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updated: 2/10/2012 4:44 PM

Scott Summers: Candidate Profile

McHenry County board District 6 (Democrat)

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  • Scott Summers, running for McHenry County board District 6

    Scott Summers, running for McHenry County board District 6




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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Harvard


Office sought: McHenry County board District 6

Age: 62

Family: Wife and two children.

Occupation: Attorney and author (two books published by the American Bar Association)

Education: Juris Doctor (J.D.), Northern Illinois University, 1985 MBA, Northwestern Univ., Kellogg School of Management, 1976 BA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1971 United States Merchant Marine Academy (no degree)

Civic involvement: Member, Harvard Community Memorial Hospital board, 1980-82; member, McHenry County Welfare Services Committee, 1982-84 (both appointments by McHenry County Board.) Former treasurer of three nonprofits (former Harvard Hospital; former Hospice for McHenry County; a church in Woodstock.) Former scout leader.

Elected offices held: Trustee, McHenry County College, 2005-2009.

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Jobs, jobs, jobs.

We're three years into the Great Recession --

and the suffering continues.

Far too many of our family members and friends and neighbors remain unemployed.

The tried-and-true methods for stimulating job growth haven't been working very well.

We really need to try some other approaches.

I offer two bold and innovative ideas for putting McHenry County back to work.

The first is 'microcapitalism' -- a multi-agency project to develop home and community-based businesses, utilizing microloans and microgrants.

Using this seed money (plus the ongoing advice of volunteer 'coaches'), the McHenry County Microcapitalism Project will nurture and raise up a new breed of local entrepreneurs.

And these new businesses will 'one job at a time' reinvigorate our economic climate, and infuse our communities with new vitality and prosperity.

I believe that the McHenry County Board also must move job creation on a 'macro' basis.

My second initiative will have the county join with other units of government to acquire the long vacant Motorola plant in Harvard.

We should then market the campus smartly and aggressively across the country and throughout the world.

Let's be realistic:

it's been nearly a decade since Motorola closed.

And if we're not able to find a suitable corporate use for the facility within another few years, then it should be converted to public purposes.

In short -- it's high time that we take our economic destiny into our own hands, and not leave it to chance. The McHenry County Board can help lead the way on both a 'micro' and a 'macro' basis.

Key Issue 2

Fiscal responsibility.

In these difficult economic times, McHenry County must live within its means.

It is imperative that the County Board adopt austerity budgets and enforce fiscal responsibility and accountability.

It also is essential that the county board set the tone -- and style -- for management practices that are, at once, shrewd, smart, and open.

My training in law and business, and my prior experience as an elected official, make me particularly well suited to be a fiscal watchdog and taxpayer advocate on the county board.

Over the shorter term, an exhaustive examination of our county governmental functions will, I believe, lead to improved efficiencies and economies.

Once elected, one of my first priorities will be for the board to retain an outside management consulting firm for evaluation of county governance from top to bottom.

I then expect the board to implement the hard-nosed dollars-and-sense changes that the consultants recommended.

Do we want fewer taxes'

Of course!

But to accomplish this, we must, over the longer term, streamline and reduce the size of government here in McHenry County.

This will require consolidation and closure of some agencies, and the merger of some administrative positions (both elective and appointed).

Advocacy like this is, politically speaking, wildly unpopular.

Even so, I intend to speak frankly and forthrightly about what we must do to slim down government, while simultaneously improving public service delivery.

In short -- as a county board member, I'll do everything in my power to extract one hundred cents of value from each and every tax dollar.

Key Issue 3

Sustainable prosperity.

We all know that McHenry County is a magnificent place in which to live, work, and play.

(That's why we're here!)

But it will take an enormous effort to set (and keep) our McHenry County on a course of sustainable prosperity.

The county board must help point the way.

The underpinning, as we now are coming to understand, is that ECOnomy and ECOlogy really are bound up as one.

Accordingly, we must commit to an 'eco-eco' program of business and development.

We must devise and implement sophisticated styles of transportation and land use that make our communities compact, contiguous, and liveable.

We must harmonize public and private transportation, and shorten commutes.

We must increase use of solar and wind and geothermal technologies.

We must grow more of our food -- and produce more of our goods -- locally.

We must provide one another with education and health care.

And we must invest in one of the most precious things of all:

our future.

In other words, we're stewards -- not transients.

The choices we make for McHenry County today should be seen, at least in part, as gifts for the generations that follow.

This is where we want to go.

And this is where the county board must lead.

Questions & Answers

McHenry County has managed the recession without a budgetary crisis like those in other counties. How do you ensure the county continues on that path and that reserves aren't depleted? Are there specific budget areas that need more attention?

The county is to be commended for attaining sound financial footing.

In order to maintain our course, austerity is the watchword.

And hard-as-nails management is the style.

Personnel costs are, by far, the largest component of the county budget.

I believe that employee benefits need to be gradually restructured.

The county's new commitment to health and wellness programs warrants compliment.

But we also should examine programs like health savings accounts (HSAs), which combine cash set-asides with high deductible major medical insurance.

Information technology (IT) also needs to be reassessed.

The county's hodgepodge of proprietary software needs to be replaced and unified using LINUX-based (i.e., open source) systems.

Does the McHenry County Board have a good transportation improvement plan? Please be specific and suggest whether you think anything is missing or should be scrapped.

Our transportation planning continues to place far too much emphasis on automobiles.

A handout provided to the county board members this past week included a 2012 goal to "advocate for alternative modes of transportation (e.g., paratransit, passenger rail and commuter transit)."


This mindset completely misses the point.

Public transportation is not an alternative -- it's an imperative.

If we really want to reduce congestion and pollution, save money, and encourage fitness, then we need sophisticated transportation and land use plans that encourage people to get out of their cars (as they are able) and onto bicycles and buses and trains, and to walk a few blocks (in places where there are paths or sidewalks!) for short errands. In other words -- we're way overdue to move public transit in McHenry County from being an afterthought to being a priority.

We will improve our livability here enormously if we have more (and better) alternatives to automobiles.

Does the county need to address its ethics policies' Why or why not? If so, how?

New policies won't change much.

But new practices will.

We should continue to strive for openness in county government by streaming public meetings over the internet and putting more documents online.

We should continue to work for campaign finance reform, in the fond hope of someday removing private money from public elections.

Assess McHenry County's efforts thus far in terms of groundwater preservation and protection. What needs to be done now and in the future?

I am deeply concerned that we are drawing down some of our aquifers at unsustainable rates.

The McHenry County Water Resources Action Plan (WRAP) and the forthcoming unified development ordinance (UDO) are helpful.

But in the southern and eastern portions in the county in particular, we need to embark on rigorous water usage and conservation practices.

Assess how the county health department approached the whooping cough outbreak. What should have been done differently?

I believe that all of the actions taken by our public health professionals (e.g., public service announcements and vaccination clinics) were both timely and appropriate.