Steve Carlson: Candidate profile
Office sought: Lake County Board, District 7
Family: two daughters, 8 grandchildren
Occupation: County Board Member---full time
Education: B.A.History, Western Illinois University 1971
Civic involvement: Grandwood Park Civic Association, Pres. VP, Sgt. At Arms 5 years
Elected offices held: none
Incumbent? If yes, when were first elected: yes, 2002
Questions and Answers
1. Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
As we are all aware, the political climate on the national, state and local level has become problematic, at best. I believe that there is a need for those of us who are willing to listen to both sides, who are willing to respect other points of view, who treat their colleagues and their constituents with the respect that they deserve. It is for this reason that I announce my intention to run for another term on the Lake County Board.
A project we are working on presently is a crisis care center, where our law enforcement officers can take people who have no business in jail or hospital emergency rooms. We are in the process of evaluation extant resources, determine where there are gaps and needs, and how to best address them.
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?
Some of the issues of which I am most proud are the successful initiative to make Lake County Smoke Free, my fight (not successful) against video gambling, the development of a financially sane, reasonable alternative to 53, bringing Lake Michigan water to the Northwest portion of the district, and the fight to save Winchester House. A new one has just been announced, a Crisis Hot Line for all human services in Lake County, called 211. As you will recall from my goals as stated to the Herald from 4 years ago, that was one of my main priorities. I am grateful that 211 has come to fruition.
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?
As we are aware, Lake County Has a balanced budget with a triple A bond rating from all agencies. We froze the levy this year, refraining from talking even new growth. We have reduced head count and continue to consolidate where we can. At some time in the future, in all candor, we will need to increase the levy. Unless you can stop the growth of union contracts, health care, construction contracts, etc. we will need to grow with those things if we wish to continue the current level of service enjoyed by the residents of Lake County. This statement may be used against me politically but it is, in my view, the truth. To claim that you can reduce taxes indefinitely is to go down the path of deficit spending, like out friends in Springfield and Washington. It is the easy thing to do politically but impossible to maintain. As far as eliminating unincorporated areas from county oversight, I would question the feasibility in terms of responsibility for roads, infrastructure, utilities, the sheriff, the jail, the courts, the health department, etc. These are all vital services that need to be maintained.
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.
Lake County has taken extraordinary, award winning efforts to improve transparency and public access. One has only to go to the County website to have access to court records, public meetings, detailed mapping and a great deal more. We have also instituted TV coverage of all committee meetings, both live and archived. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and am willing to compare with any other governmental entity.
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?
A great step was taken with the opening of the Central Permit facility in Libertyville, which consolidated the county permit process, the health department, stormwater Management and others. The recorder of deeds, the Clerk and the treasurer are all involved in ongoing efforts to automate and digitize records, to preserve them and for ease of access.