Charles Cappell: 2023 candidate for Campton Hills Village Board


Town: Campton Hills

Age on Election Day: 76

Occupation: Retired university professor, emeritus

Employer: Northern Illinois University

Previous offices held: Current Campton Hills Village Trustee


Q: What is the most serious issue your community will face in the coming years and how should the village board respond to it?

A: External challenges to our ecological system potentially could create serious issues. Campton has more private well/septic systems than any other township in Kane County, so we must be conscious of any threats to our aquifer systems. In the immediate future, more monitoring of these conditions can be implemented; and thinking about longer term adjustments can begin.

This issue is intertwined with some misplaced calls for increased development that would challenge the ecological capacity of our area. We should think of Campton Hills as a "steady state system."

Any development, perhaps along the lines of cultural and quality of life amenities, has to consider ecological constraints.

Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?

A: Very solid. We have a balanced budget with a net surplus, no debt, a capital improvement fund, a contingency fund; all without a local municipal tax. Our village offices have recently been renovated and fully funded. We now have, for the first time, a fully-functional administrative infrastructure, including the police department. We owe this to the stewardship of past boards and village administrations.

Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?

A: 1. Public Safety and Police; 2. Roads. Our budget is nearly entirely non-discretionary spending; police and roads are essential services, hence priorities. 3. Slightly more discretionary is our administrative budget. I think we should prioritize spending in this area so that all of our required administrative functions are staffed adequately with professionally trained staff in numbers able to meet the demand, and with working conditions that increase the stability of personnel over time. This would also enhance our constituency relations.

Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?

A: Our village is an ongoing experiment in minimalist governance that has been successful, so far. We use intergovernmental revenue transfers to repatriate taxes and fees paid to the state and county back to our local resident taxpayers. We adhere to the premise that a local government so construed can be run without municipal taxes. There is no fat in our budget expenditures.

Q: What do you see as the most important infrastructure project the community must address? Why and how should it be paid for? Conversely, during these uncertain economic times, what project(s) can be put on the back burner?

A: A review of surface and stormwater management is one of my priorities. Given the predictions of increasingly extreme weather events, I also want us to challenge ComEd to bury more electrical lines to avoid power outages in some areas.

We love our tree canopy and want to increase, not decrease our tree density.

We will continue to prioritize an increasing rate of repaving roads as we've done recently.

Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage local government? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions with your village board.

A: I learned a great deal working in three different major universities where faculty, self-governance is practiced. We relied, not without occasional breach, on civil, scientific-based discussions. Furthermore, I advocate, from experience and my teaching of Law and Society courses, Deliberative Democracy. This form of collective decision-making relies on open, trustworthy, standards-based discourse to examine policy alternatives and to choose, collectively, the best course of action. It is open-minded examination, not a pursuit of single-interest objectives, nor transactional vote swapping across various interests, nor ideological adherence. Each issue or problem deserves the best solution available. Better answers emerge through deliberation.

I was a founding trustee serving on the first board organizing the village - a conflict-laden period due to continuing opposition to the village formation. I have experience in lowering the temperature rather than raising it.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: The skills I bring to the village trustee position include scientific/statistical/critical thinking orientations to practical problem-solving and policy development. I try to convert claims and conclusions into working hypotheses; then ask what evidence is needed to assess and challenge the validity of the working hypotheses; then reflect on what alternative hypotheses should be considered. I think the norms of the scientific method and the deliberate style of argument and truth-searching found in academia are extremely relevant to public governance. A good portion of my academic research have policy implications.

Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?

A: An improved public meeting space with comfortable, modern amenities. Civic groups, as well as the village, need a public meeting space facility for larger meetings. Second, as a founding trustee, I advocated for more bike, horse and hiking trail paths connecting subdivisions to our central Wasco area and our Open Space areas; that improvement has lagged.

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