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updated: 11/1/2012 6:05 PM

Fabyan redevelopment a sticking point in Kane District 11 race

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  • Martha Hanna

    Martha Hanna

  • Mike Donahue

    Mike Donahue


The redevelopment of the Settler's Hill landfill/old Kane County jail site in Geneva is one issue on which there is a wide difference of opinion between county board District 11 candidates Mike Donahue and Martha Hanna.

Republican Donahue was chairman of a county board task force that put together the concept plan the county board and forest preserve commission recently approved. It proposes a commercial hotel or resort, golf courses, mountain biking trails, running trails and an outdoor amphitheater. The county is doing an economic feasibility study to see if the market supports this plan.

But Democrat Hanna disagrees, saying the county should first do an environmental study to see what kind of items the landfill areas can safely handle. "With public hearings and EPA findings, I think we can come up with a better plan for the county then the one that is proposed by the task force," she wrote in a Daily Herald questionnaire. Hanna was involved with a residents group, For Lands Sake, that lobbied the county to move the mountain bike trails and the amphitheater out of Fabyan Forest Preserve's east woods.

"The mission of the county is not development, but to be good stewards," she said.

Donahue said that when he took office in 2010, he was struck by the fact that, since the landfill's closure in 2006, "little had been done to move, to lead, development forward." He also said that it is the county board's intention to develop the land with the Enterprise Fund, user fees and federal and state grants, not property tax dollars -- so it won't be "a budget buster."

Hanna supports the state's attorney's and public defender's request to raise the pay of their workers, but said she is not sure where the money to do so would come from.

She won't take county health insurance, because she is insured through her husband's job, but supports having it available for county board members. She won't take the pension benefits, however. "I think it is stupid for a part-time person to collect the pension," Hanna said.

Donahue proposes eliminating both perks, and using the money instead to pay for a county administrator. Managing 1,250 county employees while also developing policy and running the county board is tough timewise, he said. Having an administrator could lead to greater efficiency, and that could save the county money, he said.

Hanna, 58, lives in Batavia. She has been an election judge, and has volunteered as a tutor at the Juvenile Justice Center.

Donahue, 51, was elected to the board in 2010. He's a former Geneva city planner, and an owner of Midwest Wind Energy.

"I might have less experience, but I'm a fast learner," said Hanna, who ran after being solicited by the Kane County Democratic Central Committee.

"Local government has always interested me, and I liked the mission of the (county) board," Hanna said.

She noted that with redistricting after the 2010 Census, District 11 now includes little of Batavia. She expects Donahue will benefit from his longtime residency and business and personal connections in Geneva.

Donahue points out that he has relatives, friends and business associates in Batavia. "Fabyan Parkway is not a wall between Geneva and Batavia," he said of concerns about representation.

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