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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.
City: Crystal Lake
Office sought: McHenry County board District 3
Family: Married to Chris Gottemoller for 27 years Together we raised three grown sons and now have two Daughters in law
Education: BA University of Illinois 1979 JD American University 1982
Civic involvement: Crystal Lake Jaycees: 1985 to mid-90s Treasurer 1985-1986 Chair/Co-Chair of St Thomas Annual Festival: 1995-2000 Member Home Builders Association of McHenry County: 1990s Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 127: 1998-2003
Elected offices held: Trustee McHenry County Conservation District: 2002-2007 President: 2006-2007 McHenry County Planning and Zoning Ad hoc committee member drafted the McHenry County Conservation Design ordinance: 2007-2009 Board of Directors, Midwest Bank of McHenry County: 2000-2002 Member the County Zoning ordinance review committee mid 1990s McHenry County Gravel Task Force Member: 1991-1992
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: no
Key Issue 1
#1 Property Taxes as a Percentage of Home Values The County Board?s 2011 decision to increase taxes at the same time property values decreased guaranteed that each homeowner paid a larger percentage of their home value to the government this year. Only intense public pressure during an election year caused the Board to reconsider the decision to tax to the maximum allowable amount for 2013. In 2007 most homeowners paid two percent of the value of their home for property taxes. Since home values have dropped and taxes have increased, each homeowner is now paying between three and four percent of their property value in taxes each year. To put this into perspective, the average homeowner will pay more than the value of their home in taxes before they pay off their 30 year mortgage.
Key Issue 2
#2 Reducing Costs of Government The County needs to find ways to decrease costs in this declining economy. Two methods for reducing the government costs are the implementation of a ?zero-based? budgeting process and an examination of essential vs. desired services. Both go to the heart of the budgeting process. Zero-based budgeting is not a new concept. Through this approach, each year every department starts at zero and department heads must justify all requested funds, not just provide an explanation of why more funds are needed each year. The second method to reduce costs requires the county to determine the difference between ?essential services? and ?wants?. While this is always difficult, it is necessary in a contracting economy. Just as private citizens have had to reprioritize budgets and reduce their overall expenditures, the County must do the same. The Board needs to embrace their core mission of providing essential services, and cut the ?wants? until the economy improves.
Key Issue 3
#3Encouraging New Job Growth The County?s zoning ordinance is a valuable tool that can be utilized to either encourage or discourage job growth. Today it is used to stop start up companies. The County Board must change its zoning ordinance to encourage job growth. Nearly all economists point to new start-up businesses as the number one job generator in the country. Most of those new businesses start in someone?s home. Yet the County has used its zoning authority to make most new home occupations illegal. Today in McHenry County a start-up business is prohibited from having more than one outside employee. Additionally, the home business must exist entirely within the dwelling part of the home. The use of any part of the home with a separate entrance to the outside is prohibited. Under these ordinances, Apple Computers could not have started in McHenry County. We have to change this anti-business policy. Since much of my legal career has focused on zoning issues, I will spearhead revisions of the County zoning ordinance to encourage new business-friendly policies.
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?
Although McHenry County has done a good job protecting its reserves, it now has to turn its attention to the need to control and reduce costs. There is a difference between services we need and services we want. While prioritizing the budget is always difficult, it is necessary in a contracting economy. Just as private citizens have had to reprioritize budgets and reduce their overall expenditures, the County must do the same. The Board needs to embrace their core mission of providing essential services, and cut the ?wants? until the economy improves.
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.
In general, the County has been forced to play catch-up to the rapid expansion of municipalities over the past 20 years. With the downturn in the economy and the federal dollars that are available, there are several good road projects being constructed. A few examples include, the Rakow Road expansion, the I-90 and Route 47 full access expansion, and the Algonquin Bypass are all improvements that the County has had the foresight to develop. However, there are still many other important improvements that are needed. An interchange at Route 23 and I-90 has been discussed for years, and because the Toll Authority has stated they intend to reconstruct most of I-90, the interchange should be built at the same time. Furthermore, most of the current projects are in the southern third of the county. Very little has been done to connect the northern portion of the county with the jobs that are outside the county.
Does the county need to address its ethics policies? Why or why not? If so, how?
There is an existing state statute which binds all county board members to disclose their interests in any company in which they are 7.5% or greater owners. In addition, the County recently added the requirement that all officials must disclose all of their landholdings. This latest disclosure requirement convinced several non-elected volunteers to withdraw from public service rather than disclose their personal information to the public. Each board member has a duty to comply with both the statutes and ordinances. Neither the old regulations nor the new regulations have resulted in a single member being charged with a breach of ethics. The disclosures should stay if for no other reason than to let an informed public know where potential conflicts could arise. Since the new disclosure requirements are in their first full election cycle, we should evaluate them after they have had a chance to operate.
Assess McHenry County?s efforts thus far in terms of groundwater preservation and protection. What needs to be done now and in the future?
McHenry County has been a model for the state and country in studying and planning for groundwater protection and preservation. All of the water used in McHenry County comes from groundwater. The County has recently released a groundwater resource map locating the most sensitive groundwater recharge areas. During the past calendar year the County has installed monitoring wells throughout much of the county to give actual real time data as to the condition of our water supply. These studies are ongoing and should be used to guide our county?s future development.
Assess how the county health department approached the whooping cough outbreak. What should have been done differently?
I am not a health professional, but the research I have been able to review indicates to me that the Health Department has done a good job. First they traced the source of each reported case to see if they could locate the source of the outbreak. The initial outbreak appears to have been centered on exposure to and by a group of school aged children who play sports. Second, the Health Department set up several vaccination clinics to encourage all members of the public to get a pertussis booster vaccine. Finally, the Health Department did an excellent job of informing the public of the problem. They used press releases and the Department?s web site to tell the public how to fight this outbreak. When the crisis is passed, I would hope that the Department would review their own procedures to do see where they think they can improve. However, I do believe they should be commended for their handling of the matter this time.