Robert Wagner: Candidate Profile
Grafton Township Board (4-year Terms)
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Robert Wagner, running for Grafton Township Board (4-year Terms)
Robert Wagner, running for Grafton Township Board (4-year Terms)
Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
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Office sought: Grafton Township Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Wife Nancy (26 years); Children:Jamie 25, Charlie 22, Johnny 20, Robbie 18
Education: Law School: DePaul University, College of Law, J.D. Degree, 1980
College: Marquette University, B.S. Liberal Arts, Cum Laude, 1976
1995 - 1999 Mayor, City of Crystal Lake, IL
1991 - 1995 Crystal Lake Park District Commissioner
1989 - 1995 Grafton Township Precinct Committeeman
1987 - 1994 Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Civil Jury Instructions
1999 - 2007 Crystal Lake American Little League, manager/coach
In addition to the above, civic, charitable and pro bono activities have included service as Moderator for Grafton Township Annual Town Meetings; drafting Endowment Fund bylaws for Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Crystal Lake, IL; incorporating several local not-for-profit organizations to serve the common good; and serves as legal counsel for several local youth sports leagues.
Elected offices held: See Civic Involvement
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain:
Key Issue 1
Settle and dismiss all of the pending lawsuits that have drained almost $700,000 from the township since the incumbent supervisor took office - almost $200,000 per year. During the three years prior to the start of the supervisor's term, the township's attorney's fees were about $5,000 per year. I can't stand by and do nothing to stop this senseless waste of money. There should be one attorney to represent the township, not one attorney for every person we elect.
Key Issue 2
The annual audit for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011 has not been completed, although it should have been completed almost two years ago! The audit for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012 has not even been started, and is almost one year late.
After attending the 2011 annual township meeting, I am not sure anyone is even balancing the township check book. No one seemed to know how much money the township had to buy back its own township building. Two years later, its still the same. The supervisor has actually been held in contempt of court for refusing to pay for an audit! Her excuse - she didn't know if there was enough money in the checking account to pay for it!
What a mess. And everyday I read the newspaper, it gets worse.
I think the trustee job is not that complicated - approve a tax levy and budget based on historical known expenses, invest the people's tax money wisely, pay the bills that have to be paid, and balance the check book. The supervisor and the board should let the assessor and highway commissioner do the job they were elected to do. We are "trustees" of the people's tax money, nothing more. Townships don't pass laws and make public policy decisions. It is supposed to be the model of small government. Not a penny wasted.
Approving the payment of the assessor's office phone bill should not be a matter of a public policy debate, or the subject of a lawsuit. Bill Ottley has been a great township assessor and a truly dedicated public servant. Let a good man do his job!
Key Issue 3
We are Americans. We don't have soldiers stationed at polling places on election day. Why? The majority respects the point of view of the minority. The minority accepts the rule of law laid down by the majority. It is in our blood. We get it.
Needless to say, the train went off the tracks in Grafton Township the last four years. You can't refuse to follow the majority vote of the board because you do not agree with it, like the current supervisor.
I have no hidden agenda. I know Roberts Rules of Order. I think I have learned in my life how to lose a debate gracefully. I will do the best I can, but I am not going to get elected so that I can pick a fight with someone that disagrees with me. I am not going to sue anyone. And I am not going to waste the tax money entrusted to me.
But we have to elect a supervisor, someone like Marty Weitzman, with a CPA background, that understands how to handle money and clean house. If the incumbent is re-elected for another 4 years, even someone on the board with the skills of Abraham Lincoln couldn't fix the problem.
Name the three most important goals or objectives this board should tackle in the coming term. Prioritize them, and briefly discuss why you believe each to be critical, and how the board should go about addressing them.
Restore financial accountability and transparency. People should know how much money they have, where the money is going, and have confidence that it is well spent and managed.
Dig the township out of the financial deficit caused by reckless spending on attorneys fees and the bungled attempt to build a township hall.
Settle and dismiss all of the lawsuits. Dismiss all of the attorneys that were involved in those lawsuits. Hire one local lawyer that understands the township and township law. Pay that lawyer $3,000 to $5,000 to represent the township.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
After the Revolutionary War, Thomas Jefferson and Congress established the Public Land Act to survey the lands west of the original 13 colonies. The way they did that was by breaking up the land into 36 square mile townships. The legal descriptions of our homes are based on those original surveys. Many of our roads have been laid along those original township survey lines, and in rural areas, the townships not only maintain those roads but provide parks, cemeteries and valuable general assistance to taxpayers in need. Townships also served as a seat of government before cities and villages were settled. And since we run local government through real estate taxes, somebody has to value the real estate, so you need a township assessor.
Eliminating township government is no easy task. The roots run deep. And some townships are more useful than others so you really can't make a broad generalization. You can't say that because some townships are not needed or poorly run that all townships are not needed and should be abolished.
The townships are governed by the Illinois Township Code. It's not complicated. If the board and the supervisor follow the code, there is no problem. But if the township becomes wasteful because the public has stopped paying attention, and good people no longer want to get involved to run the township, then its time to consider an alternative. But I think the voters will do the right thing and get Grafton Township straightened out.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
Protecting the people's money and getting the most out of it.
In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
$200,000 per year in attorney's fees can be saved just by following Roberts Rules of Order and the Illinois Township Code.
What specific background or experience do you bring that makes you the best qualified candidate to serve as an elected official in the township?
I may or may not be the best qualified candidate, but with 4 seats open, I think my experience puts me in the top 4. I am always willing to learn. All I can say that I have spent 8 years in elected office and I am older and wiser for the experience. I put two children through college, one in college now and one more on his way next year. I know how to save. I don't waste money.
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