Thomas M. Pavelko: 2022 candidate for McHenry County Board District 2
City: Crystal Lake
Occupation: In-house attorney for American Agricultural Insurance Company
Previous offices held: Alderman, Ballwin, Missouri; Lake in the Hills Plan Commission, Lake in the Hills Village Board
Q. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
A. I have previously run for political office and have a keen interest in serving the community. I bowed out of politics when my wife and I were expecting, because I did not want to be at a board meeting or some similar event and missed my son's first words, first steps, etc. He is now in college and I feel the time is right for me to get back in the game.
I became interested in the county board in late 2020, when then county board member Suzanne Ness was elected state representative, requiring her to resign from the county board. I applied to fill her unexpired term and began attending county board meetings remotely and hearing the issues. The biggest issue I heard at public comments in those meetings was the contract that the county had with ICE to house detainees. I was so disappointed in my county government!
Although I was not chosen to succeed Ms. Ness, I continued to monitor the county board meetings and now wish to pursue the office on my own.
Q. 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?
A. When the COVID 19 pandemic ends, there will be an upsurge in commercial growth, industrial growth, recreational activity and residential development. People will want to get out and enjoy the beauty of our county, visit retail establishments and go out for dinner. My vision is for McHenry County to use that community rebirth to its advantage! Done correctly, McHenry County can grow its tax base and become even more fiscally strong without raising taxes on its residents! But the government needs to begin now to encourage and anticipate development and reduce regulatory roadblocks.
If McHenry County grows its business, industry, agricultural and recreational opportunities, it will bring more good paying jobs to our communities and grow the tax base without raising taxes on homeowners!
Q. Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming and how the county should deal with them.
A. Residents of McHenry County deserve excellent government services from its county government. McHenry County government's budget, in turn, is to be a contract with the taxpayers to provide those services at the fairest, most efficient prices possible. Our county board must be on everlasting watch to keep the budget, and therefore taxes, as low as possible.
For a time, some in the county government saw the ICE contract a financial windfall. But it carried a great reputational loss. I am so glad that contract is ended, but now government officials more than ever must budget wisely to balance the budget.
Q. How do you rate the county government on transparency and the public's access to records? If it's adequate, explain why. If you think improvements are needed, delineate them.
A. Transparency is something the McHenry County government must always aspire to do better! With online and electronic options available, McHenry County government should provide better and more efficient access to records.
Q. What, if anything, should be done to improve automation and customer service in county offices? What steps should be taken to make that happen?
A. The pandemic has taught the business community that much more can be done remotely online. The same should be true for government offices. Each county government department should begin an initiative to determine what processes, implemented on a "temporary," emergency basis for the pandemic, ought to be made permanent to provide efficiency of services to the community.