Mavis Bates: Candidate profile:
Name: Mavis Bates
Office sought: Kane County Board, District 4
Family: Married with two daughters
Education: BA, Social Studies Secondary Education, University of Illinois; MS, Computer Science, Illinois Institute of Technology; MS Oriental Medicine, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine; MS Sustainable Management, University of Wisconsin
Civic involvement: Elected at-large commissioner, Fox Valley Park District; Founder and chair, ten years, Aurora GreenFest; Chair, Sierra Club, Valley of the Fox (Kane and Kendall Counties); Vice-Chair, Sustainable Aurora, Mayor's Advisory Board on Sustainability; Past president, Kiwanis Club of Aurora; Advisory board, Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry; Adjunct instructor, Sustainability, Waubonsee Community College; Choir member, New England Congregational Church.
Previous elected offices held: At-Large Commissioner, Fox Valley Park District (April 2019-present)
Questions and Answers
1. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
I am running for Kane County Board to help make Aurora and Kane County grow and flourish in the years to come. With my experience and leadership skills, I feel an obligation to serve my community. I want to improve the quality of life for everyone, keep our economy thriving for a prosperous future, keep our taxes as low as possible, and maintain the health of our environment for the health of our people.
My main passion in life is sustainability, using the environment to fulfill our own needs but leaving a healthy world to future generations so they can fulfill their needs as well. Sustainability for Kane County means taking care of our people, our planet, and our county government. Taking care of our people requires making our county healthier and safer, supporting fair wages and equal pay for our employees, and bringing more of our tax dollars back to our district. Taking care of the planet includes advocating for money saving renewable energy projects in the county, protecting our natural resources of fertile land, clean water, clean air, and our magnificent river. Taking care of our government means returning integrity and transparency to the county board.
2. If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?
As a woman and a small-business owner, I will always advocate for other business owners. We are the backbone of our economy. As a card-carrying union member, I will help working families by supporting our union brothers and sisters.
I am a health care professional and I will fight against the board's cuts to public safety and health. I want everyone in Kane County to have the resources they need to live a happy, healthy life. As the daughter of an Army colonel, I know the importance of making sure our veterans receive the care they deserve.
I am a leader in sustainability in our community and earned a Master's in Sustainable Management from the University of Wisconsin last year. I am the founder of the Aurora GreenFest, which has drawn thousands of people every years over the last 10 years. I will encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy, including more solar energy, on homes, businesses, and on county buildings. I will promote recycling, water preservation, and sustainability for a safe and resilient future. Sustainability can help the county save a lot of money and reduce the burden on property taxpayers.
3. Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming in the future and how the county should deal with them. In particular in the suburbs, President Preckwinkle has set a goal of eliminating unincorporated areas from county oversight. Do you agree with this approach? If so, how should the county go about it?
I believe the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today is not sustainable and will have to be closely monitored to keep it balanced. We need to keep taxes as low as possible to not further burden our families with higher property taxes. At the same time, we need to make our services robust so that we can fulfill our mission of "providing innovative and high quality government services" to our residents. This tightrope act will require some way of cutting expenses, such as consolidating unnecessary levels of government and partnering with other municipalities to share responsibilities and cut expenses. The fair tax may provide some relief from this tightrope act of lean government. Small government limits the benefits of governments for quality of life issues like mental health, opioid crisis intervention, and forest preserve quality. A belt can only be tightened so much.
I do not agree with President Preckwinkle's idea. One of the main purposes of our county government is to be good stewards of the unincorporated areas. "No government" is not the same as "good government." This would push management of unincorporated areas to township government, which would lead to expansion of township government, rather than eliminating them.
4. How do you rate the county government on transparency and the public's access to records? If you consider it adequate, please explain why. If you think improvements are needed, please describe them and why they are important.
I think the county website is very difficult to navigate to the point of obfuscating what it is the county is supposed to do and what it actually does on a daily basis. The distinction between the role of the county in incorporated and unincorporated areas is very vague, but one of the most important distinctions in county government. I think every page should have its own introductory explanation, and especially every committee should have an explanation of its charter and purpose. Having to read every agenda and every minutes for each committee meeting makes it very nontransparent what the responsibilities of the committee is supposed to be. Many pages in the website are out of date, which also makes it difficult to find data.
Additionally, the lack of communication between the county board member and the residents is problematic. I have received many comments from constituents who feel that they are not well-informed about what is happening in their county government. We need to find better ways to improve communication with residents. One simple solution would be to give each board member a district page on the county's website to provide updates to residents.
5. What, if anything, should be done to improve automation and customer service in county offices? What steps should be taken to make that happen?
As a constituent, I have had good customer service experiences with county employees. Although I have not heard any complaints from constituents while knocking on doors about automation and customer service in county offices, there may be room for improvement. Getting input from constituents can be helpful and informative. I think there should be a survey taken of the customers who come into the county offices to find out how long they have to wait for services and if they feel they had to wait too long. With this information, the county office would know if they need to take steps to fix the problem. We should always be using state of the art automation to make service better.