Roberta "Bobbie" Andresen: Candidate profile, Kane County Board District 24
Republican Roberta "Bobbie" Andresen of Carpentersville is challenging incumbent Democrat Jarett Sanchez of Carpentersville for the Kane County Board District 24 seat in the Nov. 3 general election.
Andresen was appointed to the Carpentersville Village Board in June 2019. She is a member of the Tri-City Evergreen Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2298. In 2008, Bobbie and her husband, Ken, took over organizing the annual Dundee Township Memorial Day parade from Fred and DeLoris Doederlein, who coordinated it for decades.
District 24 covers portions of Carpentersville and Barrington Hills.
For a district map, visit countyofkane.org.
The Daily Herald recently asked the candidates to answer a series of questions. Here are Andresen'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: Serving the public is in my heart and in my bones. It started with my six years as an Air Force military police officer.
When I learned that our district had only one candidate, the one-term incumbent, I wanted to offer voters a choice.
With my background in accounting and office management, I wanted to make sure our district had a representative with the experience and commitment to keep the county tax levy frozen, and spending under control, at this difficult time for everyone.
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 would use my 25-plus years of experience with budgeting, spreadsheets, and accounting to be a partner with the excellent leadership team at the county, including the current treasurer, auditor, and finance director. One of my priorities would be to find areas in the county that can produce an income to relieve the burden on our homeowners.
For instance, I have been speaking with the village manager of Carpentersville and there is a location owned by several government entities that I would like to see turned into an outdoor music theater.
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 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: Eight years ago, Chairman Lauzen, Treasurer Rickert, and Auditor Hunt set an agenda that would freeze the county property tax rate, reduce our bonded debt, and fund our employee pension obligations. It has succeeded and I would support continuing those policies.
COVID-19 has threatened that, but I believe that with the $92.9 million federal CARES dollars and, with the state of Illinois releasing more of the federal money they are currently holding back, we can keep the freeze in effect. As long as we have experienced financial professionals in county elected positions.
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 Illinois Policy Institute rated Kane County with its highest score in the state when they studied this issue. You can listen to an audio tape of every single county board meeting, even all the committees, with easy links on the county Web page. The website is comprehensive and easy to navigate and IT Director Roger Fahnestock is one of the top people in the state in his field.
During COVID-19, the county YouTube channel has been a great source to listen to meetings live and the public is always given ways to participate by phone or email with their comments, when coming into the building may not be practicable.
I would not support a scheme like in Cook County to cut off taxpaying residents outside our cities and villages. That would hurt our agriculture community and many land owners and homeowners who pay significant taxes to the county and deserve services.
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: We have one of the very best circuit clerks in the state of Illinois, Tom Hartwell. His office is a model for using automation and efficiencies to save tax dollars without sacrificing service. He has returned $7.5 million in the 8 years he has served and has reduced employees from 125 to 100.
It comes back to having experienced financial professionals in county leadership and oversight positions. I have significant experience with databases, technology, and managing people. I would seek to serve on committees like finance and administration where I could use those skills.
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: I believe that the best government is a lean and smaller one. I would support a reduction of the board from 24 to 16.
The fair way to remap is by drawing districts that follow best practice guidelines of being compact, contiguous and keep communities together as much as possible. A computer modeling system as practiced in Iowa takes a lot of the political game playing out of the process. I think we can lower the tax burden on our county and eliminate duplication, even if it meant working myself out of a seat I would support that 100%.
Q: Do you support the current salary and benefits structure for the county board?
A: No. I think it is a part-time position and should pay as such. $25K a year is generous and should be frozen indefinitely. Eliminating eight positions is $200K in salaries alone annually; those funds can go to the sheriff or health department. When someone gets into public office to make money, it is a dangerous place to be. I would end the health insurance perk for board members that my opponent takes. It costs the county in liability as much as $15,000 to $20,000 each year when a board member takes it.
Q: What actions must the county take to continue to address COVID-19?
A: We need to have our legislators force the governor to release more of the federal CARES dollars he intercepted to help balance the state's mismanaged budget. That money was supposed to pass through the state and come to the local governments. The county must continue careful oversight of the CARES dollars disbursed to make sure it is in compliance with federal rules so there are no sanctions or penalties imposed.
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: Spending priorities will always be the Sheriff's Office, the fire districts, and the health department, who are all on the front lines in the COVID fight.
Next come our transportation and infrastructure, small business support and relief, and our nonprofits that, along with the health department, are addressing the vast mental health and opioid issues.
I also support high speed fiber optic networks to be enhanced as so many educate and work from home. This is critical now more than ever.