Verner (Vern) Tepe: Candidate profile, Kane County Board District 22

  • Verner (Vern) Tepe, Democratic candidate for Kane County Board District 22 in the Nov. 3 general election.

    Verner (Vern) Tepe, Democratic candidate for Kane County Board District 22 in the Nov. 3 general election.

 
Updated 10/15/2020 9:35 AM

Democrat Verner (Vern) Tepe of Elgin is challenging incumbent Republican Douglas J. Scheflow of Elgin for Kane County Board District 22 in the Nov. 3 general election.

Tepe, who works in computer consultancy and property investment, has served as an Elgin Township trustee since 2017. He is a board member for the Family Service Association; and active in creation and promotion of the mental health referendum in Elgin Township.

 

To explore his campaign website, visit www.vern4kane.com.

The 22nd district includes parts of western Elgin and Elgin Township. For a map of the district, visit www.countyofkane.org.

The Daily Herald recently asked the candidates to answer a series of questions. Here are Tepe's replies.

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: No answer given.

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: My wife and I thoroughly enjoy our life in Kane County and we have been able to become engaged in local civic and volunteer activities.

As an Elgin Township Trustee for the past 3 years, I am proud of the contributions that I have made. Moving on to the county board would afford me the opportunity to bring the same dedication and enthusiasm that I have to Kane County.

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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, Cook County 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?

A: The Kane County budget is about $300 million annually. In addition to establishing policy, a large part of the board's responsibility is in managing and allocating these funds.

My extensive business background and recent experience in public office are two key assets that will allow me to contribute to managing these tasks in an effective manner.

My main objectives will be to: advocate for renewable energy; improve and enhance resources to address mental health issues, expand services for seniors, and to provide clean and affordable water throughout the 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: The county needs a comprehensive and cohesive website much like CyberDrive is for the state. Individual departments have made their own attempt at creating a website for their specific area. Although major improvements have been made, they often fall short in being productive, informative, and useful to the user.

A centralized group responsible for creating and managing web access should be created. Transparency is always a challenge. For example: The county budget is long, complex and very involved. Well over 400 pages. Although it is very comprehensive, it is also difficult to understand.

But, at the same time, would the effort to explain the budget in detail be worthwhile? An interesting dilemma.

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: Whenever I've gone to any county office with an issue or question, I have received excellent and exceptional service. The only issue that occurs, with me, is that I'm not at the right place and need to be redirected to another location. Perhaps a few more strategically located branch offices, that had the ability to cross department lines, would be a better alternative.

Q: The county board will undergo redistricting following the 2020 Census. What is the most fair process? Do you support the current number of seats on the board?

A: Currently there are 24 districts and they are apportioned geographically so that representation is from the entire county, not from high population areas.

I agree with that structure and with reallocation every 10 years based on census data. However, I would support efforts to reduce the size of the board to about 16 districts, and increase the compensation by about 50%.

We need to assure that we have representatives that want to do the job and that they are compensated appropriately. It may appear on the surface to be a part-time job, but you are often putting in full-time hours. Let's make sure that we don't lose out on getting quality personnel because they can't afford to take (or run) for the position.

Q: Do you support the current salary and benefits structure for the county board?

A: Again as stated above, I would support efforts to reduce the size of the board, to about 16 districts, and increase the compensation by about 50%.

We need to assure that we have representatives that want to do the job and that they are compensated appropriately. It may appear on the surface to be a part-time job, but you are often putting in full-time hours. Let's make sure that we don't lose out on getting quality personnel because they can't afford to take (or run) for the position.

Q: What actions must the county take to continue to address COVID-19?

A: First, we need to make sure that the Kane County Health Department is involved in every aspect. They have done an extremely good job in disseminating and coordinating information and policies. Let's work with science -- not politics.

Second, as the courts and other services open we need to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to protect everyone involved and curtail any possible spread or outbreak.

Third, we need to support all of the efforts of our local food banks. People are hurting and they need help. Let's make sure they don't go hungry.

Fourth, we need to help the small businesses that are feeling the brunt of this pandemic. Let's use some of the COVID funds to defray their license costs.

Fifth, let's work with renters, landlords, and mortgage holders to keep people in their homes.

Sixth, let's support our mental health providers and organizations to allow them to address the additional stress and difficulties that people are facing.

Q: The new board will take over during a time of unprecedented budget challenges. What is your plan to balance the budget? What will your spending priorities be?

A: Due to the eight-year austerity program that has been in effect, there was going to be a budget crisis anyway. COVID has just added to that burden. We MUST look to increase revenue in both existing as well as new sources.

Currently, the budget is at about $300 million. About $50 million (1/6th) comes from real estate taxes. The rest from sales tax, gas tax, court fees, and about 150 other sources. BUT all of these will be producing much less particularly for the current year as well as next year. Reluctantly we probably need to look at a hiring freeze, a freeze on raises and promotions, as well as other ways to cut costs without endangering lives.

All of this is unfortunate, but under these conditions: My first priority would be to keep existing personnel. We don't need to add to the unemployment numbers. Second priority would be to defray (or delay) any equipment purchases. Third, work with major department heads to see what can be cut or deferred.

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