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.
Office sought: McHenry County board District 3
Family: Nick and his wife, Bridgett, have three children: Kelly attends Lewis University, Ryan attends McHenry County College and Sam attends Montini Catholic School in McHenry. Nick and his family attend St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Johnsburg.
Occupation: Director of US & International Government Affairs for the World Trade Center Chicago-Illinois, a not-for-profit global trade center committed to expanding international trade between Illinois businesses and world markets.
Education: Graduated from DeVry University with formal training in electronics, computer technology and business management.
Civic involvement: Current and Past Civic Activities: -Awaken America (Grassroots Political Organization) ? Board of Directors -McHenry County Catholic Prayer Breakfast ? Board of Directors (Secretary) -Patriots United (Grassroots Political Organization) ? Member -Communities Against Gangs, Board of Directors -McHenry County Sportsmen?s Association, Member -McHenry County Right to Carry, Board of Directors -Knights of Columbus ? 4th Degree -Boy Scouts of America ? Troop 149 -Italian American Heritage Association of McHenry County -St. John the Baptist Catholic School ? Golf Outing Chairman -Johnsburg Challenge Bike-a-thon, Co-founder & Executive Director -McHenry Baseball Association, Coaching Assistant
Elected offices held: Nick was re-elected to the McHenry County Board in 2010 where he serves as Chairman of the Law & Justice Committee as well as a member of committees on Transportation, Legislative & Government Affairs, Building Projects, Disaster Planning, Local Emergency Planning, the Stormwater Commission, and the Child Advocacy Center. Nick also served as a Nunda Township Trustee for two years.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
Continue being the taxpayers' watchdog on the County Board?it?s your money. As your fiscal watchdog on the McHenry County Board, I will ensure we hold the line on spending and use your tax dollars wisely because it?s your money. That?s why I fought and voted against the County tax levy increase and the 2012 budget. I will continue to work to reduce redundancies, streamline inefficient programs, and review grant programs to ensure that costs incurred by the county for grants or matching programs are efficient expenditures. I believe the best government is the smallest, most efficient government that lives within its means and isn?t burdensome to families and businesses. Those we serve have had to tighten their belts, and with revenues down the county must do the same. We have the unique responsibility of being as efficient, effective, and affordable as possible because we?re not spending our money?we?re spending yours. For instance, when we?re faced with the decision of giving our county employees raises, the most important criteria is whether the taxpayers can afford to provide that money, not whether the employees have earned the raises (which many of them have)?this is why I?ve consistently opposed pay raises for all county elected officials and employees.
Key Issue 2
Support small businesses in order to encourage economic expansion and create jobs. Putting my 25+ years of business experience to use, I will continue to examine every tax, fee, and regulation imposed by our county government in order to reduce government interference and burdensome red tape so that we can foster a conducive environment for businesses to prosper and create jobs. I will continue to support the county?s revolving loan fund, which provides low-interest capital for business expansion. Most importantly, I will continue to work with local economic development organizations to help McHenry County manufacturers expand their sales base by finding new markets overseas, which I believe to be the quickest path to business expansion and job creation.
Key Issue 3
Work with regional leaders to improve transportation infrastructure. We must improve our transportation infrastructure in McHenry County, addressing both capacity and maintenance issues, as this has an impact on both quality of life and economic development. Too much time is wasted sitting in traffic, and this hurts area businesses and inconveniences our residents. I will continue to utilize my intergovernmental relationships to ensure McHenry County receives its fair share of capital investment from the Federal and State Governments in order to complete high-priority projects like the Algonquin Bypass, the Longmeadow Parkway Bridge, and a full interchange for Route 47 at I-90. I will also continue working with leaders in our adjacent counties to ensure regional solutions work for McHenry County residents. As a member of the Transportation Committee, I will continue to evaluate road construction projects to ensure money is being spent efficiently while working with residents to ensure the road work causes as little of an imposition as possible. Finally, I will continue to support our new network of public transportation options for the handicapped and seniors to ensure McHenry County services and businesses are accessible to all.
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?
