In what organizers called a "spirited" debate, Republican candidates for the Kane County Board chairman position traded ideas on the future of the county.
State Sen. Chris Lauzen and Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns spoke during the third annual Kane County Republican Advisory Council's candidate forum Sunday, co-sponsored by the Kane County Republican Party and Kane County Republican Women.
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As he's done in past debate scenarios, Burns took the offensive, questioning his opponent's experience as a senator in the 25th district and its application to the chairman position. He also criticized Lauzen's advertising of the federal mortgage relief program, saying Lauzen is taking credit for someone else's plan.
The senator largely ignored Burns' digs, sticking to his prepared answers and focusing instead on his priorities if elected. Lauzen mentioned several times his commitment to freezing the property tax levy, showing respectful leadership and incorporating innovation into county administration. But in his closing statement, Lauzen defended his promotion of the federal refinancing program from his own website.
"This is the first time I've been criticized for trying to help people with their mortgages," Lauzen said, to the crowd's laughter.
Burns emphasized his own agenda -- halting the impact fee ordinance to spur economic development, starting a round table for the county and representatives from the county's municipalities and effectively managing the team that runs county government.
"There is only one candidate in the Republican primary with the experience necessary to run a team," Burns said. "That candidate is me."
The candidates agreed on policy decisions in several of the questions asked, but when it came to potential cuts to the county budget, Lauzen suggested the need to focus on rising pension costs and start each budget cycle from zero, instead of using the past year's numbers as the starting point.
Burns said the zero-based budgeting approach takes away job security for the county's employees. He also recommended an immediate 10 percent reduction in the chairman salary as a cost-saving measure.
The Kane County Republican Advisory Council will not be hosting any other debates during the primary but plans to schedule another before the general election in November.