Elgin candidates for Kane County Board talk priorities

Voters have distinct choices between Randy Hopp and Willie Clements, Democratic primary candidates for Kane County Board District 22.

Hopp said he'll work toward keeping the county's property tax levy flat, and his top priority will be to ask to serve on the board's finance committee. The county board has not increased the levy for five years but it's unclear how long that can last, he said. "I'm hoping that will be able to continue."

Clements said he wants to be an advocate for social services to ensure mental health, meal programs and preschool services don't get funding cuts. "I want to be there fighting for the population. I want to be a strong advocate for that," he said.

The district comprises the Elgin's far west side, where both candidates said they want to work on easing traffic congestion along Roue 20.

The candidates have different opinions on a project to build Longmeadow Parkway, a 5.6-mile road from Huntley Road in Dundee Township to Route 62 in Barrington Hills. The road, at a cost of $135 million, will pass through Algonquin, Carpentersville and Barrington Hills, and will include a four-lane toll bridge over the Fox River.

Even though it might help congestion in the Algonquin area, the project is financially risky because it assumes revenues from tolls will repay millions in bonds, Hopp said. "People avoid (tolls)," he said. The backup idea using gas tax funds also is sketchy, because those funds are typically earmarked, he said.

Clements, on the other hand, said he supports the Longmeadow project because it will help relieve traffic gridlock in the area. "I think it can work and I think it's important," he said.

Clements said he's "a maybe" regarding plans to redevelop the former Settler's Hill landfill near Geneva.

A fund for that purpose has accrued about $9 million, and some say that turning the area into a cross-country course could bring in revenues. "I like the idea of open space and walking trails, and also that it can generate revenues," he said.

Any approach to redevelopment on the site should be nuanced, Hopp said.

The old growth forest on the west portion should remain undisturbed, and plans to create a music venue there without cutting any trees are "not believable," he said. Development on the south and east sides of the property makes sense, but it's unrealistic to think that cross-country events would bring in revenues, Hopp said.

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