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posted: 10/26/2012 10:01 AM

Kane candidates spar over raises, campaigning

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  • Jennifer Barconi and Michael Kenyon

      Jennifer Barconi and Michael Kenyon

 
 

Aside from the fact that they're both married and have three children and live in South Elgin, Michael Kenyon and Jennifer Barconi, have very little in common.

Kenyon, 68, is the running for a third term on the Kane County Board in the 16th District, which includes parts of South Elgin, Elgin and Bartlett. Barconi, 39, has never held elected office but ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2010.

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Kenyon, a Republican, spent much of a recent Daily Herald editorial board endorsement interview defending himself against Barconi, a Democrat.

The pair sparred over whether raises are necessary for county employees, whether the board should have laid off health department employees and the necessity of a new court computer system. Barconi even accused Kenyon of not knocking on doors.

"Well I didn't know I had a GPS monitor on," Kenyon said. "I go door-to-door, too, and I went door-to-door in the primary and I'm going door-to-door now. People know that Mike Kenyon is the guy that really cares about what they're doing."

But Barconi wasn't buying it.

"That's interesting, because all the doors I go to, no one knows of you, so I don't know who you're listening to," Barconi told Kenyon. "Just an observation."

Barconi, a sales director, said she is running because the voters she's encountered have told her the status quo has got to go.

Kenyon, a farmer, said he is running to maintain the progress he says he's made the eight years he's been in office. He accuses Barconi of saying things that sound nice, but that don't carry much weight.

When it comes to raises for county employees, Barconi would oppose them, because the residents she's talked to don't support it.

A county board committee had considered -- but has since decided against -- raising the property tax levy and using that money to give raises to county employees.

"We're supposed to represent the people and they don't feel at this time in this economy that they should be getting raises," Barconi said, adding that raises should have been approved when the economy was better.

Kenyon said raises are necessary to keep employees in the state's attorney's office from jumping ship -- and he supported raising court fees to cover it.

"There's no easy answer to any of this stuff," Kenyon said.

As for layoffs in the county health department, Barconi criticized Kenyon for his vote that authorized the terminations. She said that could have been averted if Kenyon asked the state to expedite its payments to the county.

"People are out of work," Barconi said. "You laid off 60 people. Sixty people."

Kenyon said he supported the layoffs because the jobs those employees did already exist in the private sector. And while the board could have requested a speedy payment, Kenyon isn't sure the county would have gotten the money before hospitals and nursing homes.

"We found them new jobs," Kenyon said of the downsized workers. "The state is 42 weeks behind. Run a business like that."

Regarding a new court computer system to replace the ill-functioning one now in use, Kenyon supports buying a new system that's hopefully, cheaper than the oft quoted $12.6 million. Barconi would rather do research to see whether cheaper upgrades are available.

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