Donna Kurtz: Candidate Profile
McHenry County board District 2
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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 2
Family: Husband Paul and stepdaughter Tavi Jane
Occupation: Business Development Director for an IT Consulting Company
Education: Crystal Lake Central High School, 1977 BA - Southern Illinois University, 1981 MBA - University of Illinois at Springfield, 1983 Post Graduate work at Northwestern University, 1994
Civic involvement: McHenry County Workforce Investment Board - County Board Liaison McHenry County Workforce Investment Board - County Board Liaison McHenry County Housing Authority - County Board Liaison McHenry County College Board Trustee (2005-2010) Illinois Auditor General, Management Auditor (MBA Internship), Springfield, IL Member of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce
Elected offices held: Currently McHenry County Board Member elected in 2010 McHenry County College Board Trustee (2005-2010)
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
I believe people deserve elected officials who will provide responsive and sensible representation. I have a strong business and financial background and the experience and abilities to address the challenges that face McHenry County. Specifically I have established a track record of listening to voter concerns and then working to address those concerns. The foundation of my approach to representing the community is my belief that McHenry County needs less government, not more. My record as a fiscal conservative with an established record of rejecting expensive public projects, not increasing spending, and balancing budgets is fundamental to the approach I take in representing District 2. Specifically, I have not supported new construction to house government expansion, such as a proposed $800,000 courthouse expansion, and a new courthouse location. These projects cost millions; and have an exponential cost impact on taxpayers for years to come. In addition, I have encouraged County government to continually assess itself to look for ways to consolidate, restructure, and out-source so the needs of the taxpayer can be best provided in a cost-effective manner. Ultimately I believe the County will be more fiscally responsible through smaller, not larger government.
Key Issue 2
McHenry County Government must provide leadership to protect our quality of life. People settled in our county to enjoy a suburban/rural atmosphere with reasonable taxes and good schools. However, now these same citizens have witnessed their property values plummet, traffic gridlock, decreasing employment opportunities, and soaring taxes. Many citizens simply don?t think County Government is working for them to address these issues. I have worked hard to provide this leadership by building credibility between County and municipalities in my district with my support of municipality ordinances such as the Crystal Lake Watershed Ordinance and addressing Lake In the Hills and Algonquin transportation concerns. I will continue my work with the communities I serve in order to address our continuing need to address quality of life issues.
Key Issue 3
McHenry County needs focused economic development to increase our tax base and generate local jobs. To attract new business to the County, we must fight higher taxes by avoiding increased spending and capital development that does not directly contribute to economic development. Also County Government must consistently encourage responsible economic initiatives and activities within our municipalities. Local communities provide the key services that will make McHenry County attractive to businesses that may wish to relocate here. I have supported this by voting against development in unincorporated areas because it requires costly infrastructure, and results in urban sprawl. In addition, I believe we must work to promote a more business friendly environment by reassessing our current zoning ordinances in our upcoming Unified Development Ordinance so we can effectively identify and change current laws that may restrict appropriate entrepreneurial business development. In addition, I have helped in contributing to a more robust and innovative economic base through local business development with the ?Government to Business PlugIn? event in order to open up millions of dollars in potential business opportunities to local businesses. I will continue to provide innovative leadership in addressing economic development in McHenry County.
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?
During these difficult economic times, I have been a strong proponent for McHenry County Government to avoid unnecessary capital development, as well as payroll increases. Because payroll is approximately 70 to 75% of the County?s budget, every time we approve salary increases we place enormous new expenses on the taxpayer. That is why I have not voted for any payroll increases this year, and I have urged the board to do the same. I believe we must use common sense and fiscal responsibility in making these decisions. However, I am concerned that other board members have supported these types of increases, and this may stress our county government in the years to come. In the next session and in next year?s budget planning I will be working hard to promote a more fiscally conservative agenda in which reduced spending is in line with the potential for continued declines in county government revenues.
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.
The 2040 Transportation Plan has undertaken a number of major projects that include the Algonquin Bypass, as well as replacement of aging bridges, and providing/supporting alternative modes of transportation such as buses and commuter transit. I support the proactive approach that has been undertaken in planning. However, I have voiced my concerns to the Transportation Department regarding their continued pursuit of the Contiguous Flow Intersection (CFI) roadway configuration because this approach has a number of draw backs to the LITH and Algonquin communities. Specifically, members of both village boards have voiced strong opposition to this approach because it would encroach on existing businesses that provide millions of dollars in tax revenues to these communities. In addition, the cost for this type of construction is extraordinarily expensive and could place tremendous cost burdens on McHenry County for our local portion of these costs, for decades to come. I will continue to be a strong representative for these communities? concerns in the years ahead. The future transportation approach in these areas should be a less costly and less intrusive transportation approach that the support of the local communities can support.
Does the county need to address its ethics policies? Why or why not? If so, how?
The Ethics Ordinance that passed in 2009 has been an excellent step forward in promoting more responsible and ethical behavior by County officials. In addition, as a member of the Management Services committee I have introduced new additions to the Board Rules to discourage members from engaging in conflict of interest activities, County Board member attendance tracking, and Open Meetings Training to address violations by Board Members of the Open Meetings Act.
Assess McHenry County?s efforts thus far in terms of groundwater preservation and protection. What needs to be done now and in the future?
The 2030 Plan approved by the County Board contains inconsistencies that could allow approximately 10% of all new development to occur in unincorporated areas. This means that out of a total of 368,187 acres county-wide the 2030 Plan permits over 30,000 acres for ?spot development?. This literally allows development in the middle of cornfields. Developments that are not contiguous to existing cities and towns destroy our open spaces and farmland and rely on septic systems because there are no sewer or city services. Over time septic fields may contaminate ground water because waste water remains untreated. In addition, land development will place enormous numbers of rooftops and asphalt in areas that currently provide critical recharge to underlying aquifers. Limiting the rainfall and surface water runoff hurts infiltration and effective recharge of the underlying aquifers groundwater levels. As a result, the sustainability of critical water supplies in McHenry County is jeopardized. As a county board member I will address these gaps by supporting development of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) in a manner that allows for the protection of the quality and quantity of our precious drinking water.
Assess how the county health department approached the whooping cough outbreak. What should have been done differently?
Pertussis has been a concern in McHenry County, as well as a state and national public health concern (http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/outbreaks.html) . Recently the Public Health and Human Services Committee met with the Department of Health to receive an update on the status of pertussis in McHenry County. A number of improvements have occurred to help prevent the spread of pertussis. These improvements include rule changes to require Pertussis booster for sixth and ninth graders. This should help in reducing the numbers of cases that might have occurred in the future. In addition, the Health Department has undertaken a more proactive role in notifying medical providers and school nurses of the pertussis symptoms and prevention measures. Finally, the McHenry County Health Department has communicated the need for medical professionals to engage in additional testing in order to confirm and report the positives, which was not always done in the past. These proactive measures have been important steps in reducing this serious public health issue.
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