Chris Kious: Candidate Profile
Name: Chris Kious
Office sought: Kane County Board District 23
Occupation: Project Manager part time retired
Education: AA general, BSc Biology, MSc Entomology, CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management)
Civic involvement: I have been an activist in non-partisan organizations such as MoveOn.org, Indivisible and Organizing for Action (originally Obama for America) and I still put together the newsletter monthly for NWSOFA. I have also been active in the Dundee Township Democrats (chair, vice-chair).
Elected offices held: Democratic Precinct Committeeman in Dundee 35
Questions & Answers
Question 1: 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?
My priority would be to make sure that my neighbors know that they have a voice in the planning and development in District 23. My background in small business, local politics and citizen activism should all be assets to help me accomplish that.
Question 2: What is the single-biggest need in your district?
The single biggest concern I hear from my neighbors in the 23rd district is about the Longmeadow Parkway. They feel they have not been heard by their representatives on the Kane County Board in the way that their district is being developed. The voters in my district need to feel that they have a voice in the management of their community and their county so that we can maintain the quality of life that we currently have here.
Question 3: Is the county doing enough to control expenses? What additional, specific steps do you recommend
There is no doubt in my mind that county services are the "best bang for the taxpayer's buck" especially when compared to state and federal efficiencies but as a board we need to make sure that the cuts make sense in the short run and in the long run for the citizens of the county. The county board chairman recently reported that the board has saved $43,000,000 in the past 7 years. That's good but sometimes that comes at a cost that can't be measured in dollars and cents, such as delaying construction of a new coroner's facilities until long after the existing buildings are literally overflowing. I can't imagine what effect that has on families that are already having maybe the worst day of their lives.
It is critical that we make smart budgeting decisions right now, especially as we're due to see less and less revenue from the motor fuel tax and the river boat gambling proceeds and more state mandated services like the potential implementation of a Predictable Recording Fee Schedule in the recorder's office. Those factors coupled with the growth in population that we are predicted to experience in Kane County and it all threatens to stretch the county budget to the limit.
The county's policy of subsidizing the fee structure for new construction and public service fees like building inspections should be changed. It is a seriously outdated fee schedule that has not been reviewed for 14 years. We now collect only about 10% of the cost that it requires to provide those services. Raising the fees to completely cover the full cost of those services would provide about $1,000,000 annually. That would go quite a ways to help close the budget gap. Additionally, the county should schedule regular reviews of all fee schedules to assure that they remain current with costs.
Question 4: The county commissioned a study to determine which services are mandated and which are not which non-mandated services would you cut or reduce? Under what circumstances would you support a tax increase?
There are many items in the county's $280 million budget. Mandated items cannot be eliminated but many may be provided more efficiently. The same holds true for non-mandated services. Few, if any, could be eliminated without a serious impact on those areas of the county but some may be able to be provided more efficiently. This county has some amazingly talented employees, experts in their fields, that are usually tasked with providing the board with a range of options whenever they consider budget increases or cuts. Board members must analyze those options then select those that make the most sense or ask for more options if those don't make sense. It is the skill to balance the basic analytics with the more personal effect that cuts have on our community that I hope to bring to the board.
Concerns over high property taxes is one of the opinions most expressed to me by the voters in my district. Meanwhile, Kane county voters just last year overwhelmingly approved a $50,000,000 referendum which effectively increased their own taxes to purchase additional Forest Preserve lands. I believe that this action is an example of how my neighbors are willing to pay for things that are important to them and things they trust the board to accomplish. I am committed to directly connect with residents of my district and, with their input, make informed decisions about tax policy.
Question 5: What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I came to Kane County 20 years ago for a job, so I know the value of quality employment opportunities. I want Kane County to be a leader in encouraging ecofriendly businesses with quality employment opportunities. Initiatives like the creation a national canoe trail on the Fox River where recreation, tourism and protecting nature could combine to drive our local economy.
I value the many forest preserves, parks, the Fox River and open spaces in our area and wish to expand them and protect them.
We should all strive to be carbon neutral. The county could and should be a leader in the implementation of clean energy and a clean environment, the environment we live in and want to leave to our kids and grandkids. As a county I think we should consider targeting a future carbon neutral date.
Finally, almost every family has or knows someone who has been affected by the opioid epidemic or mental health issues. County Government is often the first line of assistance for our fellow Illinoisans who suffer from an addiction disease or require mental health services to cope. Unfortunately, those who are affected have tended to be channeled into the Criminal Justice System. We criminalize them. This puts a severe strain on the budgets of County Judicial, Sheriff and Coroner. The county board needs to continue to work hand in hand with these other elected officials to provide effective, humane services to our citizens who are in need and help them to be as efficient as possible in that task. Additionally, we should actively work to encourage the expansion of 708 legislation that allows for the establishment of resources for mental health services to all townships in both North and South Kane County
Question 6: Do you support the Longmeadow Parkway project and, if not, what can be done at this point to stop construction and/or mitigate its impact?
I oppose, as do many of my neighbors, the scale of the Longmeadow project which we believe is going to have a negative effect on the aesthetics of the Brunner forest preserve and the neighborhoods near it. I also oppose, as do nearly all those who I have contacted in District 23, the toll on the bridge. I understand that KDOT has worked hard to put together federal funding for a majority of the project but I think we should push to the very end for alternative funding that would avoid tolling the bridge. If the toll is implemented residents of 23 will be required to pay for using a vital connection to their own community.
I also think we should always be open to halting construction of the bridge to expediently correct problems if at any time unforeseen circumstances in the construction or operation are unsafe or are permanently damaging to irreplaceable natural resources.
Question 7: Do you support a sunset provision for charging tolls on Longmeadow Parkway after it's built?
More importantly, I don't support a toll at all on the Longmeadow Bridge. Before we finalize the tolling of the residents of the 23rd district, we should seek other funding sources.
Question 8: What's the hardest decision you ever had to make?
The decision to run for public office may have been one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make. It certainly is a conscious choice that has affected my life more emotionally than any other decision I've made in recent years anyway. For several years now I have invested a lot of my free time to political activism hoping to change the arc politics in our community, our state and our country. The act of committing to seek political office meant that I would shoulder the fears and hopes of several thousand of my neighbors as I helped steer our county into the future, their future. My conscience will not let me do any less than my best. As a candidate I have attended every full county board and nearly every committee meeting for the past 3 months which amounts to more than 20 meetings per month. I intend to continue to prepare myself for office so I'm ready to work on day one should I be elected. I take the commitment to running for this office very seriously and, if I am fortunate enough to be elected, I will give my best to serve my neighbors in the 23rd District of Kane County.