Lake County Board District 15 candidates cite flooding, rising cost of living among key issues for voters

Two candidates vying to represent District 15 on the Lake County Board cite flooding, reducing emissions and rising cost of living among the key issues for their constituents.

The district includes parts of Libertyville, Mundelein and Vernon Hills.

Democratic incumbent Jennifer Clark of Libertyville is seeking a second term. She's challenged by Dawn Abernathy, a Mundelein resident and former two-term village trustee who left the board in 2021 after an unsuccessful run for mayor.

Clark is an assistant professor of economics at Carthage College. She said she wants to continue to use her experience to make "educated, real-life policy decisions."

Abernathy, a homemaker, said village government isn't partisan.

"I do not like the way the county has begun to put politics over people in their districts," Abernathy said of her decision to run for county board.

Clark said addressing flooding, creating railroad underpasses or overpasses to move traffic and reducing emissions are priorities.

Abernathy said district constituents say they are struggling with increasing food, gas and utility prices. Better facilities and programs to address residents' mental health needs also is required, she said.

Clark touted the county board's fiscal record. She said she particularly is proud of keeping the county tax levy flat the past three years while maintaining a AAA bond rating, which results in savings when money is borrowed.

She said that was achieved without decreasing vital services provided by the county and the Lake County Forest Preserve District - county board members double as forest preserve commissioners. Clark said it took a careful analysis of budgets and programs, implementing efficiencies and federal COVID relief funding to make that happen.

"Looking forward, the board will have to keep its focus on economic and fiscal efficiency since we are faced with such an inflationary climate," she added.

Abernathy said the county's 4-cent per gallon gas tax hike effective July 1, 2021, was another motivator for her to run. The original proposal was for 8 cents per gallon.

Abernathy contends the county should be "bustling with new businesses" and providing incentives for businesses to relocate there.

According to Lake County Partners, the county's economic development arm, when incentives are appropriate, they typically are from state or federally-funded sources.

Abernathy said the county should provide matching business grants, such as those in place in Mundelein. She also called for a "strong commitment to law enforcement," saying residents don't feel safe inside or outside their homes with the pending SAFE-T Act.

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