The two candidates running for the 15th District seat on the Lake County Board both cite economic issues as their top campaign concerns.
Beyond that, the issues they listed as priorities on recent Daily Herald questionnaires are very different. Republican incumbent Carol Calabresa is focused on road improvements and protecting green space, while Democratic challenger Del Parra wants to boost employment and ensure the Winchester House nursing home is modernized.
The 15th District includes Libertyville and part of Mundelein. The boundaries were adjusted this year because of population changes and the board's decision to reduce its size from 23 to 21 members.
The county board doubles as the Lake County Forest Preserve District board. Calabresa and Parra are competing for a 4-year term.
It's the third time Parra has challenged Calabresa for the post. He lost by wide margins in 2006 and 2010.
Calabresa, of Libertyville, said ensuring the county's continued fiscal responsibility is her top campaign issue. County officials have reduced salary costs by $50 million in recent years by cutting personnel, she said.
Calabresa said she voted against the 2012 budget because she wanted deeper cuts than were proposed, including funding for only core or mandated business operations.
"I will continue to advocate for the same this year," she said.
Improving transportation in Lake County is Calabresa's second priority. Road improvements create jobs and increase the ability to move people and goods across the county, she said.
Calabresa hailed the current expansion of Milwaukee Avenue in the Libertyville area as a step forward.
Finally, Calabresa pledged to continue protecting open space in Lake County. She claimed she's voted to preserve more than 17,000 acres during her time on the board.
"I was an early advocate and leader in land preservation, restoration, trail planning and development," she said. "I will continue this long-standing legacy."
Parra, of Libertyville, said his top priority is to make sure the board reduces spending and cuts taxes.
To save money, he suggested forest-district staffers should be given more jobs instead of awarding some contracts to private companies. He did not give any specific examples.
Parra also said board members could reduce waste by more closely reviewing contract details before votes.
When asked to describe his second top concern, Parra wants the county board to do what it can to get more local residents jobs.
He proposed creating a policy that would ensure small businesses based in Lake County are awarded at least 25 percent of Lake County government contracts.
State law prohibits giving preferential treatment to local companies when it comes to governmental bids, but Parra insisted "there are legal ways that our government is using now to benefit some companies."
Parra also supported giving limited tax incentives to new businesses as a way to promote economic growth.
Finally, Parra expressed concern about the county's senior-citizen population and said the board needs to complete a long-planned overhaul of the Winchester House nursing home, which is owned by the county but privately operated.
"The topic has been under discussion for three years or more," he said. "It is time to take action now and end any further delays."