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updated: 2/14/2012 4:04 PM

Kane Dist. 19 candidates talk medical insurance, pensions

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  • Victor LaPorte

      Victor LaPorte

  • Kurt R. Kojzarek

      Kurt R. Kojzarek

 
 

The Republican candidates seeking to represent Kane County's 19th District have different positions on whether they'd use the county's medical insurance plan.

The availability of county health insurance to board members has been a source of debate.

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County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay has said she will support a review of whether it's appropriate for board members to receive health insurance. She said board members should not receive a benefit that isn't available to any other part-time employee. Other part-timers are eligible for insurance, but they pay the majority of the cost themselves.

Victor LaPorte, 59, a retired elevator technician running for the seat, is on Social Security disability from injuries he said he incurred six years ago after he fell down an elevator shaft. Union insurance picks up what disability doesn't cover. This arrangement means that if elected to the county board, he won't apply for medical coverage.

"I could save the county that expense," LaPorte said.

Kurt Kojzarek, LaPorte's 33-year-old opponent, feels differently.

If he wins the seat, Kojzarek says, he will become a part-time employee at Property Specialists Inc., where he now is director of operations.

Going part time means he would lose his company's health benefits, which is why the married father of one would accept the county's.

"In order to be able to adequately represent my district, I feel that I would need to go part time at my job to be able to attend the meetings and things of that nature," Kojzarek said.

Fourteen of the 26 board members take the health insurance perk. A total of 23 board members take the optional pension benefit. Thirteen board members take both perks.

Only three board members reject both the pension and the health insurance.

Both men agree that if the county stopped offering insurance plans, it would limit the scope of the candidates now running for county office.

"We're going to lose folks who represent our generation, my type of working class, middle class income bracket and all we'll have is self-employed people on the board," Kojzarek said.

Both men said they would accept a county-issued pension, but they speak of a need for large-scale pension reform in Illinois that prevents government employees from double and triple dipping.

"It's bringing this state to its knees," LaPorte said. "It's been a travesty, especially in the state of Illinois how these politicians have gone from unit of government to unit of government collecting pensions -- and it just doesn't seem right."

LaPorte and Kojzarek are running for the seat long occupied by Cathy Hurlbut, who is seeking the Kane County Circuit Court Clerk's seat this election season.

The 19th District includes parts of Elgin, Carpentersville, Gilberts and Sleepy Hollow.

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