating budgets are met. The international company I ran was the most profitable part of our global network on a per-bed basis.
Fourth: I have proven leadership skills.