Lucio Estrada: Candidate profile, Kane County Board District 20
Republican Lucio Estrada of Elgin and Democrat Cherryl Fritz Strathmann of Elgin are newcomers vying for Kane County Board District 20 in the Nov. 3 general election. The incumbent, Penny Wegman, is leaving the board to run for Kane County Auditor.
Estrada, a U.S. Army Reserves sergeant, is president of Elginites United, a community organization dedicated to serving the people of Elgin.
To explore his campaign website, visit www.lucioestrada.com.
The 20th District includes the near west side and the northeast side of Elgin. 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 Estrada's replies.
For complete election coverage, visit dailyherald.com and click on "Election Central."
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. The day my daughter was born was the day I knew I wanted to get involved in my community. That may sound strange, but there is a reason why. When I was 17 my father was murdered by gang members a block up from where I currently live. It's an experience that NO child should ever have to go through.
As gang violence has increased in my district, the politicians have remained silent. I decided that I couldn't be silent. My goal is to work with the future state's attorney in going after gangs using both criminal and civil law.
Besides tackling gang violence, I want to continue to grow and expand access to our natural resources. We must preserve our Fox River and continue to fund our Forest Preserves. My personal goal is to plant 400 native trees across Kane County for the benefit of future generations.
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'm a product of my community. I am not a lawyer or politician. I'm a w2 employee, single father, soldier in the U.S. Army, and God-fearing man. My neighbors know who I am and I share in their struggles. My priorities will include tackling the gang violence that plagues our streets. I want to hold elected officials accountable. Especially our Sheriff, who has committed multiple civil rights violations against minorities. Most importantly, I want to get more people involved in their government.
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. Currently, the board majority is doing more with less. They are committed to keeping property taxes low on by freezing the county's tax levy. Unfortunately, our county is well run, while the state is severely mismanaged. The chief threat to our finances are people and business fleeing the state due to terrible choices of Springfield politicians.
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. Kane County government is the most transparent and accessible of all the collar counties. The Auditors office has an online checkbook, which allows taxpayers to see where every penny that is spent. The Circuit Court Clerk has a new case management system that increases accessibility to court records. Those are just some examples of how our government and countywide elected officials are working for the people.
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 countywide elected officials have done amazing things with their offices to improve services, automation, and customer service. During this pandemic Kane County has needed to find new ways and innovations to deliver services to the people. Some examples are virtual courts, making mail in ballots more accessible, and virtual appointments at certain County offices.
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. Politicians should not be choosing their voters and drawing their own districts. So we need to take them out of that decision process. I would call for an independent redistricting commission that is comprised of citizens who are demographically, politically, and geographically represent our county. We should also look at software which can create county board districts that are truly independent.
Q. Do you support the current salary and benefits structure for the county board?
A. Citizens in my district are working people. They are scrappers, waitresses, landscapers, mechanics, and construction workers. Those are the people who truly make our system work, not the politicians. I am a proud blue collar worker, and I don't believe that politicians should be getting paid $26,000 a year, receiving platinum health insurance, or adding to the massive unfunded pension liability of our state.
Q. What actions must the county take to continue to address COVID-19?
A. I support what the county is currently doing to address COVID-19. Any future data coming from the Kane County Department of Public Health should include deaths occurring in nursing homes. This will allow us to track which nursing homes are keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe and highlight those who are not.
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. My plan is to continue the work of the board majority in freezing property taxes while maintaining a balanced budget. It is important to note that even though our revenue has remained relatively flat, county services have increased and become more efficient. The county board has already made substantial investments in long term infrastructure needs, like the new Coroner's Officer and the Long Meadow Parkway. I will be proactive in looking for other areas that we can improve the lives of the people of Kane County.