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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: Lake County board District 6
Family: Married, two sons, one granddaughter
Occupation: County Board Member & Forest Preserve Commissioner
Education: BS, Psychology, Loyola University, Chicago
Civic involvement: Vice-President - Grayslake Parks Foundation 2002 - 2006
Member - Sierra Club : 2001 - present
Member - Liberty Prairie Conservancy : 1996 - present
Lifetime Member - Grayslake Historical Society
Member -- Lake County Community Partners for Sustainability: 2009 - present
Trustee - Lake Forest Hospital Board : 2004 - 2009
Elected offices held: Lake County Board Member: 2008 -- present
Vice-Chair -- Revenue, Records & Legislation Committee
Member - Law & Judicial Committee
Member - Planning, Building & Zoning Committee
Member - Ethics Committee
Member - Lake County Partners Board of Governors
Director - Solid Waste Agency of Lake County
Director -- Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency
County Board Representative - SWALCO Recycling Task Force
Forest Preserve Commissioner: 2008 -- present
Vice-Chair -- Finance Committee
Past Chair -- Facilities Committee
Member - Planning & Restoration Committee
Mayor - Village of Grayslake : 1993 - 2001
Chair - Lake County Council of Mayors
Vice-Chair - CLCJAWA
Officer - Lake County Municipal League
Trustee - Village of Grayslake : 1989 - 1993
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: no
Key Issue 1
Jobs and Taxes
I believe the biggest issue facing most people today is the economy, evidenced by fewer jobs and high taxes.
A healthy economy is important to our quality of life. Employment opportunities allow everyone to meet the needs of their families.
Keeping jobs in the County cuts down on travel times and increases the tax base, helping our schools and decreasing the burden on homeowners.
I currently serve on the Board of Lake County Partners, the economic development arm of the County.
As a former economic development professional, I know what it takes to recruit and retain businesses, and through Partners, I work with municipalities and Lake County corporations to retain existing and bring new jobs to the County.
We have achieved some successes in recent years, including the FedEx and Cornerstone projects in Grayslake. I have supported the use of incentives when they result in a positive benefit to the community in new jobs and increased tax base, but only if they also demonstrate a financial benefit to our schools and other taxing bodies.
While increased economic development can help to lessen the property tax burden on residents, we also need to control spending to keep the County's tax burden as low as possible.
I have voted in favor of more than $17M in cuts in the County Budget between 2009 and 2012.
I refused a raise voted on by Members prior to my joining the Board and donated the amount of the raise back to the County.
I serve as Vice-Chair of the Forest Preserve Finance Committee, where I have been a strong voice for fiscally conservative policies that have resulted in reduced expenditures, decreasing our operating budget by 5.5% in the 2011/2012 fiscal year, and that have also kept our tax rate as low as possible.
Key Issue 2
One of the key issues affecting our quality of life in Lake County is traffic congestion, and central Lake County is particularly hard hit.
In the past three years, I have supported several key road projects including the proposed Route 120 Bypass and the expansion of Route 21.
These projects will bring great benefit to our part of the County. When the Board adopted a resolution supporting the Route 53 extension, I offered a successful amendment that added language solidifying the County's position that any proposed Route 53 project would not only solve the traffic problems in the proposed corridor, but also minimize impact on the environment, include a transit component, and operate effectively with the proposed Route 120 Boulevard Bypass.
At this time, we need to focus on getting a decision on the Route 53 project, so that we can plan for both that north/south improvement, as well as the much needed east/west relief that will come from the Route 120 Bypass.
While we wait on a decision on Route 120 and Route 53, we need to continue to work aggressively with the State to improve our local roads and intersections wherever possible.
I have voted in support of the expansion of Washington Street from Grayslake to Hainesville and will also work with Lake County DOT and IDOT to focus on necessary improvements to the Hainesville Road & Route 120 intersection.
Key Issue 3
Environment - The Greening of Lake County
My commitment to the environment underlies everything I do.
In the past three years, I brought a strong environmental focus to my work on the County Board, supporting increased recycling, reasonable alternative energy regulations, and sustainable approaches to County operations.
I led the fight against including incineration in the County's 2009 Solid Waste Plan, instead shifting the focus to increasing recycling.
I served on the SWALCO Recycling Task Force, which recently completed a year and half of work, resulting in a plan to increase Lake County's recycling rate from 38% to 60%.
We are now beginning work within the County and with all municipalities to implement the Plan.
As a member of the Community Partners for Sustainability, organized through the College of Lake County, I have worked with others to focus on sustainable agriculture, sustainable development, green economic development and other initiatives.
Sustainability is of key importance throughout Lake County, not only to government, but also to our schools, to our businesses and to our residents.
