Kevin Burns: 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: Three daughters: Emma (22), Grace (19), Florence (18)
Occupation: Director of Corporate & Community Partnerships National Safety Council
Education: B.A. - Augustana College 1986
Civic involvement: Geneva Community Chest 2016 Olympic Games Regional Coordinating Committee Volunteer Emcee and Auctioneer for local, regional and national charities including, Boys & Girls Clubs, Association for Individual Development, Living Well Cancer Resource Center, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Saving Tiny Hearts Society, Childrens Heart Foundation, Delnor Community Hospital, Provena Mercy Center Hospital, to name a few.
Elected offices held: Geneva Library Board 1989-1991 Geneva Historic Preservation Commission 1994-1997 Geneva City Council (1st Ward Alderman) 1997-2001 Mayor of Geneva 2001-Present Kane County Stormwater Management Committee Kane County Community Block Grant Development Committee Kane County Task Force on Former Jail Redevelopment Kane County Council of Mayors Metrowest Council of Government Metropolitan Mayors Caucus
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
My number one objective is to invest my executive experience in leading the complex and diverse organization that is Kane County.
Moreover, to provide sound administrative management skills and work with elected and appointed officials at the local, county, regional, state and federal level in a spirit of cooperation, collaboration and consensus building.
Kane County needs and deserves someone who is experienced in all facets of good government and sound management - holding the line on taxes, economic development, strrong relationship building skills, job creation - in order to advance the mission and vision of Kane County in a responsible manner.
Key Issue 2
It's important that Kane County - in concert with municipal leaders - send a powerful message to the economic development community and business community that Kane County is open for business.
Therefore, I would move to enact an immediate 18-month moratorium on the Kane County Road Impact Fee.
Doing so will eliminate the hesitation from existing businesses and prospective new businesses from investing in thier future because of the addtional "tax" that is hanging over their heads.
In addition, an 18-month Road Impact Fee Moratorium will prevent the "bidding war" that is occurring between cities/villages that have different impact fees based solely on what side of a street they happen to be on.
In addition, I would move to re-establish the position of Kane County Economic Development Director.
He/she will be charged with not only traditional economic development objectives but with also establishing partnershiphs with municipal, regional, state and federal ecnomic development professionals to effectively position Kane County as a place to locate, expand and enhance business opportunities.
Key Issue 3
I pledge to establish quarterly "Economic Development Forums" with village and city leaders along with economic development professionals to achieve the mutual goal of improving communication between the parties as well as creating a true partnership for economic opportunity.
Along similar lines, I will establish a bi-annual "Chairman's Roundtable" breakfast meeting with civic, business and not-for-profit leaders throughout Kane County in order to "listen, learn and act" on issues important to them, their employees, customers and clients.
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, I do support enacting a strong and clearly understood ethics ordinance.
I'm dissapointed that the current draft has been relegated back to committee instead of being advanced for full board approval.
The reality is, whatever ordinance is ultimately approved, it's likely that amendments will have to be made from time to time.
I'm afraid the current process has prevented a "good" ordinance being delayed for the sake of a "perfect" ordinance which is unlikely to materialize.
Specific elements that I support include the establishment of an Ethics Panel comprised of no-less then three citizens selected NOT by the Chairman or County Board but by the State's Attorney's Office.
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?
I have spent my entire professional life in the not-for-profit industry and recognize, respect and appreciate the struggle grant makers face with wanting to fund all worthwhile programs but simply can't because of limited resources themselves.
As Kane County is facing a similar challenge, and that challenge is likely to continue for years, I would recommend that Kane County recalibrate the funding it provides from riverboat funds from outright grants to "challenge grants." In other words, the monies awarded/granted to a particular organization will only be appropriated based on a pre-determined percentage of funds the benefitting organization pledges to raise.
For instance, if the Smith Foundation was seeking a riverboat grant of $100,000 Kane County would require that Smith Foundation be able to raise $40,000 first by "challenging" their donors, their board members, their staff and their friends to meet the 40% goal of the total grant being sought.
By establishing challenge grant guidelines, the not-for-profit is challenged to inspire their donors, forced to look at their own sucess (operations, processes, etc..) and leadership (staff) and Kane County is better assured of a wise and sustainable investment.
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?
Yes, the Kane County court system is in need of a new computer system upgrade.
But, it's highly unlikely that a new system will cost the $12.6 million which has been reported.
The fact is, the $12.6 million dollar figure is the "Rolls Royce" option.
Through appropriate research, collaboration between county departments and counsel from the professional staff who have the knowledge and experience in such technology, I'm confident that Kane County will find a "Chevrolet" version that will allow integration, scaleablity, improved communications, efficiency and responsiveness to internal and external customers alike.
I support utilizing the recently approved fee structure to help fund the computer system upgrade and would not support diverting the RTA sales tax for this purpose.
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 no objection to County Board Members being allowed to purchase the insurance provided other county employees but I would recommend a wholesale review of why part-time county employees are not allowed the same privilege/opportunity to purchase insurance.
Many have argued - and I tend to agree - that if a County Board position is technically a "part-time position" then why shouldn't other part-time employees be treated the same?
I don't believe, however, that the pension benefit should be continued for county board members.
For the record, as Mayor of Geneva I do not have insurance or pension benefits.
As for the Chairman, I have no objection to he/she being able to participate in the health and pension benefits. The job is indeed a full-time endeavor that requires a certain set of skills necessary and because the Chairman is likely to dedicate his/her full-time to the job it's only fitting that they be provided the necessary benefits to support their family.
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'
It's incumbent upon the Chairman to work with the countywide elected officials to establish a mutually respectful relationship which, if done properly, will help mitigate the disagreements, in-fighting and "silos" that too often exist in such large organizations.
The reality is that the county board has the statutory authority to levy the resources necessary to fund operations and the elected officials "hired" to lead those operations should be trusted to do so but within the ramparts of limited resources and accountability to the taxpayers.
Understanding this balanced relationship is key, and it's the Chairman's responsibility to set the tone from day one so that the team of elected officials can work in harmony for the benefit of the citizens and businesses of Kane County.
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