Q1 The County Board recently voted to increase its tax levy, thereby raising property taxes for county residents. Do/did you support that decision? Explain.
While the politically popular answer is being against the levy, I voted in favor of it and stand behind that vote. The majority of the board was in favor of taking the levy during budget discussions, and it was at the last minute that some changed their minds. Changing course the night before a vote and two weeks before the start of our fiscal year jeopardizes good fiscal planning. For the estimated $4-$8 average home impact, we can:
- Have a balanced budget
- Address the unfunded mandate of adding two new judges
- Respond to the overall uncertainty of costs from the Bianchi investigation/trial
- Special prosecutors
- Bianchi attorneys
- Future costs for the upcoming suit against special prosecutors
- Respond to losses in state funding
- Address frivolous lawsuits against other elected officials
Moving forward, a task force will address key budget items early in the process to ensure a smoother process.
Q2 What are your top ideas for reducing the cost of running county government?
In a cooperative effort, cuts have been made where warranted, and today McHenry County has 50 fewer employees than in 2009. I am also actively working with legislators on government agency consolidation efforts. More than $1 million was saved when the County transitioned to self-funded insurance, and unless a position is needed for health/safety, we’re not filling vacant positions. We delay purchases and modify programs when possible, and when renegotiating contracts, we are fair to union/non-union employees while keeping an eye on the County’s limited dollars. We also rely on technology to reduce the need for new staff. As a result, McHenry County balances its budget every year and maintains a fund balance for emergencies. This financial footing is rare, and McHenry County serves as a model of good governance that other counties strive to emulate. McHenry County has earned the prestigious Aaa bond rating, which the highest rating available.
Q3 Do you support a proposal to place meeting attendance information of County Board members on the county website? Why or why not?
Meeting attendance information is already available in all meeting minutes, and all minutes are available on line. Board members attend many meetings, as board members, as official committee members, as members of other unofficial committees, and as liaisons. While I am not opposed to an attendance tracking system, the matrix should include all standing committee, special committee, ad-hoc committee, liaison assignments, etc. It also must not place an undue burden on existing employee’s time. An incomplete matrix, like the one that is currently posted on the county web site, has the potential to produce an inaccurate portrayal of a board member’s dedication to his/her role. Another consideration is the quality of each board member’s participation. What constitutes going to a meeting? Simply showing up? Showing up unprepared? Showing up and then leaving early? All are important considerations that create a full picture of an individual’s job commitment.
Q4 A majority of the County Board rejected the idea of imposing term limits via referendum on the board chairperson and vice chairman. What is your opinion on term limits for leadership positions?
I am not in favor of term limits. Leadership positions for the McHenry County Board, whether they are for chairman, vice chairman, committee chair or committee vice chairman, are voted upon every two years by the full county board. I believe an individual should be judged by the job they are doing and by whether or not they have been fair, have shown an ability to work with all kinds of personalities to create board consensus, and whether or not they have successfully executed the duties of the position. Especially for the role of Chairman, there are many relationships at the local, state and national level that must be cultivated and nurtured over time, so that McHenry County receives due consideration when funding for capital projects becomes available. There is a process in place for removing a poor leader, and that process may be utilized every two years.
Q5 What can the County Board do to promote job growth in McHenry County?
Tax rates, prevailing wage, and workman’s and unemployment compensation are significant deterrents for businesses considering locating in Illinois vs. other states. We must provide incentives through tax credits and expansion programs to attract these businesses. In addition, we must continue working with the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation to RETAIN existing businesses and respond quickly and effectively to any business inquiries from companies exploring relocation to this area. We must also continue working with international coalitions to bring foreign assembly jobs to McHenry County. I believe infrastructure improvements are the key. We are currently working to expand fiber optics to improve county-wide bandwidth as a selling point for business retention, expansion, and relocation. Additionally, when state/federal funding becomes available, we must have shovel-ready projects available that will add temporary construction jobs and eventual permanent business jobs. As we improve our infrastructure, we improve our chances of attracting new employers.
Q6 What recent decision by the County Board do you most disagree with? Why?
As Chairman of the County Board, it is my sworn duty to execute the policies adopted by the county board, whether I agree with them or not. The committee process for decisions and recommendations has served the people of McHenry County well, providing for substantial citizen input during all levels of deliberations. There have been times during my tenure on the board when I have voted with the minority, but as chairman I have always executed board policy when directed to do so. Aside from a few zoning issues over the last year, there have been no major board decisions with which I have strongly disagreed.
Q7 Illinois by far has the most units of government in the U.S., at enormous cost to taxpayers. Would you support consolidating some of these governmental units? Be specific in explaining your answer.
I absolutely support the consolidation of some units of government, and recognize that any consolidation would require action by the General Assembly. I am actively working with legislators for the possible consolidation of some Regional Superintendent offices. McHenry County has been without a Regional Superintendent for many months and Lake County’s Regional Superintendent has been incredibly helpful. It appears the two offices could be combined. I also see potential for consolidation in county coroner offices and would like to see those offices combined on a regional basis with two or three counties relying on one medical examiner. McHenry County already looks for opportunities to share costs, such as when the county as a whole responded to last year’s widespread power outages and to last winter’s snow issues. Townships, municipalities and the county worked together and created savings through joint purchases, sharing of manpower and through an overall economy of scale.
Q8 Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I am fiscally conservative with a degree in Accounting from NIU. I successfully owned and operated a business for most of my life, and with 40+ years as a public servant, I understand the complexity of county issues. It is this experience that allows me to make necessary decisions to assess county policy and strategically reform budget demands in this declining economy. Under my administration, the county earned the prestigious Aaa bond rating, a rating that very few counties in Illinois and in the Nation enjoy. This bond rating allows us to borrow money at the lowest-possible interest rates, which benefits taxpayers. As Chairman, I have made many trips to Washington D.C. and Springfield and have worked successfully with state and federal legislators to obtain funds for major road and groundwater protection projects. If reelected, I will continue to unselfishly serve to enhance the quality of life in McHenry County.