Rick Lesser: Candidate Profile
Lake County board District 13
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
City: Lake Bluff
Office sought: Lake County board District 13
Family: Wife Terry and four children: Emelia, Veronica, Bryan, and Dorena
Occupation: Small Business Owner and Attorney
Education: B.A. in American Histroy, University of Illinois, 1976 J.D., University of Michigan, 1980
Civic involvement: President, Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce President, Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Rotary Club President, Lake County Bar Association President, Lake County Bar Foundation President, Lake County Estate Planning Council President, Deerfield Optimist Club
Elected offices held: Trustee, Lake Bluff Village Board
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
#1: Attract More Businesses to Lake County to Create Jobs Businesses, especially small businesses, are our partners and we must work with them to help them develop and create jobs for our talented Lake County residents. We can create an environment where these businesses can thrive as we encourage and support them. As a small business owner having created over 20 jobs, I have the experience necessary to continue this important work and attract job creators to Lake County.
Key Issue 2
#2: Bring Another Fiscally Responsible Voice to the County Board Lake County has a tradition of fiscal conservatism and responsible government, and that must continue. Our AAA financial rating was earned through responsible spending, balanced budgets, consistent saving, smart investing, and exceptional transparency. I am dedicated to the same principles. As a business owner, the former President of my local Chamber of Commerce, a former Village Trustee from my hometown, and the former President of the Lake County Bar Association, I have been tested time and again on my fiscal principles, and each time I've proven my unwavering dedication to fiscal responsibility.
Key Issue 3
#3: Give a Voice at the County to Every Citizen in the 13th District It is important that every single community in the 13th District is represented fully on the Lake County Board. I promise to be fully accessible to you, and to faithfully serve you with integrity. I'm not a politician, I'm a small business owner and a member of our community. I would be honored to be your voice and advocate as that's what I've done my entire career as a representative of individuals and small businesses.
The county remains in the black, but property taxes across the region are high. Should programs be cut to save taxpayers money? If so, which ones and why?
Absolutely. This needs to be a culture that continues to be cultivated, one that respects every tax dollar that is collected from our residents. Specifically, we can merge the Forest Preserve Police with the Lake County Sheriff's Department, resulting in cost savings. We should also get out of the business of doing things that are not core county services, such as running golf courses or nursing homes.
What should be done with the Fort Sheridan golf course? If no building or management proposals come back from vendors, do you propose abandoning golf? If so, are you concerned about a lawsuit? If you propose building a course, how should it be funded?
The County agreed to build a golf course but the course would lose money for the foreseeable future, which is why no vendors bid on the project. The homeowners at Fort Sheridan are entitled to be paid the difference between the value of their homes with a golf course and the value of their homes without a golf course, because they bought under the premise that a golf course would be built and this is what they would be awarded if they sued and won. Before making a decision, the County should learn what this difference is, and if it is much less than what would be lost on a golf course each year, which I expect it will be, then the County should negotiate with the homeowners' association and reach an agreement.
The Winchester House nursing home recently was turned over to a private company for operation. Should other county or forest district departments be privatized to save taxpayers money? Please explain.
Privatization of services should be pursued wherever cost savings can be found, but only in situations where service remains steady or improves. In Lake Bluff, we privatized garbage pickup. The same employees were hired by the private contractor, meaning that no one lost their job as a result of this privatization, but the Village saved over $300,000 per year. There may be many such services on a county level that could be privatized, and we should actively seek those opportunities out.
Is there a specific type of service or amenity that is lacking in your district? If so, how do you propose to provide and fund that?
District 13 has a large area that is unincorporated and therefore under the County zoning code (UDO). The code is antiquated and requires businesses to seek special use permits and other permissions in order to operate. These are both time-consuming and expensive, stifling new and small businesses and potentially resulting in lost jobs. The County should streamline the process, change special uses to permitted uses, and reduce the costs for zoning change applications.
Should the county continue to pursue open space policies' Why or why not?
The County has done a magnificent job in acquiring open lands. Due to the difficult economic times, right now we ought to concentrate on how to use the already-acquired land (active uses v. passive uses) and only acquire more lands when the additional parcels are needed to complement the existing areas.
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