Jake Justen: 2022 candidate for McHenry County Board District 2


Party: Libertarian

Office sought: McHenry County Board District 2

City: Crystal Lake

Age: 35

Occupation: Senior credit analyst, Crystal Lake Bank & Trust

Previous offices held: None


Q: Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming in the future and how the county should deal with them.

A: According to the 2022 budget posted on the county website, all major and non-major governmental funds are expected to not only experience a decrease in receipts but also to have a fund deficit. These deficits will utilize fund reserves.

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund will have a second consecutive deficit and the Mental Health Fund will have its second deficit in three years. Looking into the future, a primary threat is the effect of inflation the expenses of the county at a time when receipts are declining.

Reserves cannot fund deficits for the long term and borrowing will only transfer the expenses to future taxpayers, families and businesses. Families are facing budget crunches as utilities, groceries, fuel, school supplies, and rents all increase; tax increases will further burden budgets. County expenses need to be reviewed for cuts and consolidating programs to streamline services.

Q: Is there a specific service or amenity that is lacking in the county? If so, how do you propose to provide and fund it?

A: This county provides a number of services and amenities to the families and businesses that call McHenry County home. Throughout the county, many municipalities also offer a range of localized services and amenities. My candidacy is not based on expanding the size and scope of the government by adding new government provided amenities.

The consideration with any program or amenity is not just how it will be provided and funded, but also the impact on the taxpayers of McHenry County. As inflation continues to impact the budgets of families and businesses, absorbing tax increases is not going to be viable.

Those same inflationary conditions are impacting the county's budget and the board cannot be adding new services and amenities on the backs of taxpayers without offsets.

Q: Does there need to be more bipartisanship and cooperation on the county board? If yes, what would you do to help make that happen?

A: Whether there should be cooperation and bi/tri-partisanship depends on the issue, rather than being a general goal. At all levels of government, bipartisanship and cooperation have led to more laws, more spending, higher taxes, continued deficits, more debt, and a serious curtailment of our freedom. Bipartisanship can be and has been used as a tool used to pressure support for or justify bad policies.

I will work with Republicans and Democrats when the opportunity arises. When both parties are wrong and being bipartisan, I will not hesitate be a lone "no" vote.

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

A: During the COVID pandemic and lockdowns, existing mental health issues were exacerbated and there were issues that were a result of the government's actions during 2020 and into 2021. First and foremost the county needs to be a voice in the future against blanket closures and lockdowns; any attempt to quarantine an outbreak should be targeted, limited, and set clear, realistic and reasonable bench marks for moving out of quarantine.

Mental health is an issue that affects all people. The McHenry County Mental Health Board has partnered with many agencies, both government and private, which provide a wide range of services. These are listed on the board's website with contact information. There is also an app that connects to licensed mental health counselors 24/7. Making these connections to counselors and service providers is an important role in addressing mental health issues.

Q: What is the single most important issue facing your district and how should the county address it?

A: The most important issue is real estate taxes. According to a recent article on the NBC Chicago website, Illinois ranked 8th in the country with a property tax burden of nearly 4% of income; according to an article from Wirepoints, Illinois residents pay the highest combined state and local taxes in the country. Many have made the decision to move because of the tax burden and the taxes are making selling the home more difficult. This is before inflation finds its way into tax bills.

As inflation continues to burden families, the county budget is also going to be impacted. Expense budgets for all departments are going to increase. The county will have to increase income through higher taxes, fees, etc.; find alternative funding sources; or make cuts to services to balance the increases. Tax and fee increases are going to further burden families and business that are already finding it difficult to make ends meet.

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