I believe the County needs to be a leader in this area, working with the College of Lake County and other entities to promote sustainability projects that reduce costs, add jobs, and protect our environment for our children and grandchildren.
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?
In 2008, I said that one of the biggest challenges facing the County would be declining revenues and increasing costs of services from 2008 and beyond.
Motor fuel taxes, sales taxes and other revenues traditionally received from the State did decrease significantly starting in 2008.
In response to this situation, the County has cut non-essential services and reduced head count, resulting in a reduction of almost $17M in the 2012 budget compared to the 2009 budget.
We have also achieved efficiencies through energy conservation projects, staff realignment, process improvement and implementation of new technologies.
Going forward we need to continue that same approach: fund essential services first, working with revenues available to us, and always adopt a balanced budget.
On the Forest Preserve side, we have also maintained balanced budgets, even though we have experienced a significant drop in property tax revenue over the past few years.
We have focused on reducing operating costs wherever possible.
As a member of the Planning & Restoration and the Finance Committees, I am involved in discussions of proposed improvements to newly acquired preserves.
As we consider these improvements, we focus on any potential increase in operating costs.
As a result, we have deferred some improvements and decided to land bank the property for the near term until the economy improves.
I believe we need to continue this approach for the foreseeable future.
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?
I have consistently believed that the best use of this land is as open space, accessible to all County residents. However, acknowledging that there is a deed restriction on the property that calls for a golf course, over the past three years we have explored alternatives that might allow us to meet that deed restriction and construct a golf course, yet do so in a manner which is fiscally responsible to all Lake County Forest Preserve taxpayers.
At this time, we have received no responses to our request for proposals to build a golf course and I believe the time has come to sit down with the Army and Fort Sheridan home owners with the goal of renegotiating the agreement.
The Forest Preserve operates its golf courses on the premise that they pay their way.
We do not fund them with taxpayer revenues.
Therefore, I do not believe it is reasonable to expect the District, in these challenging economic times, to commit to a business initiative that can not cover its costs.
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.
I am familiar with privatization, having worked with the approach as Mayor of Grayslake for eight years, and I am open to the concept.
However, I believe at the County & Forest Preserve District, it has less applicability.
In my mind, privatization works best when the work load varies over time, so that having a full-time staff on board becomes inefficient, or when the work is so specialized it is impractical to have a specific skill set on staff.
We have had instances at both the County and the District where we have contracted out for specialized or as-needed services.
I have supported these initiatives and would continue to seriously review any opportunities to reduce operating costs.
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?
The biggest missing link in District 6 is adequate roads.
We have seen significant relief with the widening of RT 45 over the past few years, a project I worked towards when I was Mayor of Grayslake in the 1990s.
However, even after completion of an extensive planning process for the RT 120 Bypass, that project is stalled awaiting a decision on the RT 53 extension.
We need to move both of these projects to a decision as quickly as possible.
Both RT 120 and RT 53 will be very high dollar projects.
While I would hope to secure federal and State funds for the projects, significant funding will almost certainly need to be provided through user fees.
While we wait on a decision on RT 120 and RT 53, we need to continue to work aggressively through the Lake County DOT and with the State to improve our local roads and intersections wherever possible.
Examples include the expansion of Washington Street between Grayslake and Hainesville, as well as necessary improvements to the Hainesville & RT 120 intersection.
Should the county continue to pursue open space policies' Why or why not?
Yes, I believe the Forest Preserve District should continue to acquire and improve preserves.
In 2008, the overwhelming majority of Lake County residents voted in favor of a referendum for land acquisition and preserve improvements.
In the three years since that vote of support, the District has acquired 2,730 acres.
The per acre cost of these properties has been lower than it would have been five years ago and land costs continue to be low, resulting in the ability to stretch the taxpayers' dollars approved in the 2008 referendum.
While focus is often on acquiring significant acreage to create a new preserve or add to an existing one, I also believe we need to look at acquiring smaller parcels in the more urban areas in the County to provide exposure to natural environments to as many residents as possible.
The District's bike trails have become increasingly popular as we add to the system.
I have long been an advocate for bike trails, having worked on the first Bike Trail system in Grayslake back in the early 1990's, and I believe we should continue to work closely with municipalities and the County to create new trails, as well as connections between existing ones.
Today the District owns 29, 556 acres, which is approximately 9.8% of the land in Lake County.
This is still short of Cook and DuPage counties, which each have more than 11% of their land preserved.
The residents of Lake County have repeatedly voiced and voted their support for open space in Lake County in the form of Forest Preserves.
While residential growth may have slowed in the County in the past few years, it will come back.
Having significant open spaces in the form of Forest Preserves will forever enhance the quality of life for Lake County residents.