Matt Hanson: Candidate profile
Name: Matt Hanson
Office sought: Kane County Board, District 6
Occupation: Locomotive Engineer, Kane County Board Member, Kane County Forest Preserve District Commissioner
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (focus in Finance) University of Richmond, VA 1995; Hong Kong International School (HS) 1991
Civic involvement: Active member at St. Mark's Lutheran Church -- Aurora; Volunteer with Green Harvest Food Pantry; Vice-Local chairman and assistant legislative representative SMART -- Transportation Division -- Local 171 Aurora
Previous elected offices held: Kane County Board District 6 Representative -- Legislative Committee Co-Chair and member of Labor Management, Development, Transportation, and Executive Committees. Kane County Forest Preserve Commissioner and member of Finance Committee.
Incumbent? Yes, elected in 2018
Questions and Answers
1. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
I am honest and put my neighbors' and constituents' concerns first when serving as their voice on the Kane County Board. I will continue to stand up for what is right for county residents, while being truthful and open when taking positions that may not be popular. I will continue to build on the successes achieved during my first term and keep the county and forest preserve moving in the right direction.
The safety and well-being of the residents of Kane County and its employees come before anything else when making difficult decisions on the board. I want every resident of Kane County and District 6 to feel safe and welcome in our diverse community, and every employee of both Kane County and the Forest Preserve District to feel the same way when serving our 550,000 neighbors. Continuing to ensure Kane County is a desirable and affordable destination for residents, businesses and employees will remain a priority of mine as well.
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?
It has been a productive first term and I am proud to have helped change the direction of spending for the safety of Kane County residents. The board not only cut public safety funding in 2017 by voting to discontinue the use of electronic monitoring, but made everyday life less safe for our residents when doing so. I am glad to have worked with Sheriff Hain, his department, and my colleagues on the board to restore Electronic Monitoring. The budget for 2020 is not only balanced, but includes a significant increase in funding for public safety initiatives. I worked with fellow board members from both parties to ensure the county will secure millions of dollars toward infrastructure repairs and improvements from the capital bill passed by our legislators in Springfield. Kane County is finally moving forward with construction plans for a new multi-department building that will feature a desperately overdue coroner's facility. I am also proud to have helped the employees of Kane County receive new contracts which provide much deserved benefit and wage increases for the next few years.
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?
Balancing the revenue and expense equation for any body of government is a challenge. Over time expenses associated with our valuable employees such as pensions and salaries will increase, as will the cost of commodities and services of contracted vendors. I feel strongly the county board should not trim nor cut budgets potentially jeopardizing public safety, and we need to ensure our county's roads, bridges and infrastructure system remain modern and reliable. Re-examining new revenue streams, fees charged for existing services, and strengthening the working relationship Kane County has with legislators in Springfield and Washington will only help on the revenue side.
Results of the 2020 Census will better illuminate what we know to be true about Kane County: it is one of the few counties in Illinois with a growing population. Excluding unincorporated areas from county services will make Kane County less desirable for existing and potential residents, employers and visitors. It will also make continued, responsible development and growth following the 2040 Land Use Plan guidelines very difficult. One of Kane County's many strengths is diversity, and excluding the unincorporated residents from county oversight is not something I support.
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.
While the county board passed a balanced budget for 2020, the process in doing so was complex and understandably time consuming. Receiving necessary information in bits and pieces makes the budgeting process even more complex, and too often in board meetings information and data appears "out of the blue" just as meaningful discussions are about to be had leading up to a vote. I would like to see fewer surprises at board meetings so my colleagues and I can better prepare for the resolutions and issues before us.
I believe Kane County departments and their respective staffs do a commendable job in assisting any member of the public in attempts to receive county information. Some information is readily available online without a formal or special request, while others need direction and assistance of a county employee utilizing the proper request procedure. I wholeheartedly support measures to aid the public and our constituents accessibility to county records and information, and I expect elected officials and candidates to be open with their records as well.
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?
I feel confident that every department within the county continues to look to expand and streamline offerings to customers, vendors, employees and residents. There is a continuing belief and desire that if more can be done to improve the quality of life for users of Kane County services through automation and ingenuity then it shall be considered and perhaps carefully implemented. The new bilingual 2-1-1 information phone line, the new mobile phone application offered by Kane County Forest Preserve, an enhanced system to look up and research property taxes, expanded election voting options and a satellite office of the clerk are just a few very recent examples of the hard work of our employees and leadership to enhance the Kane County quality of life.