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: Avon Township Supervisor (4-year Term)
Age: Candidate did not respond.
Family: Wife Anne K Richmond and mother Norma Esmeralda Fernandez
Occupation: Owner of Douglas Raul Williams Insurance Brokers and Consultants, Ombudsman/Outreach Coordinator for Family Service N.F.P Northwest Lake County "Access to Care" senior program, University of Illinois Extension Grayslake, Lake County 4-H Program
Education: Associates from Wright College- Chicago Business Management Degree, National Louis University- Chicago
Civic involvement: I am an Air Force veteran and active in a growing list of non-profit organizations throughout Lake County including Treasurer of the Latino Coalition of Lake County, Steering Committee Member forLeave No Child Inside,? with Friends of Ryerson Woods, Member Board of Directors of YouthBuild Lake County, Member of American Legion Post 1170 in Round Lake Park and Steering Committee Member of the Round Lake High School "School Based Health Center" advisory committee
Elected offices held: Round Lake Area School District 116 Board of Education member elected April 2009-March 2012 Avon Township Trustee Appointed March 2012-present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
I would like to keep the township property taxes flat for the next four years in order to continue providing tax relief to homeowners while still having the ability to react to changes in the economy and provide our core services.
Key Issue 2
Work in collaboration with all seven municipalities to create a strategic plan to run Avon as a successful Township
Key Issue 3
Partner with businesses & community organizations to ensure that Avon Township maximizes the budget to benefit our 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.
Finding new non-taxpayer grant revenue would be a priority for me in partnership with Avon Township Foundation. The initial mission of townships, since their inception in the 1800's and continuing to today, has been to provide assistance to those that are in need. By being a full time supervisor and utilizing my numerous professional relationships, I would create new capacity building programs that have never been offered by the township, for youth, seniors, veterans, and residents that utilize our food pantry. Prior to being appointed Avon Township Trustee in March 2012, I worked with Sam Yingling to bring Family Service's "Access to Care" program into the township to provide counseling and health services to low-income seniors. This is a perfect example of the partnerships I would build with non-profits, foundations and community organizations to bring in new services without impacting property taxes. Another priority for me would be to partner with the local business community to help market our downtown and commercial areas, for example in Round Lake, Round Lake Park and Grayslake. This would help generate new sales revenue and stimulate our local economy while in the long term lowering our poverty rate. Grayslake has a new business corridor along Allegheny, Peterson Road and Route 83 that has already created 250 new jobs for the area through the new FedEx facility. Avon Township could certainly partner with the Grayslake to promote the business corridor and help generate new jobs that would help reduce the number of families that need to seek out township services. The third priority would be to improve the communication between Avon Township and the municipalities it encompasses, including Grayslake, Third Lake, Round Lake Park, Round Lake, Round Lake Heights, Round Lake Beach, Hainesville, and the other local taxing bodies. There are so many issues impacting the township, such as unemployment, foreclosures, and the poverty rate, that no one entity can have any major impact on these issues. I have a good relationship with the majority of the mayors after serving on the Round Lake Area Consolidated School District 116 Board of Education, which covered five of the seven municipalities, in Avon Township. As taxing entities, we should be meeting quarterly to address and prioritize the needs of each village in a comprehensive strategic plan for Avon Township. The taxpayers are ultimately paying property taxes to all these separate taxing bodies, so it makes sense that we should be sharing ideas and resources to improve the quality of life and help keep the local tax burden low overall.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
Avon Township provides food, shelter and emergency relief for families in need until they are able to support themselves. We also operate an emergency food bank that guarantees the necessities of life for children. Lake County government and the State of Illinois have reduced their budget for primary healthcare and behavioral services which impacts low-income families in Avon Township and increases the probability of those families needing our services. The new role that townships need to fill is capacity building so the amount of families that utilize our services does not grow but actually diminishes. Examples are: organizing job fairs for the unemployed or referring them to employment training services, foreclosure prevention counseling services with community partners, marketing our General Aid and Emergency Aid programs so we minimize homelessness, and after school tutoring programs for at risk students in partnership with D116 and D46. Again this would help reduce the probability that these students will drop out of school and end up in poverty therefore needing township services.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
The primary function of township government from inception was and is to help those in need in our community. The township government should strive to diminish the number of families that need township services for long periods of time. Building partnerships for capacity building programs versus just keeping families dependent on township services will be key going forward. The township also has to be creative in order to keep the tax burden low and bring relief to families that are "staying above water" but still struggling to pay their bills.
In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
The highway department probably has the most opportunities for efficiencies since it does not deal with the core mission of helping the needy. Utilizing more part-time and seasonal employees,scheduling employees appropriately so overtime is not incurred,would help reduce labor cost. Partnering with the county or local municipalities on capital projects and applying for grants would reduce overall costs that could be passed on to tax payers with lower levies.
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 was elected to the Round Lake Area Consolidated School District 116 Board of Education and served from 2009-2012 and helped manage it to independence from the State Financial Authority after 10 years. I helped create/chaired the first financial subcommittee in 2011 to advise the school board on how to best manage their $68 million dollar budget. I also serve on numerous non-profits boards within Lake County on finance committees and have a reputation for being ethical, objective, and a problem solver. I am also an entrepreneur and established my own insurance brokerage four years ago This has taught me to do more with less, operate within a budget, and treat my customers? money like it is my own. Finally I have over 20 years management experience in the profit/non-profit world which gives me an insight into their capabilities in order to partner with them to improve our community.