James Kearns: Candidate Profile
Grafton Township Supervisor (4-year Term)
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: Grafton Township Supervisor (4-year Term)
Family: Married 26 Years (Dacia) 3 Children, Erika, Jennifer, Ryan
Occupation: Pet food manufacturing - Owner of Nutri Life Pet Food
Education: B.S. Illinois State University Agricultural Business
Civic involvement: None
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
My top priority is to complete the forensic audit for all past and incomplete audits. It is important that Grafton Township have an accurate accounting for the new upcoming budget year. Grafton Township cannot continue to function or even exist under the current administration's inability or desire not to account for accurate financial information needed to run the day to day operations of the township. We must have a supervisor and board that will work together with total transparency. Grafton Township needs to be run like a business..
Key Issue 2
Another top priority will be to end all of the senseless spending on lawsuits between the Supervisor, Trustees, Road district, and Assessor. These current lawsuits have cost Grafton Township taxpayers somewhere between $500,000 and $800,000; (depending which official you listen to) and could have been avoided if they would just work together to solve their differences. The meetings have been anything but civil. It has been wrong from all sides and the current Supervisor has provided no leadership to end or prevent these legal fees. Grafton Township now finds itself unable to pay the remaining current year bills until the new fiscal year tax revenues arrive in June unless they borrow from the road district or bank. The Grafton Road district has agreed to lend the Township $110,000 which will pay bills until mid March (according to the supervisor). No one really knows how much is needed because they have no cost projections! Most banks won't lend money unless an updated audit is on file. Grafton doesn't have any audits done in recent years. Grafton Township officers have spent the township into near bankruptcy on legal fees.
Key Issue 3
Grafton Township cannot make payroll or pay bills from March to June because they spent all surplus funds on legal bills. The Board needs to do this without cutting services to existing programs such as general assistance, senior busing and other services. It is not the taxpayer's fault the administration has mishandled and wasted the Township funds. Call a truce, fire the lawyers, and begin using common sense.
Name the three most important goals or objectives this board should tackle in the coming term. Prioritize them, and briefly discuss why you believe each to be critical, and how the board should go about addressing them.
1) The New administration needs to first complete all financial audits up to 2012-2013 to gain an accurate accounting of the financial health Grafton Township. We cannot forecast an accurate annual budget until this is complete.
2) I would like to not cut any existing programs and even expand on the senior busing and other programs for the community and believe we can do this after the financial mess is eliminated. During the Feb 20th special meeting to borrow funds from the road district; Supervisor Moore and the trustees stated at best guess they would be short $100,000 per month until new tax revenues arrive in June leaving a huge deficit. It is critical the old and new Administration quickly end all unnecessary legal expenses. There is no more time or excuse to waste money on foolishness. Work together and fire the lawyers!
3) Grafton Township needs to use a purchase order system for all expenditures to insure honesty, accountability, and transparency. Setting up a proper PO system will ensure following accurate accounting and budget guidelines. A line item expense cover sheet could be attached to each bill for each board member to sign that they approve or disapprove the bill. It would then be paid if approved by majority. I would also recommend a co-signer for all checks to insure proper use of funds.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
Eliminating the township level of government will not decrease the size or inefficiency of government. It will increase taxes and wasteful spending with fewer services provided to the township people. While some townships face urban sprawl; they still provide a valuable and efficient way to administer general assistance, senior and local programs which municipalities, counties, state, and federal cannot efficiently or are unwilling to provide to the people. Townships, in cooperation with municipalities, churches, and local organizations, can efficiently increase services provided to the community and needy without increasing taxes. General assistance and tax assessment must be provided with or without townships and I feel Townships are more efficient if managed properly. Township electors will lose the ability to fix problems within the area they live when government breaks down. Look at the Federal and State of Illinois problems we are faced with. Grafton has problems with mismanagement and we can easily fix them by replacing the officials at election time. Not so with higher levels of government. Big government is not better! Big Government is extremely wasteful and diminishes the ability to provide efficient services at the local level.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
The primary responsibility of township is to efficiently administer General assistance for the needy; maintain the township roads and bridges, and to assess the properties within the township.
In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
Every expense incurred in Grafton Township will have to be reviewed to see if there is a cheaper more efficient way to do. I have proposed using a purchase order system to monitor expenses before, when they occur, and after they occur to increase business efficiency of Grafton Township. While I propose there will be no cuts in existing programs except the controversial Linda Moore run food pantry; I will find many savings through efficiency and good business sense. I have stated at the Sun City forum that I will cut the food pantry that Linda Moore began at the township and work to support the original Grafton Food pantry which resides on Allison Ct. People in need will be better served through cooperation with the original pantry. I believe we can find more efficiency with the cooperation between the Road district, the Assessor, and the Township offices. I have also stated that using a Purchase order procedure to account for expenditures will help to control unnecessary and unwanted spending and help identify wasteful spending. If you don't run Grafton Township like a business; wasteful spending will increase and Grafton will then have to cut programs that serve the people. We will actually be able to increase services and aid, while freezing or lowering the tax levy. I only wish our State and Federal level of government ran like a true business. I will run Grafton Township like a business while insuring existing and future programs viability. I have the experience to do that.
What specific background or experience do you bring that makes you the best qualified candidate to serve as an elected official in the township?
I have been a lifelong resident of Huntley. In 1984 I graduated from Illinois State University with Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business. 26 years ago I married my high school sweetheart Dacia, and we moved to our current home and raised our three children, Erika, Jennifer, and, Ryan. I worked 5 years for Dean Foods Transportation as the Driver Relations Manager overseeing 300 drivers. In 1986 I also started my own pet supply distribution company in my garage and it grew to service a 3 state area with 30 employees. After starting my current pet food manufacturing company called Nutri Life Pet Products; I sold the original Pet Supply distribution company in 2006. I continue today as the owner of Nutri Life Pet Products; a holistic pet food distributed to the independent pet retail through a multi state distribution network. I know how to manage a business and stay within a budget. I know how to negotiate in good faith to get the job done. My friends and competitors consider me to be a practical hardworking person of high moral integrity and a person who honors and keeps all agreements. I am a leader who can work with anyone and can restore Grafton Township's financial and moral integrity.
I would like to be elected to the Grafton Township Supervisor position because I will provide the leadership to end the lawsuits; balance the budget without having to make unnecessary cuts in services. In fact, I feel Grafton Township can expand some services such as busing and senior programs after the legal fees stop and the audits are complete. There will be a financial catch up period for 2013 since the township will begin the new fiscal year $300,000 in the hole due to the mismanagement and lawsuits. I will install a purchase order procedure for all town purchases to control cost. I call it as I see it and will run the office with common sense and transparency. I am running as the independent candidate for Grafton Township supervisor along with my fellow Independent candidates ; Tim Hoeft-Road Commissioner; Terra Jensen- Assessor; Joe Holtorf, Tammy Lueth, and Dan Ziller Jr. as Trustees. Please vote for us on April 9, 2013
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