Kane County Board District 15 candidates square off on issues
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Two candidates are running for election to represent District 15 in the Kane County Board of Trustees.
Democrat Kay Catlin is challenging incumbent Barb Wojnicki, a Republican. Both are from St. Charles.
The Daily Herald asked Catlin and Wojnicki to respond to some questions about key issues. Here is what they had to say.
Q. What is your number one campaign issue?
Catlin. The economy, as evidenced by ongoing foreclosures, the number of for sale homes currently on the market, high unemployment rates and business closures in Kane County.
Wojnicki. Creation of jobs in Kane County Kane County secured $35 million in recovery bonds $17 million will be used to alleviate flooding in the rural areas and for sewer and water improvements and $18 million will be used for economic stimulus projects. The Kane County Board has been proactive in securing these recovery bonds and the dollars will help create jobs in our county.
Q. What is your number two campaign issue?
Catlin. District 15's lack of leadership, influence, relevance and stature on the County Board as evidenced by our inability to recoup our fair of tax benefits (among other measures).
Wojnicki. Budget restraints and being a watchdog for wasteful spending. This will help to maintain Kane County's excellent AA+ bond rating.
Q. What is your number three campaign issue?
Catlin. District 15's lack of progress when it comes to effective management of natural resources, i.e. current and future water supplies, unresolved flooding/drainage issues and maintenance of public/private open space.
Wojnicki. Ethics reform, and I am proud to be one of the leaders that brought forward the landmark Ethics Ordinance.
Q. What is your view of the use of red light cameras? Should Kane County continue to issue permits for them? If so, what should be the qualifying criteria?
Catlin. In theory, red light cameras are used to reduce accidents/improved safety, goals I applaud. Unfortunately, the technology involved has not been perfected. Consequently, definite and costly fines can be based on arbitrary infractions, including (but not limited to) lights set to change too quickly. I speak from experience on this point, having been "caught["] ($90 fine) by a quickset Cook County camera. Had I stopped, I most assuredly would have caused an accident. Therefore, until and unless the technology needed can be standardized and the program can be proven beneficial in reducing accidents, I would not support issuing any permits.
Wojnicki. I am opposed to red light cameras and their use as a revenue source.
Q. How should video gambling revenue be utilized in Kane County?
Catlin. Video gambling revenues should be used to support the same kinds of projects and programs as are currently supported by designated casino revenues, namely in the areas of economic development, the environment and education.
This system has worked well in the past by supporting a variety of programs/services, which might otherwise go un- or underfunded. In some cases (the Kane County Child Advocacy Center being one), even mandated programs have benefited, thus providing taxpayers direct benefit.
Wojnicki. Video gaming was an agenda item on May 11, 2010, and my vote was "NO["] to expanded gambling. The gambling revenue income will be under $200,000 and the proposed use for this revenue is for infrastructure and transportation.
Q. What is the appropriate level of service the Kane County Health Department should provide? Was downsizing the department the right move?
Catlin. Had I been on the board, I would have supported the transition of services to the participating FQHC/social service agencies. Having said that, I would have also added my personal commitment to making sure the new system works and works well.
This would be an extension of my advocacy on behalf of health care services and programs in Kane County for the past 20 years literally. With the exception of board member Gerald Jones, there is no private citizen or government official who has monitored and/or worked on public health issues more or longer than I. I'm proud to say my efforts were even recognized by the Health Department when I received a Hidden Hero of Public Health Award in 2000.
As I stated at a recent meeting of the Public Health Committee, the reason the Health Department began offering many of the to-be transferred programs/services in the first place was because no one was providing them at the time. It should be noted, that was before the FQHCs were established.
Now that we have these federal facilities, it is my hope that this transition will be smooth. If it isn't, I will be all over the issue, whether I am elected or not.
Wojnicki. My vote was "NO["] to downsizing the Kane County Health Department and "NO["] to moving social services to the VNA, Aunt Martha's and Greater Elgin. The Kane County Board received nothing in writing from the state of Illinois stating funding would cease for the Health Department's programs. As a result of downsizing, more than 62 Public Health employees will be laid off.
Q. The county board sets budgets for departments run by other elected officials whom the board has no control over. How should the county board enforce the budgets it sets for these officials?
Catlin. Let me begin by saying I was appalled by recent media reports indicating it is "legal["] for the county to sue its own elected officials. It may be legal but, in my opinion, it is also 100 percent counterproductive and fiscally stupid.
As I understand the issue, elected officials who have "internal controls["] can't, by state statute, be "controlled["] by the county board. Furthermore, I was under the impression the issue of elected officials and internal controls was already settled by court ruling during the '80s when then Circuit Clerk Jan Carlson sued the county, confirming the principle of internal controls for certain elected officials.
It would seem to me that instead of wasting everyone's time, money and energy with lawsuits, the prudent thing to do would be to work toward changing the state statutes.
In the interim, it would behoove elected officials who can't meet their budgets to eliminate non-mandated programs or services (See next answer).
Wojnicki. First of all, the budget must be realistic, especially in areas of public safety for our communities. Communication and fostering a good working relationship, that include mutual respect between the county board and other elected officials, is essential.
Q. Name a specific area of the county budget in which you can support a reduction. Also, what new revenue generator(s) would you support?
Catlin. Cuts should not be limited to any one area, but be implemented across the board based on the following premise:
Without a doubt, there is an ever-expanding disconnect between the services taxpayers want and the taxes they're willing to pay for them. Whether we like it or not, in order to decrease taxes, we must be willing to decrease services.
Given that line of thinking, I believe the Health Department has done what every other department must also do determine what programs and services are/are not mandated and adjust their budgets accordingly. As draconian as it may sound, the reality is anything other than mandated services are "extras["]. If taxpayers don't want to pay for them, these extras should be eliminated.
Aside from the above, I think the county should stop playing "Kick the Can["] when it comes to passing the responsibility of governing to outside "experts["], lobbyists or paid consultants. Elected officials were elected to make decisions and not hire out their responsibilities.
Additionally, I think that there should be no more monetary promotions for anyone, including those who serve in administration.
If new revenue generators were that easy to identify, I suppose they would have been found by now. That said, I believe our best options include seeking out all available grant options as well as any/all in-demand services which can be offered on a fee-for-service-plus-profit basis.
Wojnicki. Kane County Board needs to continue its freeze on new hires and work with employees on minimal or no raise policies until these difficult economic times improve. We need to review consultant contracts and do away with the cost of lobbyists. Also, I would like to see the Kane County Board bring back a percent of tax dollars we send to Springfield.
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