Candidates in the three-way Republican primary for the Kane County Board's 21st District don't see eye to eye on whether the long-awaited Longmeadow Parkway is necessary to ease traffic congestion.
The parkway is a 5.6-mile corridor primarily impacting Huntley, Algonquin and Carpentersville. The $117 million project has federal approval, but the controversy has been the inclusion of a toll bridge to fund the project. Initial engineering has not been completed.
Don Rage, 54, owner of Rage Property Management, held the seat for eight years before he was defeated in 2002. After that, the Sleepy Hollow resident served two years on the county's review board for tax assessment. He was on the board when Randall Road was widened from two to four lanes.
Lee Barrett, 74, of East Dundee, who had been a county board member for eight years starting in the 1990s, has been working with the county's veterans assistance commission as the AMVETS representative and on the county's board of review. He is an engineer by trade.
Becky Gillam, 51, a trustee on the West Dundee Village Board since 2007, works as a freelance interior designer, and in sales and design at Platt Hill Nursery in Carpentersville. Gillam is part of the village board that secured a $2.5 million matching grant for $6.5 million worth of improvements on Huntley Road.
Tim Haley, the man now representing the 21st District, is Gillam's brother in law. He is not running for re-election.
"I fully stand on my own record as a West Dundee trustee, and that's a record I plan on running on," Gillam said, adding that she'd resign from the village board if she wins a seat on the county board.
Rage and Gillam agree the parkway is necessary, but disagree on ways to pay for it. During an endorsement interview, Barrett said the parkway isn't needed to handle the traffic up north, because it isn't going to get any worse.
Reached later, Barrett says he would support building two smaller bridges of two lanes on Bolz Road and Kings Road in Carpentersville that would cost less than the parkway.
He's not convinced the parkway is the way to go, because it would bring all of the traffic to one point and unload it at another.
"You need multiple bridges so at least there's some distribution of traffic," Barrett said.
Rage says if elected, he'd work with the state and federal government to help fund the bridge. He'd also support putting developments in place that would help pay for it. The roads that lead to the bridge would be each town's responsibility, he said.
"There are so many ways to do it, it's just you have to think outside the box so that you can make it happen," Rage said. "We have to get people home to have dinner with their family instead of sitting in the traffic for an hour on Randall Road."
Gillam would also look for outside ways to fund the bridge, but if none of them panned out, she'd propose a bridge toll -- only as a last resort.
"If we can do it in another way, absolutely, but if it means not having a bridge, if that is the only way to do it, I would support (it)," Gillam said. "It's a user fee. The people who are going to be using it are going to be paying for it. I don't care where they come from."
Rage and Barrett are opposed to a bridge toll.
"That doesn't make any sense," Barrett said, adding that money reserved for the parkway should be used for the two bridges he proposes. "The Illinois Tollway System is a monster. This is going to be our mini monster."
The 21st District includes parts of Carpentersville, East Dundee and West Dundee.