Matt Podgorski: 2022 candidate for Cook County Board


Party: Republican

Office sought: Cook County Board

City: Chicago

Age: 42

Occupation: Director of Logistics

Previous offices held: none


Q: What is the county board's role in addressing rising crime rates and what specific policies, programs or initiatives might you support toward reducing violence in Cook County?

A: Criminals are emboldened if they don't face consequences. Police and prosecutors are demoralized and impaired when some of the County's top elected officials put politics and unrealistic agendas over public safety.

Commissioners must advocate for law enforcement, not verbally attack or handcuff those who hold the line between safety and chaos.

Over-use and abuse of electronic monitoring puts our communities at risk. Too many violent offenders are released and re-commit other violent crimes while they await trial.

Commissioners should push to combine the Chief Judge's and the State's Attorney's separate electronic monitoring systems into one for uniformity and oversight. Only non-violent offenders should be on electronic monitoring when awaiting trial.

Serious crimes - especially those committed with weapons - must be prosecuted as felonies, not misdemeanors. Rampant property crimes like shoplifting and automobile theft must be prosecuted more thoroughly.

Q: Where do you see the greatest need for transportation enhancements in Cook County and how would you address that on the county board?

A: We need to better use data science to ensure our public transportation operates when and where its needed most. These systems are too expensive, and resources are too limited to do otherwise.

Additionally, post COVID, more commuters are returning to the workplace. In-person meetings and leisure outings are returning to normal levels. The public will underutilize public transportation, however, if criminal or public nuisance behavior threatens riders' safety and security.

We have to have effective law enforcement to make sure public transit is working as it should, which will help take cars off the roads. We also have to have effective traffic enforcement to prevent reckless, illegal, and distracted driving that causes more accidents and traffic tie-ups.

Q: Should the county board enact a fuel or sales tax holiday to assist residents struggling with rising costs of gas, groceries and other needs? Why or why not?

A: It shouldn't just be a tax holiday. Cook County is an outlier, and it needs a permanent reduction of its additional fuel and sales taxes. Like housing and food, gas is an essential purchase for most families living and working in Cook County.

Gas and food is so much more expensive here because of Cook County's high sales and commercial property taxes. Border town gas stations and storefronts advertise "No Cook County Taxes!" for a reason.

The County charges a flat, per gallon fuel tax, and it charges a percentage-based sales tax, as well - among the highest in the country. Soaring prices at the pump means local and state governments are getting an unexpected windfall of sales tax revenue - all at consumer expense.

Q: What is one county service that is not adequately provided or could be improved in your district, and how would you address that?

A: The Cook County Forest Preserves are a little over 100 years old, and they remain a hugely important and attractive public resource. The Board of Commissioners should continue to ensure that they are well managed, maintained, and kept safe for residents and visitors.

In some portions of the 9th District, residents I've talked to have raised legitimate concerns that this is not happening. I will be an advocate on this issue.

Q: Do you see the Cook County government serving the city of Chicago too much and not paying enough attention to the needs in the suburbs?

A: The newly drawn 9th District includes a few of the northwest wards of Chicago and also large portions of Palatine, Wheeling, Maine, Leyden, Norwood Park, and River Forest townships.

These residents and businesses contribute significantly to the county's overall tax base, and they deserve to receive a commensurate benefit for the taxes they're paying. Furthermore, demographic shifts have caused the city's population to shrink, while Cook County's suburban population has remained relatively stable.

On the County Board, I will do my best to work with my fellow commissioners to ensure that county public safety, transportation, and social resources will be appropriately allocated.

Q: What's your view of the Chicago Bears' possible move to Arlington Heights? Do you think that would put a strain on Cook County government, such as with sheriff's patrols, other services, or infrastructure needs? Or do you think it would help other Cook County businesses and tax revenue?

A: I strongly support the Bears' move to Arlington Heights. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the team, the 9th District, and the region as a whole.

There will be a need for additional public safety and infrastructure costs, but once the facility is fully functioning, it will be a net positive.

The year-round large events we expect will draw millions of visitors from Cook County and far beyond.

Q: Do you support efforts to further restrict guns sales or access to guns otherwise in light of the Highland Park mass shooting, and/or in light of continuing gun violence overall?

A: Many of the mass shootings are committed by young men under the age 21, which is why I support adding criminal liability to parents who sponsor FOID cards for their children.

There are so many facets to these horrific losses of human life. These are complicated legal, societal, and emotionally charged issues.

Responsible gun ownership is a constitutional right. At the same time, violent offenders and mentally unstable individuals are using guns to kill and terrorize our communities.

What we most need is more common sense and level-headed discussions and solutions.

We must start by enforcing existing laws, including those laws that were passed to prevent a violent person from accessing a firearm. We must bolster our police staffing and actually fully prosecute known violent offenders. They must remain locked up until their cases are adjudicated.

We can and should do all we can with County resources to protect the mentally unstable from harming themselves or others.

Q: How could Cook County benefit from recently passed federal spending measures, such as on infrastructure, health care and climate change?

A: Recently passed federal spending bills provide a huge infusion of funds that should be wisely spent on long lasting improvements with direct and tangible benefits for our residents, businesses, and visitors.

Cook County and the surrounding region remains an economic and cultural powerhouse, despite our myriad challenges. Via road, rail, air, and waterways, we are at the crossroads of North America. There are infrastructure bottlenecks that can and must be addressed if we're going to continue to thrive, and federal funding will help with that.

Cook County should not allocate one-time federal resources toward unsustainable and ill-conceived pet projects such as universal basic income programs and the like.

The majority of residents I've talked to are most concerned about fundamental issues like rising taxes, cost of living issues, and crime.

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