The Republican and Democratic candidates for the Kane County Board District 20 race both rank fiscal responsibility at the top of their priorities.
Incumbent Democrat Cristina Castro was the lone "no" vote on the finance committee for a 3 percent property tax levy increase this year. Her opponent, Henoch Fuentes, is adamant about no new taxes. And there is plenty neither candidate wants to pay for in the current economy.
Fuentes, an Elgin pastor and counselor, said he is not a politician but an average citizen hurting like many other workers in the community. He does not support any levy increases or expenditures on new government projects.
"It's not the time to make new buildings," Fuentes said. "It's time to tighten the belt."
Castro, who is running for her second term, is opposed to the proposals for an entertainment venue at the site of the Settler's Hill landfill in Batavia. While Fuentes says now is simply not the time to think about such large projects because of the cost, Castro has honed in on the potential environmental consequences of the project.
The possibility of methane gas leaks from the property concern Castro as well as the liability the county would have to deal with should health problems arise. She also worries neighbors of the site would be unduly burdened by increased traffic and noise. And there's no guarantee the entertainment facility would be a success, Castro said.
"I'm totally against Settler's Hill," Castro said. "I think we're moving way too fast on something like that."
She supports holding off on funding major projects until the new Kane County Board chairman takes office and newly elected board members join the table. That includes paying to upgrade the county court computer system that she acknowledges is necessary, but based on the offers the board has heard so far, too expensive. The most recent estimates put the cost at as much as $12.6 million.
Fuentes said private donors, companies and political parties should contribute to the software purchase with no more than $5 million coming from the county.
And while he doesn't support new capital expenditures, Fuentes does think the county should find money for social services. He advocates contributing to the Salvation Army Golden Diners program to help seniors on fixed incomes get hot meals five days per week. And he supports rehabilitation and counseling programs for jail inmates, like the ones he led in DuPage County jails.
Fuentes moved to the United States from Chile about 25 years ago. He worked in Elgin Area School District U-46 before shifting to work in the DuPage County jails 10 years ago. Through his candidacy and potential service as a board member, Fuentes wants to teach Latinos in Elgin about the board and the role these elected officials play in the community. He said he respects Castro and thinks she has done a good job but wants a new face representing the 20th District.
Castro, a lifelong Elginite, is seeking re-election to continue the work she started in 2008, seeking out new efficiencies and new ideas for the county.