District 8s Vazquez talks roads, budgeting
"It's been fun," Jesse Vazquez says when asked why he wants another term on the Kane County Board.
The fun has included budget battles between the board and elected officials; lawsuits against the board by the circuit court clerk; and several years of debate over the adoption of an ethics ordinance.
"The first four years were very interesting," the Democrat from Montgomery said.
He has a passion for improving roads in his district. He broke into a grin when mentioning the widening of Orchard Road that wrapped up this fall. Still on his list is getting a "failing" Montgomery Road to be repaved.
Asked of which vote he is most proud, Vazquez recalls the 62 health department workers who were laid off in 2010 due to budget cuts. Vazquez and 12 other board members forced the county to take a month to look for other options. It was a "train wreck," Vazquez said. The end result was programs were saved and at least the workers got another 30 days of work and more advance notice so they could look for another job.
Vazquez, an insurance agent, is married with three children. His opponent is Gregory Nelson of Montgomery.
• Raising the pay of prosecutors and public defenders: "The people back home don't want to see anybody get any raises," he said, but he also realizes Kane County loses employees to those other counties. He supports trying to figure out a way to get the raises done.
• Vazquez thinks the county should be prioritizing what "state mandates" it has to fulfill — those that really matter, and "others, not so much." He's developed some immunity to the cries of department heads and elected officials about budget cuts the board requested, such as the year it asked for a 5 percent cut. "They cried about it and complained about it, but they got it done," he said. He'd like to avoid touching the transportation budget.
• Developing the Fabyan campus: Vazquez would like to see the old jail site sold and back on the property tax rolls.
• County board efficiency: "An administrator might take some of the politics out of the day-to-day" operation of the county, Vazquez said. Sue Klinkhamer, fellow Democrat and candidate for Kane County Board chairman, supports this. Chris Lauzen, her Republican opponent, does not.
• Ethics: Vazquez cites fellow Democrat Myrna Molina on this. He likes the tougher ethics ordinance the board adopted, even though two state's attorneys have said parts of it are in conflict with state law and therefore unenforceable. Bring it on, Vazquez said. "Who will challenge it as being too tough? I want to see that," he said.
• Vazquez supported the development of the forest preserve's Big Rock campsite. "We do not have the space like they have up here in the center of the county," he said of his district. He noted he has locked horns with conservative Republican T.R. Smith, on the matter. Smith, a Hampshire Township farmer, talks a lot about "what the real needs are" vs. wants.
"You have to be within one of the cities to appreciate open space," Vazquez has told him.
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