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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.
City: Lake Zurich
Office sought: Ela Township Assessor (4-year Term)
Family: I live in Lake Zurich with my wife, Bonnie and our five children. We are active in our Church and enjoy volunteering with local organizations and at community events.
Occupation: I was elected your Assessor in 2009, but have been with the Assessor's office since 2005. Prior: Served as a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman with Marine Corps during two tours in Iraq where I was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon and numerous other citations.
Education: Certified Illinois Assessing Officer and State Licensed Appraiser with over 250 hours of education in the assessment field. I expect to graduate from Eastern Illinois University this Spring with my Bachelor's degree
Civic involvement: Commander of the Lake Zurich American Legion Post 964 Charter member of the Tri County Leathernecks detachment of the Marine Corps League Member of the Lake Zurich Veterans of Foreign Wars Member of the Lake Zurich Lions Club Current member of the Lake County Medical Reserve Corps Polling Place manager for disaster relief efforts Chair of the Education Committee for the Lake County Township Assessors Association Member of the International Association of Assessing Officers Member of Illinois Assessors Association
Elected offices held: Current Ela Township Assessor
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
My number one concern is the tax burden that is placed upon the residents of Ela Township. The home you own is your most valuable asset. The tax burden placed on that home should be equitable and fair. Young families must be able to survive financially; senior citizens should be able to stay in their homes. When assessments are applied unfairly, none of this can happen. Unfair assessments shift the burden of the taxes and could make a home harder to sell or much worse; harder to live in. The people of Ela Township deserve someone who has the experience to apply the statutory requirements in a fair and consistent manner. I fully understand the struggles residents face as I am currently raising my own family here in Ela Township.
Key Issue 2
I feel that the most important thing on property owners? minds is how the current economic situation will affect their assessment and ultimately their tax bill. We need an experienced candidate that has the most assessment training and qualifications that will address this issue in the best possible way while following the current state laws. The residents shouldn't settle for on the job training and learn as you go assessing, the process is too complex. Demand Experience and Knowledge!
Key Issue 3
I would like to expand our community outreach programs and continue to reach out to help educate property owners on the assessment process and ensure homeowners are aware of the tax saving exemptions that are available. I have had the benefit of meeting with hundreds of property owners, speak to various groups, and have hosted multiple events all in an attempt to do these very things. My goal would be to use the various tools we have such as our Facebook.com/ElaAssessor page, Twitter (@ElaAssessor), and our newsletter to keep our residents informed and further open up the Assessor's office to residents.
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.
With everything going on in the economy, fiscal responsibility is crucial. Ela Township has done a great job of maintaining and expanding vital programs without the need for referendums or incurring any debt. How many government bodies do you know with zero debt in this day and age? Thru sound strategic planning, Ela Township has maintained a balanced budget, remained debt free for over 8 years and will continue to do so under the leadership of Ela First. The increase in intergovernmental relationships has been crucial in this endeavor and helps ensure there is no duplication of services. The township should continue to evaluate programs to ensure that they are adequately serving our residents and being provided in the most efficient way possible. The board should focus on continuing to listen to the needs of residents and provide vital services while maintaining a balanced budget and not incurring debt. Residents deserve open, honest, and transparent government. The township has worked over the past four years to provide more than the minimum required information online in an effort to make items easily accessible to residents. I would like to continue to put more information online for residents to access.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
There are many services the township provides that municipalities don't, such as, the assessor's office, general assistance, the social work program, the senior center, pace bus services for the senior and disabled as well as many others. Most importantly the township does this with having zero debt, a balanced budget, and a low tax levy. Compare what you pay to your village and the services you get to what you pay to the township for even more.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
Serving the people. A nice thing about townships is we can have a local place to go to or call where you can speak to a courteous and knowledgeable person and have your concerns addressed locally without dealing with the bureaucracy of larger units of government. Township government is known for being the closest to the people. There are functions such as the Assessor's job that are best suited at the local level where knowledge of the immediate area is beneficial. Our Social Work program and General Assistance is best managed right where the people are. There is a convenience for the people so you do not need to travel to Waukegan to speak to your elected officials, verify your assessment or tax exemptions, register to vote, take advantage of our medical equipment lending closet, or receive a handicap placard. Ela Township does so much, but unless something is broken or you need a specific service, many may not realize what we do. Most residents pay less than $250 each year to the township for all of the services provided, what a value! The misconception is that if you eliminate the township, that you will save big money on your tax bill each year. The problem is, some larger unit of government will need to provide the services, and they won't be able to do it for only $250 a year. Township government takes advantage of part time workers, typically has no unions, and has lower wages than many other units of government. There have been studies conducted on actual consolidations that show an increase in spending afterwards with decreased service levels. Does anyone remember the big snow a few years ago when state and county roads took over a week to fully clear? How long would it have taken them to plow your residential street if they couldn't open the main roads?
In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
Every time the township writes a check it affects the tax burden and they should be aware of it. The Assessor's budget contains the items necessary to run the office and create assessments and I have reduced my budget over the past few years to do my part to help reduce the tax burden. While there may not be services or programs that should be cut entirely, I believe the township has done a good job in reviewing and modifying the budget when spending can be done more efficiently. The township regularly saves over multiple years for road and building projects rather than incur debt with bonds, mortgages, or creating SSA?s, all in an effort to create efficiencies for the taxpayer. This requires fiscal responsibility and planning to accomplish. A person with a tax bill of $5,000 will pay around $125 to the township and a tax bill of $10,000 will pay around $250. I believe the township provides great value when you consider we provide assessments, road maintenance, general assistance, a wonderful senior and youth program, vital social services, and much more.
What specific background or experience do you bring that makes you the best qualified candidate to serve as an elected official in the township?
First and foremost I have assessment experience. I know the programs, reports, and laws that govern assessments. Mass Appraisal is very different from the single property appraisals done by Real Estate Appraisers. While I am a licensed Appraiser with the State of Illinois, I am also a Certified Illinois Assessing Officer with over 250 hours of assessment education which provides the base knowledge on mass appraisal. The majority of my knowledge comes from my experiences in the Assessor's Office since 2005, specifically doing mass appraisals. No amount of classwork can replace over seven years of hand on experience here in Ela Township.