District 20 candidates talk pension, health benefits
Democratic challenger Penny Wegman said she won't accept health care benefits if elected to the Kane County Board and also won't pay into the pension system for her retirement.
Cristina Castro, the incumbent in Kane's Elgin-based District 20, didn't accept the county medical insurance in her first term and doesn't plan to if re-elected, she says, but she does pay into the pension system.
Castro said when she first got on the board in December 2008 she didn't know rejecting the pension benefit was an option.
She said she already had adequate health insurance from her job in marketing at Elgin Community College and didn't need anything extra from the county.
"I ran for office because I believe I can help my community, not to collect benefits," Castro said.
Wegman also has health benefits through her full-time job at Career Education Corp. She said accepting them from the county would not be right because the position is only part-time.
"I think we should act as though it's a full-time position in that we are paid, but it's not a position where we should be taking the government's benefits," Wegman said.
Fourteen of the 26 board members now serving Kane County accept health insurance benefits; 23 opted into the pension program. Thirteen board members take both perks, but only three take neither.
The benefits are in addition to board members' $24,000 annual salary.
Wegman said per diems should be reinstated as an incentive for board members to attend meetings, and salaries should be decreased. She also would support a policy change taking away both pension and health care benefits from elected officials.
Wegman's key issues are cutting spending, maintaining fiscal transparency and engaging in responsible growth.
Castro's focus is on fiscal responsibility, improving public services and enhancing economic development.
District 20 covers portions of Elgin's east side.
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