Three Republicans squaring off in DuPage District 1 board race
DuPage board member Sam Tornatore says the county's biggest challenge is to provide essential services when the state is keeping millions of dollars that traditionally goes to local governments.
"We've got our work cut out for us," he said. "There's still going to be revenue cuts from Springfield."
The 68-year-old Roselle resident said he wants to be "part of the solution" in the coming years. But first, he must win another term on the 18-member county board.
On March 20, Tornatore and two fellow Republicans -- Paul DeMichele of Bensenville and Dino Gavanes of Itasca -- will seek the GOP nomination for two 4-year seats representing county board District 1, which includes all or portions of Addison, Bensenville, Bloomingdale, Elmhurst, Glendale Heights, Itasca, Lombard, Roselle, Villa Park and Wood Dale.
The two winners of the Republican primary will face Elmhurst Democrats Ashley J. Selmon and Zahra Suratwala in November.
Tornatore is the only incumbent in the race because Paul Fichtner decided not to seek re-election.
Gavanes said he decided to run because he believes serving on the county board "would be a good opportunity to give back."
"I have a unique background as a business owner and entrepreneur," the 66-year-old insurance consultant said. "I think I could bring a different perspective to the county board."
DeMichele, who previously served on township, school and fire protection boards, said his past experience has prepared him to be a county board member.
"There's a lot of things I've been working on over the years," DeMichele said. "Being on the county board will help me push them over the goal line."
For example, he's hoping a long-desired western access road into O'Hare International Airport someday will be built
"Without western access, I-390 is just another route to the Tri-State," DeMichele said.
On Monday, Tornatore acknowledged that both western access and increased jet noise are significant issues for residents in towns neighboring O'Hare.
Still, he said, the biggest challenge facing county government is the loss of state funding.
Last year, Illinois kept 10 percent of the state income tax revenue that municipalities and counties receive. The state also reduced DuPage's share of the RTA sales tax and personal property replacement tax revenues.
In total, the county lost more than $3 million in state funding. Still, the county board approved a budget that kept DuPage's $66.9 million property tax levy flat.
Tornatore said the county must be prepared for the possibility that the state won't restore funding next year.
So, he said, DuPage should continue to cut expenses and be more efficient. It should also should promote economic development to generate more sales tax revenue.
In the meantime, the county is lobbying state lawmakers to persuade them to restore funding.
"We're going to try to stop the bleeding from Springfield," he said.
When it comes to consolidation, DeMichele and Gavanes agree that the county has done a good job with its DuPage Accountability, Consolidation and Transparency Initiative. They also support a proposal to combine the county clerk's office with the DuPage Election Commission.
But Gavanes said the county should only pursue consolidation when it makes sense.
DeMichele said there's "only so much consolidation you can do" within county government.
"It's getting down to the bone at the county," DeMichele said. "You really have to start looking at how is this going to impact services."
Residents have the opportunity to hear from the District 1 county board candidates during a meet-and-greet planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Pollyanna Brewing Company -- Roselare, 245 E Main St., Roselle. Democrats and Republicans running in county board District 6 also have been invited to participate in the event sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Roselle/Bloomingdale.