Kane County candidates differ on bridge toll plan, future pot dispensaries
Candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the Kane County Board's District 4 seat have differing views on the county's decision to charge a toll on the Longmeadow Parkway Bridge that will open in 2022.
Three candidates -- Aurora residents Angela Clay Thomas, Mavis Bates and Nicholas Guillermo -- hope to win the Democratic nod in the March 17 primary election and advance to the Nov. 3 general election.
No candidates filed for the Republican primary.
Earlier this week, county board members voted in favor of creating a .95-cent toll for the Longmeadow Parkway Bridge over the Fox River on the county's northern end to help pay for the $28 million the county will borrow to help build it.
The board denied a plan to allow Kane County residents free use of the bridge, but people in Kane County and Algonquin may apply for a discounted flat fee of $200 a year for unlimited use.
The idea is to build up an endowment fund of sorts, then allow the interest income on that money to pay for the maintenance. When that happens, a future county board should retire the toll, board members have said.
Bates said the county should have gone to residents decades ago to get input on a toll policy for new bridges and, if possible, made use of the bridge free for Kane residents.
"We have to pay for the bridge. We have to pay for its maintenance," Bates said. "I would have liked to see at least those people who live in the towns not have to pay a toll if technically possible."
Thomas, who was elected in 2016 and is seeking a second 4-year term, voted in favor of the toll.
"The train has left the station. No one wants to pay any more tolls, we really don't," Thomas said.
Guillermo did not respond to interview requests.
Thomas and Bates also have differing views on marijuana's legalization in Illinois. The county board in November voted 14-9 against allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas.
Thomas said she personally opposes recreational cannabis but voted yes on dispensaries because the county is looking for more revenue sources as it's kept its yearly tax levy frozen.
"I do not support recreational marijuana, but it's here," Thomas said. "(But) we can't take anything off the table if it's an option to us."
Bates, a small-business owner, said she wanted to get information from Sheriff Ron Hain on whether there were spikes in crime around dispensaries; marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and transactions are cash only.
"We did forgo some possibly considerable revenue," Bates said. "I'm actually more concerned about (the harmful) effects of alcohol than I am marijuana. Alcohol is causing more drunk drivers. Alcohol is more harmful to people's health."
Early voting has begun at certain locations and will run through March 16. District 4 includes portions of Aurora and Montgomery.