Daniel Didech: Candidate Profile
Vernon Township Supervisor
Back to Vernon Township Supervisor
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.
City: Buffalo Grove
Twitter: Candidate did not respond.
Age: Candidate did not respond.
Family: Jen Didech (wife), 6th grade math teacher at Twin Groves Middle School.
Captain Hook (dog).
Occupation: Municipal Attorney
Education: Adlai E. Stevenson High School -- graduate
Roosevelt University -- Bachelor of Arts, History
Valparaiso University -- Law Degree
Civic involvement: Jewish Child & Family Services, advocate for children with special needs and their families; Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, volunteer tutor.
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
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.
The Vernon Township Board should stop raising our property taxes. The Board has increased Vernon Township's property tax levy each year for the past four years. Vernon Township should lead by example and show other local governments that it's possible to provide all necessary services to the community at the current level of taxation. Additionally, the Township Board must continue to support aggressive legal action against Lake County officials who are illegally overriding locally assessed property values and driving up the tax rate paid by homeowners.
The Vernon Township Board should do the right thing and donate their automatic salary increases back to the Township; I pledge to donate my increases to the Food Pantry. The current Township Board outrageously voted to give themselves automatic salary increases each year over the next four years. That doesn't make any sense when property taxes keep going up and there are so many important social service programs (the Food Pantry, senior services, job counseling, etc.) that the Township Board can support instead.
The Vernon Township Board should expand the Township's programs aimed at supporting our community's senior citizens. For example, the Board should expand the Township's "Rides for Seniors" program, so our seniors will never need to worry about how they will travel to a doctor's appointment.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
Vernon Township has three primary responsibilities:
First, Vernon Township must vigilantly maintain the roads in the unincorporated areas of the Township. As Supervisor, I will work closely with the Township's Highway Commissioner to ensure that all Township roads are safely maintained throughout the year and promptly plowed in the winter.
Second, Vernon Township must fairly assess the property values in the Township to ensure that no one is paying more in property taxes than they are legally obligated to pay. Currently, Vernon Township Assessor Gary Raupp has brought a lawsuit to stop unelected Lake County officials from illegally overriding the locally assessed property values in Vernon Township. I strongly support Assessor Raupp's work to protect the pocketbooks of taxpayers in Vernon Township. As Supervisor, I will work closely with Assessor Raupp to make sure the entire Vernon Township government continues to advocate for low and fair property taxes.
Third, Vernon Township must provide necessary and adequate services to our community's children with special needs, seniors, and families. As Supervisor, I will expand the Township's summer camp to provide programs specifically geared toward children with special needs and I will expand the Township's programs aimed toward supporting our senior citizens. Further, we will do a better job informing our residents of these services. I will support our community's families in need by donating to the Township's food pantry the entirety of the Supervisor's automatic annual salary increases, which never should have been passed by the current Township Board to begin with.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
Townships are needed because property assessors should be locally elected and accountable to voters. If townships were eliminated, unelected county officials would oversee the assessment of property values in Vernon Township, and we would have no recourse at the ballot to hold them accountable. Right now, unelected Lake County officials are illegally overriding the assessment determinations made by locally elected assessors across Lake County, including determinations made by Vernon Township Assessor Gary Raupp. Thankfully, we still have a locally elected assessor who is fighting in court to protect the taxpayers of Vernon Township.
Are there any township offices that should be eliminated or consolidated?
I will support any government consolidation that will save taxpayers money without compromising the quality of service that is currently being provided. The status quo of overlapping taxing bodies collecting taxes to pay for the same services doesn't make sense. Instead, we can consolidate those services and leverage economies of scale and greater negotiating power to provide the same or superior services to Township residents at a lower cost.
For example, we should explore whether such a consolidation makes sense regarding the Township's mosquito abatement services. Some residents in Vernon Township are currently taxed by the Southlake Mosquito Abatement District, but Vernon Township also provides mosquito abatement services and so do other municipalities in the Township. We should explore whether we can save money for those residents by providing those services directly from the Township. It's not fair and it doesn't make sense for residents to pay taxes to two separate units of government that provide the same exact service.
Can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
The Township needs to stop raising the salaries of its elected officials. Last October, the Township Board voted for automatic annual salary increases for all eight elected officials over the next four years. This doesn't make any sense to me, and this is why I am pledging to donate the Supervisor's annual automatic salary increase to the food pantry for each of the next four years until we can pass a new salary schedule that respects your hard-earned tax dollars.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I am a passionate advocate and actively support children with special needs and their families. That's why I began my legal career at Jewish Child and Family Services, where I fought to ensure that no child is denied his or her right to a free appropriate public education. I will continue to be passionate about this issue as I serve as your Township Supervisor. In addition to providing summer camp programs specifically geared toward children with developmental disabilities, I will ask the Township Board to establish a Committee on Persons With Disabilities, which will include people with special needs, their families, and local, passionate professionals. This Committee will help the Board develop programs that will enhance the self-sufficiency and quality of life of citizens with disabilities within Vernon Township.
It is also important to implement policies that will increase transparency of the Vernon Township government. Specifically, the Township should post its bills online before they are approved by the Township Board, so the public can provide informed feedback to elected officials. Currently, the only way to see how your tax dollars are being spent is to file a Freedom of Information Act request and wait up to two weeks to see which bills were approved by the Township Board. I don't believe Vernon Township's leaders should make it difficult to see how they are spending your hard-earned tax dollars. That's why I will post every Township bill online at least 72 hours before it is approved by the Board.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Buzz Aldrin, because he is a living testament that impossible-seeming goals can be accomplished with hard work and determination.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
You are responsible for your own successes and failures. Always work hard, be prepared, and don't make excuses.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I would have spent more time visiting and talking with my grandfathers, who we lost when I was young.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Science, because I enjoyed hands-on experiments and learning how our world works. It taught me to think critically and to work as a team.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Do what you love and success will follow. Live up to your own expectations, not other people's expectations for you.