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updated: 2/22/2013 6:09 PM

Thomas Gooch: Candidate Profile

Cuba Township Highway Commissioner (4-year Term) (Independent)

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  • Thomas Gooch, running for Cuba Township Highway Commissioner (4-year Term)

      Thomas Gooch, running for Cuba Township Highway Commissioner (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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Lake Barrington

Website: http://www.tomgooch.com

Office sought: Cuba Township Highway Commissioner (4-year Term)

Age: 63

Family: Married to Deborah, Three Children and Three Grandchildren

Occupation: Cuba Township Highway Commissioner

Education: GED at Ft. Polk, La while in basic training by the US Army B.A. Loyola University 1975 J.D. John Marshall Law School 1978 Hwy Commissioners of IL certified Hwy Commissioner IL. CDL with Air Brakes Endorsement Certified Ice and Snow Supervisor by APWA

Civic involvement: U.S. Army 1966 to 1972, including service in Vietnam 1966 & 1967 Cuba Township Attorney 1983 to 2002 contributing many hours pro bono to the township Board of Directors Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lake County 1982 1983 Chairman Zoning Board of Appeals of Lake Barrington 1992 1995 Trustee, Treasurer President of Barrington Country Side Fire Protection District 1995 - 2006 Cuba Township Highway Commissioner since 2002 Masonic fraternity since 1983

Elected offices held: Cuba Township Highway Commissioner 2002-present

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: I was arrested for misdemeanor battery based on an accusation made by a disgruntled township employee on March 11, 2011. I continuously protested my innocence at every opportunity both publicly and privately. In September of 2011 my case was tried and I was found not guilty. For me it was a demonstration that the system does work. It was a humbling and humiliating experience that tested my faith in our legal system, but in fact validated the work I have devoted a good portion of my life to. I gained a great deal of patience and humility throughout the process and it has made me a better person.

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

I believe we must continue to regionalize the road district by expanding intergovernmental agreements. This will allow the Cuba Township Road District to take on the maintenance of more village roads thus decreasing their road budget requirements and saving the taxpayers millions of dollars.

Key Issue 2

We should continue to work with neighboring townships to increase manpower sharing and equipment costs. Road maintenance is a universal need with consistent, defined projects that differ little from town to town. Full time use of personnel and equipment across township lines increases the completed work to tax dollar ratio. These actions will save taxpayers their hard-earned money.

Key Issue 3

We should involve the public as much as possible in the taxing process and budgeting process to increase transparency and civic involvement. The taxpayers have a right to know and a voice to provide guidance on tax dollar expenditures.

Questions & Answers

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. I pioneered the regionalization concept when I wrote the first intergovernmental agreement with Tower Lakes in the late 80's. Since then we have expanded the practice into all of the villages in Cuba Township. We have responsibility now for 105 miles of roads year round and 170 miles of roads during the winter. I intend to try to expand services to all the villages during the coming four years to include all services we do year round and offer more advanced technology and capabilities to the villages. This has provided a revenue source to the Road District as well as effective cost savings to the villages. It is a win-win situation for the units of government as well as the taxpayers. 2. For road districts to survive the extinction of townships they will need to demonstrate their ability to reduce costs. I intend to continue my policy of sharing manpower, equipment and joint operations with nearby townships. 3. Townships are unique because they offer the electorate substantial budgetary power at the annual town meeting. The township does a very poor job of publicizing this information. I want to see the electorate more involved in deciding the future of the township and the road district. The law allows the electorate to determine the tax rate for the main tax fund for the road district every year at the annual town meeting. The Township board should encourage citizen participation. The next yearly budget and tax levies are determined at each annual meeting and the Township board has the opportunity to voluntarily follow the wishes and direction of the people at that meeting. A major publicity drive to attract voters to attend that meeting is essential if we are to end the practice of having a small turnout of regulars shaping Township budgets and policies.

In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?

In their present form, most townships are not needed. I differentiate between townships and road districts however in this statement because they are separate political entities who share a common name. Road districts are a needed, cost effective entity capable of serving multiple communities. Small road districts need to either expand services to others within and near the district to reduce overall costs or consider consolidation with adjoining road districts, which the law allows. This would be done by creating a consolidated district with one commissioner. The county has neither the manpower nor equipment for small unincorporated areas and the villages certainly lack the funding. Consolidation or elimination of very small road districts is appropriate. Likewise, Townships cannot exist solely to operate food pantries, take passport applications, handle early voting and assessing. The laws need to change to allow Townships adjoining each other to consolidate. Right now the law allows consolidated assessment districts and that process should begin immediately. Consolidation will save taxpayer money.

What should be the primary responsibility of township government?

I can speak only of the road district. Our primary responsibility remains our roads and our function as first responders during weather and/or disaster events. In the case of the Cuba Township Road District, we remain responsible for our villages and provide services to other units of local government. We need to continue expanding that role and reducing costs for all of us, while serving the taxpayers.

In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?

I have maintained a high quality of service throughout my tenure. I have done that with diminishing revenue each year over the past several years. Our tax revenue to the road district is over $200,000.00 less this year then it was four years ago. Still, I have maintained an excellent level of service. Our staff works hard! During this past year we eliminated one employee position, we were successful in obtaining outside grant revenue and developed other revenue sources by providing fleet services to other units of local government. I intend to continue policies that improve efficiencies. We need to review benefit packages for elected officials and for employees. I have advocated the abolition of Cuba Township's "golden parachute" insurance retirement program whereby an employee or official has the taxpayer paying a portion of their health insurance after retirement for many years. This is outrageous and I will continue to advocate to the Township Trustees that it should be eliminated. Likewise, other insurance benefits need to be shouldered more by the elected officials and less by our taxpayers. The taxpayers of Cuba Township should not be paying for adult children on the township's health insurance plan, but they are. I will continue arguing this point and for other benefit changes to the Township Board of Trustees. It is a bad practice in my opinion.

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 provided cost-effective and efficient snow plowing, drainage and road maintenance and repair services to the township. I also have worked with all of Cuba Township's communities, forming intergovernmental agreements that have saved millions of taxpayer dollars. I created the Township Road District's popular electronics recycling and free mulch & firewood programs. In addition, I have privately researched salt usage on our roads and have reduced per lane mile salt distribution by more than 50% during my tenure. In short, I have worked hard to improve our Cuba Township infrastructure, enhanced our plowing services and lessened our environmental impact as the Cuba Township Highway Commissioner. I have been involved in local government in a variety of roles since 1983 as well, which gives me a great deal of understanding into our communities. Over the last 2 decades, I have proven the ability to work within the confines of local government, but also have been creative in finding solutions that work for taxpayers and other units of government. My endorsements from Village Presidents in Cuba Township, the leaders whom I have worked with to benefit their communities, demonstrates the professional, cost effective level of performance that is the standard of the Cuba Township Road District under my leadership.

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