Charles Sass: 2021 candidate for Huntley village president
In the race for Huntley Village President, incumbent Chuck Sass is being challenged by Trustee Timothy Hoeft for the top spot in the April 6, 2021, consolidated election.
Occupation: Village president
Civic Involvement: Past secretary/treasurer of Lions Club; past coach of Huntley Legion Traveling Baseball Team; Santa for Legion Christmas party for Kids
Q. How do you view your role in confronting the pandemic: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state and federal authorities?
A. Initially the Village of Huntley adhered to the governor's orders regarding the pandemic. While it was unpopular, I felt it was the right thing to do. We worked with the other McHenry County towns to show a unified voice on how we would handle the issues.
We listened to businesses and provided outside dining on our Village Square by placing 22 picnic tables properly spaced. Businesses outside of the downtown were allowed to provide space in their parking lots.
Q. Did your town continue to adequately serve its constituents during the disruptions caused by the pandemic? If so, please cite an example of how it successfully adjusted to providing services. If not, please cite a specific example of what could have been done better.
A. The Village of Huntley continued to provide services without a noticeable difference. The office staff worked remotely from home where feasible. Residents were able to secure building permits, inspections and payment of bills without interruption.
In our public works department, we had half of our staff working while the other half stayed home. We had to ensure that we had someone to make sure we provided water and sewer service to our residents.
Q. What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A. Local governments should look at the possibility of reducing taxes or at least maintaining the status quo. We eliminated the late fee penalty on overdue water and sewer bills. This year we were able to maintain our levy at the same amount as last year.
Q. What do you see as the most important infrastructure project you must address? Why and how should it be paid for? Conversely, during these uncertain economic times, what infrastructure project can be put on the back burner?
A. There are many infrastructure projects that the village considers important and has budgeted for the coming year. Our annual resurfacing of Huntley streets is vital to ensure that they don't fall into a complete reconstruction which would cost considerably more.
We periodically have our streets reviewed and rated to give us a priority list. History has us spending between 1-2 million dollars annually.
These improvements are paid from sales tax, motor fuel tax and monies left over from the previous year budget that can only be used for capital projects.
This year's budget also includes a project to provide off site water retention for the downtown area so we can expand our footprint of the downtown area and provide train service (Amtrak or Metra) to our residents. This is paid for from the TIF District.
If need be, the realignment of Kreutzer Road could be put on the back burner should funds not be available, however we don't feel this will be the case and we have a grant from the McHenry Council of Government to help fund this improvement.
Q. Do you agree or disagree with the stance your board has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A. The board was unanimous in its vote to not allow recreational marijuana sales in the village. If it would have passed it wasn't guaranteed that a facility would be placed in Huntley.
The revenue generated would have helped fund projects and help pay the unfunded mandates imposed by the state of Illinois. I had no problem with the position taken by the trustees. We still receive money from the state and could still have medical marijuana dispensary in the VOH as they can't be banned.
Q. What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A. I want to continue to explore commercial opportunities for the northern part of the village. Most of our commercial businesses are located south on Route 47, which requires our residents to commute a distance to secure services.
Hopefully the new Jewel will attract these new services, especially a gas station. Affordable housing should be looked at as not everyone can afford a home. If they work in the village they should have an opportunity to live here.
Q. What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A. Experience and past track record. I feel that over my 20 years as mayor and four years as trustee the village has adapted to its growth from 1,100 residents to approximately 28,000.
I have worked tirelessly to bring economic development and job opportunities to our community. We now have access to a full interchange and a four-lane Route 47. These improvements have been a catalyst for attracting Weber Grill distribution building and most recently a large distribution warehouse facility with 1,000 job opportunities.
While still in the works it is looking very favorable that it will happen. We have invested nearly $6 million in the redevelopment of our downtown area to reflect our country charm and create an outdoor community area for our residents to enjoy.
Under my leadership Northwestern Medical Huntley (formerly Centegra) opened a state-of-the-art health care center in our community.
I am committed to continue our track record of success in the village. All of these great things that have happened in the village couldn't have been accomplished without the commitment of a great staff and a board of trustees that have worked together to make the village the best place to live.
Thank you for your vote of confidence in the past and look forward to your vote this year.