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posted: 10/22/2012 12:09 PM

Kane candidates argue over size of government

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  • Jennifer Barconi, left, and Michael Kenyon

      Jennifer Barconi, left, and Michael Kenyon

 
 

Democrat Jennifer Barconi is seeking to unseat Republican Michael Kenyon on the Kane County Board, because she believes it's time for a change.

The South Elgin, Elgin and Bartlett constituency that comprise the 16th District is hurting and tired with the status quo under Kenyon's leadership, said Barconi, 39, of South Elgin. She says Kenyon is out of touch and that she can bring another perspective to the county board.

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"They're fed up with raising the motor fuel tax, they're fed up with the board wanting to spend $12.6 million on a computer system and giving themselves raises," Barconi said during a heated Daily Herald editorial board endorsement session. "That's what I'm hearing door to door. People are struggling to make ends meet, and I think I can be a huge asset to the county board and I have fresh ideas."

Barconi, 39, a sales director and married mother of three children, has never held elected office. In 2010, she ran unsuccessfully for state representative.

If elected, Barconi would support reducing the size of the county board from 24 to 18 members, bringing on a county business manager, talking to local businesses about hiring locals and enacting a pay freeze.

But Kenyon, a South Elgin farmer and married father of three children, accused Barconi of using sound bites without substance.

Kenyon, 68, is seeking his third, 4-year term because he enjoys making the county a better place to live.

He pointed out that two positions already have been eliminated from the board and that the next reduction can't happen until the next census.

He argues that reducing the size further would limit the board to people who are retired or independently wealthy, because with fewer members the workload would increase. Kane County is run quite well in his view, as its property taxes are lower than other counties, he said.

During Kenyon's tenure, the board has eliminated 100 jobs within the past six years and did not replace an economic development position that paid $110,000 a year.

Kenyon said Barconi can't have it both ways.

"If you want to have smaller government, smaller government is less people," Kenyon said. "And you have to be more efficient per person, so it's just a catchphrase just to make it better. We're not status quo."

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