Theresa Meshes: Candidate profile, McHenry County Board District 1
Democrat Theresa Meshes of Fox River Grove is challenging incumbent Republicans Tom Wilbeck of Barrington Hills and Yvonne M. Barnes of Cary for two seats on the McHenry County Board District 1 in the Nov. 3 general election.
Meshes, a middle school teacher, is a member of the Fox River Grove PTO Board and recently served a two-year term as PTO president.
To explore her campaign website, check meshesformchenry.wordpress.com.
District 1 represents Algonquin, Barrington Hills, Cary, Fox River Grove, Huntley, Lake in the Hills and Trout Lake.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates to answer a series of questions. Here are Meshes' replies.
For complete election coverage, visit dailyherald.com and click on "Election Central."
Q: What do you bring to the table that your opponent does not?
A: I am committed to making sure that the development in McHenry County considers the environmental and economic impact. I am interested in fully representing the people of District 1 and bringing their feedback to the board when we vote on measures and plans for the county.
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing your district and how do you propose tackling it on the county board?
A: The economic health of our community is always a pressing issue with bringing and sustaining business in our towns. We need to look at how our policies can support local businesses to take root and thrive within McHenry County.
We also need to make sure that we are looking for solutions regarding our natural resources. Issues with flooding and water drainage are facing the entire county. We need to have expert opinion on solving this issue.
Q: What have we learned as a county from the COVID-19 pandemic and what changes should be made looking forward as a result?
A: We witnessed how politicizing a health crisis resulted in confusion and derision. We also saw our health care system be tested by issues in COVID testing, mental health counseling, and in how to seek proper treatment of ailments. The McHenry County Health Board did give clear, timely advice.
However, we need to assure that information is shared broadly to our community about resources and advisories. We need to assure that our facilities are properly funded and staffed and that our professionals are respected for their expertise.
Q: Do you support a 10% salary reduction for McHenry County Board members? Why or why not? Are there other cuts to the budget you would pursue first?
A: I do support a 10% salary reduction for county board members. The current average income for a resident of McHenry County is $33,118 a year. The county board position is part-time and pays around $20,000 a year with benefits that are not afforded to other part-time employees of the county.
It is very prudent that the board reevaluate the compensations and benefits of its members and of the county staff. We need to assure that our programs are serving our community and those that are not need to be reevaluated as well.
Q: Should the McHenry County Jail keep its contract to house U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees?
A: No, we should not keep our contract to house detainees of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It is not ethical to make a profit on housing prisoners.
Q: Should on-duty McHenry County sheriff's deputies wear body cameras?
A: Yes, on-duty deputies should wear body cameras as it protects them from accusations. It gives definitive evidence of how an individual handled their duties as an officer and how an individual interacted with the police.
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. In particular in the suburbs, President Toni 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?
A: McHenry County has high property taxes, which are a burden for our residents and business owners. It deters people from homeownership and creating business. We need to assure that we continue to lower the rate and that we use our financial resources responsibly.
As people struggle to pay their bills because of the pandemic, our county will face financial hardship. We need to determine the best way to serve our community with necessary programs while easing the financial burden. I do not agree that we should eliminate county oversight for unincorporated areas.
The actions and development in these areas impact the entire county and the citizens in these areas need access to county resources. The county has a responsibility to assure that we act for all members and parts of the county and are planning for the continued success of the entire county.
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: I do believe that the public has access to records and that the board is transparent. However, I think that we need to work on engaging our residents so that they take an interest in planning for our future and setting priorities within our county.
The county could work on their webpage to highlight initiative and seek public comment on the most pressing issues of the county. Many board meetings are at night and most are now accessible to view remotely. However, we need to make sure that the meetings most pressing for our community are at accessible times for the community and assure that those residents who cannot attend can still submit their comments for public attention.
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: Our webpage has to be user friendly and allow for people to submit forms, requests, and payments digitally. We need to assure that our county employees have good customer service skills and are properly trained to be knowledgeable about their departments and the services of our county.
We need to take complaints seriously and work to improve in the areas that serve the community most.