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updated: 9/21/2012 4:39 PM

Scott Summers: Candidate Profile

McHenry County board District 6 (Democrat)

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  • Scott Summers, running for McHenry County board District 6

    Scott Summers, running for McHenry County board District 6




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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Harvard


Office sought: McHenry County board District 6

Age: 63

Family: Married; two children.

Occupation: Attorney and author (two "how-to" books published by the American Bar Association)

Education: JD, Northern Illinois University College of Law, 1985; MBA, Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management, 1976; BA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1971; United States Merchant Marine Academy (no degree).

Civic involvement: Member, Harvard Community Memorial Hospital board, 1980-82; member, McHenry County Welfare Services Committee, 1982-84 (both appointments by McHenry County Board). Former treasurer of three nonprofits (former Harvard Hospital; former Hospice for McHenry County; a church in Woodstock.) Former scout leader.

Elected offices held: Trustee, McHenry County College, 2005 - 2009.

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Jobs, jobs, jobs. We're almost four years into the Great Recession - and the suffering continues. Far too many of our family members and friends and neighbors remain unemployed. The tried-and-true methods for stimulating job growth haven't been working very well. We really need to try some other approaches. I offer two bold and innovative ideas for putting McHenry County back to work. The first is microcapitalism - a multi-agency project to develop home and community-based businesses, utilizing microloans and microgrants. This seed money, coupled with the advice and assistance of volunteer advisers, will nurture and raise up a new breed of local entrepreneurs. And these new businesses will, one job at a time, reinvigorate our economic climate, and infuse our communities with new vitality and prosperity. I believe that the McHenry County Board also must move job creation on a macro basis. My second initiative will have the county join with other units of government to acquire the long vacant Motorola plant in Harvard. We should then market the campus smartly and aggressively across the country and throughout the world. Let's be realistic: it's been nearly a decade since Motorola closed. And if we're not able to find a suitable corporate use for the facility within another few years, then it should be converted to public purposes. In short, it's high time that we take our economic destiny into our own hands, and not leave it to chance. The McHenry County Board can help lead the way on both a micro and a macro basis.

Key Issue 2

Fiscal responsibility. In these difficult economic times, McHenry County must live within its means. It is imperative that the County Board adopt austerity budgets and enforce fiscal responsibility and accountability. It also is essential that the county board set the tone and style for management practices that are, at once, shrewd, smart, and open. My training in law and business, and my prior experience as an elected official, make me particularly well suited to be a fiscal watchdog and taxpayer advocate on the county board. Over the shorter term, an exhaustive examination of our county governmental functions will, I believe, lead to improved efficiencies and economies. Once elected, one of my first priorities will be for the board to retain an outside management consulting firm for evaluation of county governance from top to bottom. I then expect the board to implement the hard nosed dollars-and-sense changes that the consultants recommended. Do we want fewer taxes? Of course! But to accomplish this, we must, over the longer term, streamline and reduce the size of government here in McHenry County. This will require consolidation and closure of some agencies, and the merger of some administrative positions (both elective and appointed). Advocacy like this is, politically speaking, wildly unpopular. Even so, I intend to speak frankly and forthrightly about what we must do to slim down government, while simultaneously improving public service delivery. To summarize: as a county board member, I'll do everything in my power to extract one hundred cents of value from each and every tax dollar.

Key Issue 3

Sustainable prosperity. We all know that McHenry County is a magnificent place in which to live, work, and play. (That's why we're here!) But it will take an enormous effort to set (and keep) our McHenry County on a course of sustainable prosperity. The county board must help point the way. The underpinning, as we now are coming to understand, is that ECOnomy and ECOlogy really are bound up as one. Accordingly, we must commit to an "eco-eco" program of business and development. We must devise and implement sophisticated styles of transportation and land use that make our communities compact, contiguous, and livable. We must harmonize public and private transportation, and shorten commutes. We must increase use of solar and wind and geothermal technologies. We must grow more of our food - and produce more of our goods - locally. And we must invest in one of the most precious things of all: our future. In other words, we're stewards -- not transients. The choices we make for McHenry County today should be seen, at least in part, as gifts for the generations that follow. This is where we want to go. And this is where the county board must lead.

Questions & Answers

McHenry County has managed the recession without a budgetary crisis like those in other counties. How do you ensure the county continues on that path and that reserves aren?t depleted? Are there specific budget areas that need more attention?

The county is to be commended for attaining sound financial footing. In order to maintain our course, austerity is the watchword. And hard-as-nails management is the style. Personnel costs are, by far, the largest component of the county budget. I believe that employee benefits need to be restructured gradually. The county's new commitment to health and wellness programs warrants compliment. But we also should examine programs like health savings accounts (HSAs), which combine cash set-asides with high deductible major medical insurance. Information technology (IT) also needs to be reassessed. The county's hodgepodge of proprietary software needs to be replaced and unified using LINUX-based (i.e., open source) systems.

Does the McHenry County Board have a good transportation improvement plan? Please be specific and suggest whether you think anything is missing or should be scrapped.

Considerable effort is going into the county's draft 2040 transportation plan. Its extra attention to trails and bikeways warrants particular compliment. Overall, I offer an opinion that many people will find to be unusual. I think that much of the draft plan is predicated on dysfunction. And rather than remediate the dysfunction, the plan inadvertently perpetuates it. Consider this: roughly 80% of our working residents stream out of the county each day for employment elsewhere. Conversely, significant numbers of service workers are commuting into McHenry County daily. The majority of all of these arduous trips are made by single individuals in private automobiles. Rather than facilitate and enable and reinforce these spectacularly wasteful traffic patterns by sinking ever-increasing sums into new roads, we must work instead to shorten commutes. To accomplish this, we should redouble our economic development efforts to create in-county jobs. And we should increase our stocks of affordable housing. It may take decades to turn our collective driving habits around. But that's what a long range plan is all about. I believe that comprehensive efforts to shorten our commutes - and, indeed, to reduce our driving overall - are eminently worthy goals for the year 2040.

Does the county need to address its ethics policies? Why or why not? If so, how?

This past May, I spoke to the McHenry County Board about the need for heightened conflict-of-interest standards. At issue was a waiver to be submitted the the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). I do not doubt the adequacy or sufficiency of the county's internal reviews. And I do not doubt the sincerity or motivation or honesty or integrity of the affected individuals. But all of the affidavits and examinations and reviews and recusals in the world will not change the APPEARANCES of conflict in the HUD waiver case. I believe that public service carries with it daunting standards and solemn responsibilities. It's not enough to avoid conflicts of interest. It's also about appearances. Consider Canon 2 of the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct: ?A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge's activities.? In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of our fellow citizens, members of the McHenry County Board - and local officials everywhere - must follow our judges onto that high road. We need to avoid even the appearance of conflict.

Assess McHenry County?s efforts thus far in terms of groundwater preservation and protection. What needs to be done now and in the future?

I am deeply concerned that we are drawing down some of our aquifers at unsustainable rates. The McHenry County Water Resources Action Plan (WRAP) and the forthcoming unified development ordinance (UDO) are helpful. But in the southern and eastern portions in the county in particular, we need to embark on rigorous water usage and conservation practices.

Assess how the county health department approached the whooping cough outbreak. What should have been done differently?

I believe that all of the actions taken by our public health professionals (e.g., public service announcements and vaccination clinics) were both timely and appropriate.