Political newcomer Kevin Smith, a Democrat, is taking on Republican incumbent Maggie Auger in the newly drawn 23rd Kane County Board District. While Auger is touting her two years of experience on the board and legal background in a pitch for re-election, Smith is hoping voters want to try someone new.
Smith, of Carpentersville, said he got into the race because he opposed the idea of gravel mining in the Brunner Forest Preserve in Dundee Township. The board has shelved that possibility and Smith has shifted his major campaign issue to taxes. The former union carpenter and labor organizer is sure the county can do better.
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"It just feels like people's property taxes are not coming down with the values of their homes," Smith said. "I believe that the county could do a little bit better job of looking into more efficiency with their expenditures or try to reduce any redundancies."
He points to the computer system upgrade being discussed for the county courts that could cost more than $12 million, saying the price seems ridiculous and there has to be a cheaper way to do it.
Auger, of Algonquin, supports the system upgrade and said the latest numbers from a task force studying the purchase claim the price tag will be lower than originally expected. Auger said the purchase would be an investment in a system that would save money, increase efficiency and prepare the county for future demands.
She supports using a portion of mass transit sales tax money and increasing circuit court clerk filing fees to pay for the system.
Auger also voted to keep the county's overall tax levy flat. Like Smith, she has heard from constituents, and tax bills are their largest complaint.
"In an economy that we have now where people have lost jobs and haven't been able to get a new job, it's important to keep the taxes as low as possible," Auger said.
Even though the county is a very small portion of a resident's overall tax bill, Auger said she would do her best to control it, naming fiscal responsibility as her key campaign issue.
Her priorities also include economic development, water supply planning to protect the quality and quantity of water for future generations and transportation projects like securing state funding for the Longmeadow Parkway Bridge Corridor.
Smith wants more practical, enforceable ethics reform and scoffs at all the time spent talking about the current ethics ordinance that still leaves the county open to a legal challenge.
"I don't see why you should spend more than a year trying to figure out what the difference between right and wrong is," Smith said.
For him it's simple -- don't accept campaign contributions from people who do business with the county and, if you do, abstain from voting on issues affecting those people.
Auger was elected in 2010 and is hoping to add a 4-year term to her start in county government. She works part-time as an attorney.
District 23 includes portions of Algonquin, Carpentersville and Dundee Township.