Cliff Surges: 2022 candidate for Kane County Board District 21


Party: Republican

Office sought: Kane County Board District 21

City: Gilberts

Age: 59

Occupation: Business Professional, CEO

Previous offices held: Village Trustee, County Board


Q: Do you support an increase in the countywide retail sales tax to help pay for expenses related to the SAFE T legislation? Yes/No? If yes, which SAFE T-related expenses, specifically, should be covered with the additional tax? If no, how do you suggest paying for the increased expenses related to the SAFE T legislation?

A: NO. Legislation from Springfield should come with the proper funding to pay for it. At $34,000,000 (at last tally) over three years this is an insurmountable request.

In speaking with our judicial and law enforcement partners, the legislation needs to be substantially amended and we should be taking a leadership position in this effort.

Q: What should be done to retain county staff? If you propose increases in salaries or benefits, how should those added costs be covered?

A: The county's attrition rate is very stable and well within industry standards for governmental units such as ours.

I initiated studies to address equity positions of our staff. The charge was to standardize roles allowing a cross county comparison with comparable size and demographics. We found areas needing improvement and others well compensated.

For those showing disparity and in need of adjustment, a three-year plan has been presented for this budget cycle that incrementally adjusts those positions.

Workload was also addressed along with work from home programs and departmental reorganization.

Q: Do you believe the county auditor should be an elected or appointed position? Why? Are there any other countywide offices that are currently elected positions that you believe should be appointed instead? If so, please explain.

A: In analysis, there are only a few counties that have appointed Auditors. I don't believe that an appointed position carries the same “checks and balances” of an elected position.

Inasmuch, I would not be in favor of this action unless a specific set of guidelines that included independent oversight and significant budget savings was presented.

Q: The county has seen an increase in truck traffic. How do you propose to address the infrastructure needs that come with this increase in traffic? Do you support a moratorium on warehouse developments in unincorporated areas of the county? Yes/No? Please explain.

A: Everyone wants their delivery ASAP when they place an order. To make that happen, super-sized warehouses need to be stocked continuously, mostly from semitrailer trucks.

The question is really about the appropriateness of the location.

I hosted an open house attended by over 150 constituents about a site in Gilberts requesting up to 950 parking spots for trucks and trailers directly next to a residential subdivision.

The Gilberts site was overwhelmingly frowned upon and just doesn't seem appropriate. This is an issue that is not going away, and I hope that the county and the local municipalities give this the attention it deserves as it can change the complexion of our communities overnight.

At the north end, plans to update the I90 & Randall Road exchange are underway. This bottleneck cannot be ignored.

Q: What direction do you think the county should move as it relates to its aging buildings? Build new or rehab existing buildings? Why and how would you propose the county pay for any new buildings or improvements?

A: Our building department was just overhauled. This was long overdue.

The new management team is tasked with evaluating our current needs. This is a very fluid topic as the Safe T Act alone could require warehouse sized capacity for staffing, document storage, IT equipment, etc.

I hope we don't fall into the rhetoric that all things old must come down and be replaced by something new and shiny.

The new Judicial Center and Multiuse Facility are spectacular. Both were built new and financed with our AA+ bond rating over a length of time. By reducing our debt by 70% over the past 10 years, we have placed ourselves in a position where we shouldn't be afraid to invest in capital projects that ultimately save money.

Our older complexes such as the 3rd Street Courthouse and the Geneva Government Center give historical relevance and I trust we can find the proper method to rehab those with modern energy efficiency.

It is so important to honor the past while looking to the future.

Q: How do you think the county should spend the remaining COVID-19 relief funds?

A: The County received approximately $200,000,000 in COVID funding in multiple distributions. Each came with instructions on how the funds could be used.

While a member of the Cares Act Allocation Committee it was important to me to get money into our communities. I spearheaded the small business grant program to aid those businesses that had been closed by the pandemic.

The American Rescue Plan funding has been used in part to support nonprofit organizations in the mental health and community aid arena. I supported the committee's work and fought to expedite the $4,000,000 distribution to the mental health community.

The remaining non-obligated balance is in the range of $25,000,000. It is my hope that we steer this to programs such as the Children's Advocacy Center, Broadband Internet to our rural areas, and a program dear to my family, Kane County CASA for abused and neglected children as the largely volunteer based program was hit exceptionally hard by this situation.

Q: The COVID pandemic also put a spotlight on the need for mental health services. What role should the county play in this?

A: Caring for individuals in need is a central theme in my life. However, there needs to be oversight and coordination.

We do not have the proper resources at the county to oversee these programs currently.

Townships at the south end have an organization called the Inc Board NFP. They oversee several 708 Mental Health Boards and coordinate efforts to minimize duplication and administrative costs while making sure each town's specific needs are being met. They do a fantastic job.

Newly appointed County Health Director, Michael Isaacson is a rising star. His team is working to formulate plans that both identify the services needed as well as increase the number of people we can help.

As a volunteer in our prison system, I see firsthand the number of individuals needing mental health help instead of incarceration. The recent addition of social workers at the Sheriff's office and in communities like Elgin and Carpentersville is long overdue and on target.

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