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updated: 2/10/2012 4:25 PM

Cristina Castro: Candidate Profile

Kane County Board District 20 (Democrat)

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  • Cristina Castro, running for Kane County Board District 20

      Cristina Castro, running for Kane County Board District 20

 

 

 

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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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Elgin

Website: http://www.castroforkane.org

Office sought: Kane County Board District 20

Age: 33

Family: Single

Occupation: Marketing

Education: Master of Business Administration, Northern Illinois University, 2009 Bachelor of Science in Marketing, Northern Illinois University, 2001 Associate in Science, Elgin Community College, 1998

Civic involvement: Board member, Black History Family Festival, 2010 - Present Commissioner, City of Elgin Zoning and Subdivision Hearing Board, 2005- 2008 President, Elgin Hispanic Network, 2005-2008 Board Member, City of Elgin Centre Advisory Board, 2004-2005

Elected offices held: Commissioner, Kane County Board, 2008-Present

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Fiscal Responsibility

Key Issue 2

Improving Public Services

Key Issue 3

Economic Development

Questions & Answers

Do you support a more stringent ethics ordinance for Kane County governing the conduct of elected officials and county employees' Why or why not? If so, what should the ordinance contain?

Yes, elected officials need to set the bar high for ethics and accountability.

The Kane County Board passed an ethics ordinance in 2010; many of us were very disappointed to learn that some of it was unenforceable. However, we can build on our work to date.

I would strongly support limiting contributions from people who do business with the county, or those appointed to serve on a board, commission, authority or task force.

The county's portion of gambling proceeds has been decreasing every year for several years. What is your plan to prioritize use of that money? What might be done to wean the agencies and programs that receive this money off of it?

Kane County receives 7.5 percent of the net operating income to fund the Riverboat Grant Program. With state funding for various organizations either eliminated or reduced, requests for funds have increased along with the dollar amount requested. Typically, this amount is more than what Kane County can fund. The shrinking riverboat dollars means the County Board will need to find other solutions for funding some of its programs without impacting our taxpayers, or having to cut programs all together.

With state grant money unavailable and riverboat funds slowly dissipating, the Judicial and Public Safety Committee, which I served on, passed a $10 fee that was added onto all speeding tickets and petty offenses. The money is used to fund the child advocacy center, which serves as an advocate for neglected and abused children in the court system. This is one example where the board has begun to evaluate and wean programs off riverboat funds.

This approach will not work every time; other solutions are necessary. We need to evaluate all county expenditures and determine whether individual appropriations meet current needs. The county also needs to evaluate community funding requests. For example, the current $100,000 ceiling should be reduced to $50,000.

With the opening of the new Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and the push to increase the number of casinos in the state of Illinois, riverboat funds will continue to drop and we will need to readjust the mission of the Riverboat grant.

Do you believe the Kane County court system needs a computer system upgrade that might cost as much as $12.6 million? If so, do you support using RTA sales tax money to fund the cost, or do you have a different plan? If not, what is your alternative plan?

After evaluating the current court management system, I agree it is time to seriously consider investing in a new computer system, which could ultimately pay for itself by reducing labor costs.

It is important that all areas of the judicial system -- from the circuit clerk to the judges to the state's attorney's office -- are operating at peak efficiency. In addition, a new system would also help to report accurate numbers to the State of Illinois, which would result in Kane County getting more state dollars. Currently, these numbers are being calculated by hand, an inefficient use of staff time.

I am not in favor, however, of spending $12.6 million for a computer system upgrade -- especially during these bad economic times. Developing our own system, with help from our current vendor or DuPage County (which developed their own system) would be preferable.

To fund the system, RTA sales tax money would be an appropriate option. We must be mindful, during these trying times for our county and our state, that taxpayers are ?tightening their belts' and expect us to do the same.

Do you believe county board members and the chairman should receive health insurance and pension benefits' If you are running for one of those positions, do you plan on accepting those benefits' Why or why not?

I have never accepted Kane County's health insurance benefits and this practice will not change.

As to the pension benefits, I currently pay into the pension system as a member of the board and plan to do so when re-elected. I ran for office because I believe I can help my community, NOT to collect benefits.

How do you resolve the ongoing debate over the county board setting budgets for departments run by other elected officials whom the county board has no control over? How should the county board enforce the budgets it sets'

As stated previously, we ALL have to be mindful of the tax dollars we spend during these tough times. Elected officials and the board need to improve the lines of communication between one another in addition to working with one another to help address budget challenges. This lack of teamwork along with the constant mistrust of one another partially led to the Circuit Clerk's lawsuit against the county costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Kane County residents expect the board and elected officials to work together to solve budget challenges and to set reasonable budgets for each area to work within.

The county board can enforce the budgets it sets for each official by not approving items requested that had not been budget for that calendar year. The elected official would then have to find the money in their own budget or hold off on pursuing it. There are some exceptions to such a policy but those should be looked at on case by case basis.

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