Michelle Gumz: 2022 candidate for Kane County Board District 8


Party: Democratic

Office sought: Kane County Board District 8

City: Aurora

Age: 49

Occupation: Retired

Previous offices held: Kane County Board District 8, 2020 to present


Q: Do you support an increase in the countywide retail sales tax to help pay for expenses related to the SAFE-T legislation? 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: Today we are faced with an unfunded mandate. Yes, I do support letting the voters decide if they would like a retail sales tax. I have voted in favor of this several times.

Spending my life in law enforcement, I have a good understanding of the staff hours needed to comply with this legislation. I see no way to pay for this long term without increased revenue and have not been provided any other suggestions that are sustainable.

The expense is in the staff needed to review and comply with this legislation. I would not have voted for the SAFE-T Act and was active in asking our state legislators to vote against it in its current unfunded form.

In the meantime, we cannot pretend that we do not have to comply with the law. We may need to draw down our reserves to do so. I am opposed to continued drawdown of reserves to solve long-term issues. It is not a sustainable solution. We can lean on our legislators in Springfield to help us fund this mandate and I will continue to do so.

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: We need to bring staff salaries up to competitive rates. Employees starting at Kane County and leaving for much better pay in other counties is unacceptable. I believe we need to invest in our employees to provide excellent services for those who live and visit this county.

Kane County deserves the best.

Freezing property taxes for 10-plus years has aided in putting us in this position. No one wants to raise a tax, but we can't keep falling behind with inaction and fear of the word tax. It is literally part of the job to talk about it.

Saying that our services suffer because our employees are underpaid and overworked is hard. We are talking 10 to 30 dollars a year give or take, based on home value. All we have to do is tell them the truth, you can never go wrong with that.

Eliminating all waste and turning over every stone to provide a budget that is not shortsighted is my goal.

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: No, I would not support a change from an elected auditor to an appointed one. I believe the power of the voter should dictate who has oversight and not the commission.

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? Please explain.

A: As reported to us by Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and shared with KDOT, our truck traffic has increased about 20%. I believe that this is in part related to consumer online purchases. Our transportation department and our partners are well-informed and I support their plan as it continues to be updated and modified according to the new data.

I do not support a moratorium on warehouse development in the unincorporated locations of the county. We have the capacity and the ability to accommodate this and together with the municipalities we can make sure the residential and truck traffic can continue to coexist going forward.

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: I don't believe I have a strong position either way at this point. I do not believe we are in a position to consider building new structures right now. The conversation has been had several times and honestly I do not have enough information on the cost benefits from one to the other.

I do love our old buildings, and I understand the desire for new construction equally. I just do not see how we can undertake any major construction of new buildings with the funds we have at this time. I also do not know what appetite the public would have for new construction and would like to dig into that further before taking a strong position on it.

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

A: Addressing the internal requests for relief funds has been a very thoughtful process. The internal requests have outlined how they will directly help those in the county through the services that are provided. Providing monies that can help child advocacy programs, our mental health initiatives and public safety programs benefit the county as a whole. I would love to see a second round of community relief funds allocated as well.

I have consistently been an advocate to get the monies into those organizations that can best provide services to the residents here.

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

A: Mental health is a complex issue. It can be caused by many things. Domestic violence, food insecurity, affordable housing and much more. Manifesting into substance abuse, then leading to crime. I have invested many hours into research and conversation.

The county currently plays a huge role in helping folks suffering from mental health challenges. Kane County is forward thinking here. We have programs within our health department as well as our judicial and public safety divisions. We provide resources to those who are incarcerated such as job skills and training, counseling as well as aid in job placement. The data is proving to be outstanding.

We have so much more work to do with mental health. I will continue to support the programs that are proving to keep those folks in love and light. We need to take care of one another and I believe Kane County will show others how it can be achieved through these programs that come from understanding, empathy and above all love.

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