Chase A. Thomas: Candidate profile, Lake County Board District 1
Democrat Chase A. Thomas is challenging Republican incumbent Linda Pedersen for the Lake County Board District 1 seat.
Q: 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?
A: As an active member of the community, knowing that there are ongoing issues in the county such as inadequate infrastructure, high tax rates and poor delivery of social services for those with substance abuse and other mental illnesses is what motivates me to run for this position. Given my experience as an educator and human services professional, I am thrilled at the opportunity to make a difference in my own community and others within my reach.
Q: 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?
A: I am not an incumbent.
Q: 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.
A: One of my own, personal morals is balance, meaning that I believe there needs to be balance in everything. As a county, there are many departments which oversee a variety of facets of the government structure. We, as members of the community and those who are elected officials need to be diligent in how our revenue is spent to ensure that spending is reflective of community need and not leading us into worse situations. In other words, the decisions we make today can have either better outcomes or worse consequences in the future. As a result, I see COVID-19 having drastic impacts on availability of jobs, cost of living, accessibility to services and so forth so the county needs to ensure we are listening to those affecting and make our decisions based on facts but also the thoughts of our community as well.
Q: 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.
A: In my opinion, the county governments level of transparency and public access to records is adequate. If we think about it, a good portion of our county does not even know they have a county government so how would they know where to go to access public records. In which case, improvements are needed to ensure that our communities are well-informed in what is going on both locally and on a county level. Transparency is key but so is ensuring easy access to information.
Q: 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: In the age of technology, digitizing records and making electronic systems the norm saves both time and money. While it may sound silly, why have someone time and date stamp hundreds and hundreds of copies of a particular document over the course of however many days when a computer can do it in seconds? Automation does not always mean fewer jobs, it means different jobs. Someone still has to design and oversee databases and be available to answer questions to those who use these systems. However, technology is quick, convenient and provides more funding to more important issues such as mental health services.