Chris Lauzen: Candidate Profile
Kane County Board Chairman
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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: Kane County Board Chairman
Family: Married to wife, Sarah, for 30 years with four sons: USMC Capt Ted (Sarah) Lauzen, Marine Corps pilot; Elliot Lauzen, investment banking analyst, William Blair & Co; US Navy Ensign Hans Lauzen, deployed onboard USS Kidd; Rob Lauzen, Dartmouth College.
Occupation: Tax Specialist/Financial Advisor; Illinois State Senator for past 19 years
Education: Duke University, BS with honors Management Science & English, 1974 University of Illinois, Certified Public Accountant, 1976 Harvard University, Master of Business Education, 1978 NIU, Candidate for Doctorate in Education Finance, coursework completed
Civic involvement: Sons of the American Legion Compassion Foundation Board of Directors Heart of Illinois POW/MIA Association IL Republican National Hispanic Assembly Geneva Lions Club Harvard Business School Old Boy Rugby Team Fox Valley Maoris Rugby Team
Elected offices held: Initial election to Illinois State Senate, November, 1992 Reelection by wide margins 1996, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2010
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
Freeze the property tax levy for the County, Forest Preserve, and (indirectly through appointments) Fox Valley Park District.
With property values going down while property taxes are going up, we are being taxed out of our homes.
The status quo on increasing taxes must be reformed.
Key Issue 2
Restore trust in public service by treating all people with respect, not just insiders, and reducing the impact of money in local politics.
There is way too much money ($1,483,000 for just two elections cycles!) flowing into the political fund of this current office to believe that there is no expectation of systematic political influence to be gained.
No matter what the reality might be, there is a public perception (and disapproval of) a culture of cronyism.
The status quo must be reformed. (For suggested solutions, go to answer under 'ethics ordinance' question.)
Key Issue 3
Honest, competent administration of county business through innovation and austerity.
Increase Kane County citizens' wealth through more jobs paying higher wages in the private economy, reducing the costs of living in the county, i.e. property taxes, mortgage interest, utilities and transportation expenses, and dramatically increasing the use of best practices from around the world to improve the quality of life for residents.
The status quo is not a high enough standard of performance and must be reformed.
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?
Ethics ordinances without teeth are like snow tires without treads for traction.
There is a strong public perception that $1.5 Million of campaign contributions into the political fund for this office over the past two election cycles and a definitely 'cozy' correlation between contributions and contracts, jobs and other favors have created a county culture of cronyism.
(See Daily Herald, Jim Fuller article on 2-9-2010 ?Kane Official Says No Pay-to-Play, But Banks Big Bucks from Vendors', Kane County example was also referred to by Illinois Campaign for Political Reform).
Suggestions to be included in meaningful reforms:
Voluntary refusal of any contributions from 'no-bid' contractors and their family members.
48-hour disclosure on county website of contributions in excess of $150 from any contractor, employee or person who brings issues before adjudicating boards (or family members).
Adoption of a 'searchable database? system similar to the one DuPage County Treasurer and CPA Grogan has put in place and offered to other counties at no charge.
Expand the Ethics Officer position from one person to a three-person panel to investigate complaints, consisting of two representatives from the majority party and one from the minority party so that every constituent has access to what is discussed in ethics meetings.
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?
Zero-based Reality Budgeting
Not only is gambling revenue decreasing, but some mandated payroll-related expenses are going through the roof.
During a preliminary committee-of-the-whole 5-hour long budget presentation, I was impressed by many county board members' conscientious participation and directors' competence, however there was no mention of the fastest growing expense, i.e. pensions at a 10-year annual compounded growth rate of 22%.
Anything increasing at this pace will swamp the boat in short order.
My intention is to personally join with the other county chairmen (i.e. former senator, colleague, and current DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin, Lake, McHenry, Will, Kendall, et al.) to continue my work of pushing legislation to relieve the pressure on property taxpayers regarding pension payments, as well as managing headcount and no salary spikes.
The calculation of priorities for grants from riverboat gambling will need to be a kind of explicit ?utilitarian? formula, i.e. what spending will do the most good to effectively help the most people with the most serious needs. . . spread in a geographically sensitive way. . .to serve the entire county.
Not easy, but starts with a lot of patient listening and discernment.
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?
Certainly needs upgrade, but not $12.6M.
I have been told by three credible sources that our computer has essentially the same hardware capabilities as the computer system used by DuPage County system . . . with essentially the same foundational software . . . doing essentially similar functions. . . serving even more people than we do.
In layman's terms, I have been told that DuPage bought the software upgrades and has done the programming needed to meet that county's demands, but we have not.
I picked up the phone a couple of months ago and asked Dan Cronin (DuPage County Chairman who used to sit next to me for several years in the State Senate) if we could piggyback on his investment to get the job done and reduce the cost to our taxpayers.
He said, "Sure, happy to help."
Once we get caught up, I would anticipate collaborating with similar hardware and software for similar county functions but spreading the expense over at least 1.25M people, rather than our 500,000, in order to save taxpayers' money.
This will be a mutual decision made by the county board, its chairman, and next circuit clerk.
I have already received general agreement from one candidate for circuit clerk.
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?
Although this controversy will not be the first priority that I will tackle, if nominated and elected, my candid answer is ?yes' on a steamlined hospitalization benefit and ?no? on pension.
Health insurance is a form of current compensation along with salary for today's work, so it seems reasonable for taxpayers to pay this benefit to broaden the eligibility for more people to potentially run and serve on the county board.
However, pensions are a compensation for longer-term service and longevity is not the objective of public service.
As for me personally, I will decline both county benefits of pension and hospitalization.
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'
Don't let the budget ?horse? out of the barn until it is properly saddled with commitments and obligations that are in-line with Board expectations.
This is one of the toughest structural issues with which the county board and chairman struggle.
I will do everything within my power to build solid, cooperative working relationships with county-wide elected officials.
The County Clerk, Treasurer, Recorder of Deeds, current County Auditor and several county board members support my candidacy.
My relationship with the current sheriff goes back two generations and is based on solid mutual respect . . . he coached my second son in pee-wee football and that son went on to play four years of varsity football at Harvard.
But, the moment of truth in maintaining control of the budget process is not releasing it until all understandings are in place.
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