Water district candidates differ on security

The candidates running to represent the North Shore Water Reclamation District's 2nd Ward have dramatically differing opinions on the organization's security precautions.

Republican challenger Ken Arnold believes security should be increased at the district's offices and pumping stations, and he called for razor wire to be added to some sites.

Democratic incumbent Stephen Drew called that suggestion "drastic." He is confident the district's security measures are appropriate.

The water district handles sewer services for more than 250,000 people in eastern Lake County. The 2nd Ward includes parts of Waukegan and Gurnee.

The candidates discussed security at the district's facilities and other issues in separate interviews with the Daily Herald. They're running for a 4-year term.

Arnold, a tax watchdog and former congressional candidate from Gurnee, said he has concerns about security at the district's offices and plants, particularly "in this era of terrorist events."

He called for "a hardening of the critical facilities ... against any infiltration and mischief."

To that end, Arnold suggested razor wire could be used to keep out intruders. He also said electronic key cards should be added to buildings.

"We're talking about sewage treatment," Arnold said. "Imagine if that was shut down in every residence in the district unexpectedly. That's a problem."

Drew, a Waukegan resident who's represented the 2nd Ward since 2002, acknowledged there have been "minor security breaches" at the water district facilities. But he called razor wire "a little drastic."

Drew said he knows water and sewer plants could be terrorist targets but thinks the security system now in place, which includes surveillance cameras, is adequate.

"Are you going to put razor wire around the courthouse, too?" said Drew, who serves as the five-member board's vice president. "Are you going to make it look like a prison?"

Drew said the district headquarters in Gurnee, which customers can visit to pay bills, is secure as well.

"How far can you go?" Drew said. "It's a public facility. We have to do business with the public."

Water district candidates spar over tenure

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.