First it?s important to note that the 2012 proposed budget had a $2.7 million shortfall. A few Board Members proposed we fill that short fall in two ways; raid the reserves (tax money collected in previous years) and increase taxes via a levy extension of $1.5 million in new money. I vigorously opposed both suggestions and voted against both because they did nothing to help curb the growth of government, used reserves irresponsibly and placed an even greater tax burden on citizens that are Taxed Enough Already. In fact the reserves were used specifically to pay for the bond debt service payments which historically have been paid out of an operating budget not reserves. But because the sales tax revenue fell, they needed another way to pay the bills. That?s like blowing your household budget to buy a new sports car you can?t afford and when your wife finds out you tell her its ok we?ll just pay our mortgage from our 401k fund. It?s an easy fix to the budget shortfall but it?s not sustainable and kicks the can down the road for someone else to worry about. I have pushed successfully for an overhaul to the budget process that starts earlier instead of the normal date of September to build a budget that reflects lower revenues, no levy increase and a meaningful cut in the size of government.
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.
(Refer to the earlier question for additional Transportation information) Transportation is one of the most important issues facing the county having an impact on both quality of life and economic development. McHenry County is the largest county in America without direct access to an interstate. We also have more than 50% of our workers leaving the County to work and they rank seventh in longest commute nationally. As a member of the Transportation Committee I am committed to ensuring the county Highway Improvement Plan provides capacity improvements, maintains existing roadways and ensures the safety of our bridges. A critical element of this plan is making sure the taxpayers in McHenry County get back their fair share of Federal funding. The key to getting Federal funding is building strong relationships with our Congressional Representatives and communicating our needs in an effective manner. I have recently hosted meetings with Senator Mark Kirk and Congressman Hultgren (who sits on the Transportation Committee), to discuss our specific transportation needs. Because of limited funds there are many projects that did not make it into the five-year County Highway Plan. In fact there are more than $1 billion dollars in total transportation projects identified long term but this five year Highway Improvement Plan reflects the top priorities with a realistic vision of available funding.
Does the county need to address its ethics policies? Why or why not? If so, how?
Ethics in government is very important, that?s why I led the fight to pass the County?s first ever ethics ordinance. I believe in a continuous improvement process that calls for ongoing review of all of our County?s policies. For instance, I believe there is more the County can do in the area of transparency because ethics and transparency go hand in hand. That?s why I continue to support the ultimate in transparency: live streaming of all County Board meetings on the internet and archiving them on YouTube. I also led the fight to write and pass the McHenry County Whistleblower Ordinance to prevent and root out any potential waste and fraud in the County purchasing process. To go even further in the spirit of full disclosure and ethics, I supported and complied with the standard Economic Interest Form AND the optional Enhanced Economic Interest Disclosure Form to ensure voters that I had no financial benefit from the votes I take on the board. I support the disclosure of attendance records and would like to see this information posted going back 13 months, the beginning of our term, not just January 1st of this year.
Assess McHenry County?s efforts thus far in terms of groundwater preservation and protection. What needs to be done now and in the future?
Because McHenry County obtains all of its water from underground wells, Groundwater Preservation is one of my top priorities. Several years ago I supported the hiring of the County?s first ever Water Resources Manager and continue to support the vital work of that office. I supported the network of county groundwater monitoring wells and feel that real time Hydrological 3D Mapping is imperative to successful water management which helps to identify location, usage rates and prevent contamination by future construction projects. I support the County?s Winter Snow and Ice Program and also support the Anti-icing methods that this county was a national pioneer in developing. In environmentally sensitive areas I would support the use of non-chloride based de-icing material such as Calcium Magnesium Acetate, a safe non-salt product. Federal grants are available to help offset the incremental expense. We need greater promotion of the County Medication Disposal Program and increase the number of drop-off locations to prevent unwanted contamination of ground water from flushed pharmaceuticals. We need to continue greater acceptance and use of conservation design development to protect groundwater and water recharge areas and encourage individual use of rain gardens and rain barrels.
Assess how the county health department approached the whooping cough outbreak. What should have been done differently?
I support the effort by the County Department of Health to combat the highly contagious disease of pertussis or whooping cough. Localized outbreaks of pertussis are not uncommon and occur throughout the year. In California in 2010 the outbreak effected over 7,200 people and residents in Michigan experienced over 1,000 cases. The County did a good job of informing the citizens of the issue through the media and on their web site. The best prevention still remains immunization of children and even boosters for adults. For more information on prevention refer to the County Health Department web site: http://www.co.mchenry.il.us/departments/health/pdfDocs/PHS/CD/Pertussis%20-%20prevention.pdf .