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Office sought: Hanover Township Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Husband, Michael S. Benoit Daughters, Michelle Benoit,Taylor Benoit and Kelly Benoit
Occupation: I am a licensed attorney, but currently not practicing law. I am a Masters of Arts in Secondary Education Candidate at National Louis University and an active Community Volunteer
Education: Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Broadcast Journalism/Bradley University. JD from IIT-Kent College of Law. Master of Arts in Secondary Education Candidate/ National Louis University.
Civic involvement: Current Involvement in Community Theater and Children's Theater Current Member of Northwest Suburban Lincoln Day Dinner Committee Current member of Hanover Elects Responsible Officials Former Girl Scout Volunteer (15 years) Former Hanover Township Mental Health Board (9 years) Former St. John the Evangelist School Board Member(6 years) Former St. John the Evangelist Athletic Director (7 years)
Elected offices held: Hanover Township Trustee
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
My number one campaign issue is to continue to supply high quality services to the community without raising taxes. Hanover Township has been able to deliver and even in some cases expand Township services without any tax increases for the last two years. I think the Township can continue to offer these services without a tax increase in the near future through prudent financial management of Township resources.
Key Issue 2
While it has improved during my tenure on the board, I feel many in the area remain uninformed about the vast array of services we offer at Hanover Township. I would like to continue to increase public awareness to our services and develop even stronger ties with our community partners to efficiently deliver services to as many residents as possible.
Key Issue 3
My third campaign issue is a personal one, to try and bring more civility to our local government. While I have great pride in being a part of our wonderful community, I often feel that public officials need to lead by example by demonstrating more civility and integrity. I am on a personal campaign to put an end to the name calling, petty arguments and "taking sides" that takes focus away from the true purpose of government, which is service to the people. There are many people in local government that I disagree with from time to time, but I will not allow that to stand in the way of working with every official for the good of the people. As demonstrated by the current state of our Illinois and national political climate, hostility doesn't solve anything. There isn't much I can do about incivility there, but I can and will do whatever I can to keep it out of our local government.
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.
First of all, we should continue to be fiscally responsible to get the most out of our taxpayer dollar. This will become increasingly challenging as residents needs rise and funding from other sources are diminished or eliminated. To do this, we must guard against waste and work with other agencies and governments to pool valuable resources. Secondly, Hanover Township must continue to find new ways to improve the quality of life for our residents. New initiatives to help people find employment and become self sufficient are being implemented at the Township and will need time and money to develop and succeed. Hanover Township needs to increase and strengthen community partnerships so that we can work with our municipalities, county and state to improve the quality of life in Hanover Township and our surrounding communities. Lastly, Hanover Township must continue to be open and transparent in its affairs so that the good residents of Hanover Township will see and know exactly how their taxpayer dollars are being spent. Many call for the elimination of township government in Illinois, but I truly believe that if people were fully informed on what a well run Township could provide for their community, that argument would soon be muted. I cannot speak for other townships, but I am proud to "open the books" at Hanover Township so that all can see what good, responsive local government can do. We have come a long way toward transparency in the last four years, but we can do even better to keep residents informed and engaged.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
A well run township such as Hanover Township is needed now more than ever. Already most of our residents live within the boundaries of municipalities, but these governmental branches do not offer the services that we do. Our social services are the heartbeat of what we offer the community and should continue to be so. Community welfare, youth and family services, community health, seniors services, emergency management and veterans affairs are all departments that serve our residents well without duplicating services of other forms of government. The state and county are cutting back or have eliminated many services and local Townships such as Hanover are providing help at the local level efficiently and effectively. We live in these neighborhoods, we see what the residents need and we try to meet those needs on a personal as well as professional level. There is nothing as close to "government for the people and by the people" as Township government and "neighbor helping neighbor". That is what Hanover Township does, that is what all townships should do.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
I believe the primary responsibility of township government should be the delivery of localized social services and administrative support for our unincorporated areas in the township. Additionally, townships can work collaborative with other government and non-government agencies to bring much needed services closer to where residents live and work.
In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
We haven't raised taxes in two years, and hope to be able to continue that trend into the near future. Comparatively, the Hanover Township levy is a small fraction of our residents' tax bills. Still, realizing that every cent is precious, I don't advocate waste in any department. Rather than cutting programs, the board has directed our departments to trim expenses wherever possible without diminishing the quality of service. At times, we have asked our departments to do more with less, and our talented employees have risen to the occasion. We are reducing energy costs throughout the township with our "green" initiative. We look for every grant opportunity available to expand our funding without raising taxes. Investing in technology has enabled us to eliminate at least one part time clerical position in the past year, and fewer hires will be needed in the future for clerical positions as our offices become more technology efficient. I do not advocate the elimination of any programs at this time, and actually hope to add some in the coming year without raising taxes by using resources,personnel and community partnerships more effectively.
What specific background or experience do you bring that makes you the best qualified candidate to serve as an elected official in the township?
As an incumbent, I have four years of experience on the Hanover Township Board of Trustees. Those have been a valuable four years and I have learned a great deal about our township and our residents. I also served on the Hanover Township Mental Health Board for nine years prior to becoming a trustee, so it is safe to say Hanover Township has been a part of my life for many years. My background as an attorney and a newly certified teacher and longtime youth volunteer give me insight to the legal issues facing government today as well as the challenges many of our young people face today. In addition to my involvement in many Hanover Township activities, my active membership in one of the largest religious congregations in the Township and its many outreach programs has helped me to meet people from all walks and stages in life, granting me personal knowledge about the needs and values of our community.