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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.
Office sought: McHenry County board District 4
Family: After 5 years as a single dad, in May 2010 married Paige Soule, Lake Bluff Elementary and Middle School District Librarian. Together we have two sons, Jim from my first marriage, age 14 and Peter, Paige's adopted son from Haiti, age 4
Occupation: Illinois and Wisconsin Licensed Professional Engineer
Education: BA Communications, Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois
Civic involvement: McHenry County Board of Health Appointee, 1999-2011
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: None
Key Issue 1
Reducing the tax burden on residential homeowners.
Key Issue 2
Improving transportation infrastructure to enhance the corporate business climate.
Key Issue 3
Mandating availability and choice of high-speed internet providers throughout the county.
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 practice of placing the majority of the general fund tax revenue burden on residential homeowners puts the county in a precarious position. Home foreclosures are on the rise and the unfavorable tax assessments compel prospective homeowners to seek options outside of the county. Without supplemental tax revenue sources like corporate taxes, reserves are likely to dwindle in the near future.
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.
The county's Division of Transportation currently follows a band-aid approach to infrastructure improvement, attempting to revamp and utilize existing low capacity roadways with limited available right-of-ways to address needs as they arise. As is evidenced by the Flemming Road and Johnsburg Road issues, this approach only serves to aggravate communities inconvenienced by the improvements and increased traffic. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on providing comprehensive transportation alternatives that do not adversely impact on existing communities as well as increasing interstate highway access to entice location of businesses within the county.
Does the county need to address its ethics policies' Why or why not? If so, how?
Two issues come to mind regarding ethics and the county board. The first issue is the mishandling of the alleged activities in the state's attorney's office. Better safeguards and whistle-blower provisions should be in place wherever there is county staff working for elected officials. The second issue regards the violation of the open meetings act which took place when county board members were meeting to discuss county business outside of a regular meeting. Additional open meetings act training should be mandated and a minimum time for the public to review resolutions and ordinances prior to ratification should be established.
Assess McHenry County's efforts thus far in terms of groundwater preservation and protection. What needs to be done now and in the future?
While I was on the Board of Health, the Department first undertook to study the availability of groundwater resources and prepare a plan for conservation. This was motivated by two factors. First, the increasing number of private wells installed during the housing boom. Second, the number of municipalities installing additional wells which impact the water levels within the aquifers. The latter was of greater concern since municipal water supplies are discharged into water courses that do not recharge aquifers locally. Alternatives to watercourse discharge of municipal waste water, such as land application, need to be explored and implemented. Also, steps need to be taken to improve the flow of information from the IEPA when groundwater contamination is discovered.
Assess how the county health department approached the whooping cough outbreak. What should have been done differently?
Having thorough experience with the department, I would say the situation was handled rather well, however there is always room for improvement. Communication was the most important factor of the department's response. This allowed possibly infected persons to become aware of the symptoms and seek treatment instead of presuming what they had was just a cold.