Bonnie Thomson Carter: Candidate Profile
Lake County board District 5
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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.
Office sought: Lake County board District 5
Family: Married 29 years to Tom, 4 children in a blended family, 1 grandchild
Occupation: Elected Official; 22 years as owner of insurance agency
Education: Graduate of Carmel High School
Civic involvement: Fox Lake Area Chamber of Commerce St. Bede's Board of Specified Jurisdication Fox Lake Historical Club Route 120 Bypass Corridor Planning Council
Elected offices held: President of Lake County Forest Preserve; Stormwater Management Commission; School board; Chairmen of the Regional Water Supply Planning Committee; Member of the Northwest Water Planning Alliance; Chairmen of the Lake County Housing Authority
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
It is important to notice that Lake County is financially in the black. I am an advocate for effective and efficient government and I will continue to take the tough votes to ensure that practice continues. I will also continue to be a wise steward of your tax dollars by maintaining fiscal soundness; a balanced budget; keeping Lake County?s AAA bond rating; cutting all unnecessary and wasteful spending; while providing necessary services required by Lake County residents.
Key Issue 2
We must continue to create an environment for job creation that includes improving transportation infrastructure and providing incentives for major employers to come to Lake County. One example is when the County and local taxing districts worked together to secure UPS in Grayslake. I have also worked to get sites ready for development throughout District #5 so when the economy improves, District #5 will be ready for new construction thus adding jobs. A good transportation system is key for commercial and industrial business, that's why I have been a strong advocate for the extention of Rte. 53 and was an active member of the Route 120 Bypass corridor. Both critical to the 5th District.
Key Issue 3
I will continue to work to preserve Lake County's open spaces that provide a balance in our stressful lives and secure long-term sustainable water supply improving our quality of life. For 10 years I have been an advocate and worked with local and regional groups examining the water issues in our area. Not only are residents dependent upon a clean, safe water supply, but our businesses are too. I had the privelige of Chairing the Regional Water Supply Planning Group, a 35 member committee from 11 County's. Our charge was to study and make recommendations on how the water supply will meet the demand out to year 2050. As a continuation of that effort, I am now a member of the NorthWest Water Planning Alliance where Lake County and our 5 neighboring County's and municipalities are working together to ensure a safe reliabile water source. Many communities in Lake County are already experiencing a limited supply of water and/or poor water quality. We must work to ensure that we can met our water demands and improve water quality for future generations.
Now that golf at Fort Sheridan is a dead issue, what types of amenities should be added to the site?
Fort Sheridan, with its natural and living history, is one of the most breathtaking forest preserves the residents of Lake County own. I have always supported having Fort Sheridan open to all residents in Lake County and now that the golf issue is dead, I am happy that residents of the 5th District will have access to the entire preserve. I will work toward adding additional trails, overlooks with scenic views of Lake Michigan; and small family picnic shelters as funding becomes available.
What, if any, new ethics-related rules are needed for the county board and county staff?
While the County has never had an ethics complaint, it is important that we have strong ethic standards. The County Board approved an updated ethics ordinance last year which included provisions more strict than state law requires; we created an anonymous hotline where any employee can call if they feel something is wrong without fear of reprisal; we prohibit Board Members or appointed officials from influencing or attempting to influence the hiring process so that the most qualified person is hired for a job; we prohibit Board Members from influencing or attempting to influence the purchasing process or attempting to give any particular vendor an unfair advantage; and we removed investigations out of the Board?s purview and appointed the State?s Attorney?s office to be responsible for independent investigations. We published and circulated them to all employees and incorporate Ethics training into our training curriculum for new hires and our supervisor training. Each Board Member takes an Ethics training test also.
Government transparency has been an important issue in recent years. Name one thing the county government or forest preserve district should do to improve transparency.
One way that I am transparent with my constituents is through my E Newsletter, which currently 2200 people receive. I keep the 5th District residents informed about local issues that can have an impact on them including emergency weather, road closures and public hearings as well as acquaint them with County and Forest Preserve updates. It is my personal goal to have more residents signed up for my E News in order for me to keep them informed on county issues that impact them. Additionally, the County has won the Sunny Day Award for transparency. Finding committee agendas, minutes and budgets is easy to do on the County website. While the County Board meetings are televised, committee meetings are not yet that is where all the debate occurs and decisions are made. I support televising those meetings to improve transparency.
Should the forest district use eminent domain to acquire the land needed for the final link in the Des Plaines River Trail? Why or why not? If your answer is no, how should officials go about acquiring that land sooner than later?
No, I have never supported eminent domain to acquire forest preserve land. I support purchasing land from willing sellers. When the land owner of this final link is ready to work with the Forest Preserve, the connection will happen. Alternatively, if he sells to a developer, the district will work with the new owner and local municipality. It is a regional trail and the district has a good working relationship with the neighboring municipality?s who share the same vision of trail connections for all its residents. We will work with them and get it done.
What will be the biggest issue facing the county over the next decade, and how do you propose dealing with it?
Operating County government with less money will be a major challenge, but we can do it. We will not keep going to the taxpayers for more and more money. We are constantly evaluating our programs to ensure that we are operating in the most efficient manner. When working on the yearly budget, I always keep in mind its the public money not mine and I will work to reduce spending wherever we can. We will continue to evaluate our programs for efficiency and effectiveness as we are doing now. As a County Board member, I do not operate any differently than I do running my home finances. I do not spend money I do not have. I have made tough votes reducing staff, cutting programs while maintaining the necessary services for the residents. I will continue in this practice. Local governments are going to be forced towards efficiently as well. We need to cooperate with other local governments to share work and responsibility.
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