Verner 'Vern' Tepe: 2022 candidate for Kane County Board District 22
Occupation: Real estate investor
Previous offices held: Current Kane County Board member, Elgin Township Trustee
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?
A. I'm running for reelection to the Kane County Board -- District 22, on the West side of Elgin. Two years ago when I ran for this office I stated that my main objectives will be to: • Advocate for renewable energy;
• Improve and enhance resources to address mental health issues
• Expand services for seniors
• Provide clean and affordable water throughout the county.
I'm happy to say that I have contributed to all four of these -- and a lot more.
In the next few years, Kane County's finances will be even more challenging. My pledge will be to see that the residents of Kane County get THE MOST VALUE for the property, sales, & gas taxes that they pay.
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. In the two years that I have been on the board I'm extremely proud of my accomplishments. First, as chair of the Public Service Committee I led the effort to redistrict the County's Precincts. THIS HAD NOT BEEN DONE IN OVER TWENTY YEARS! More importantly, we were able to accomplish the main objectives required by the State guidelines and get it done within the reduced timeline.
As a member of the Public Health Committee I've been able to assist in dealing with COVID vaccinations and Mental Health issues. As challenging as it was in the beginning, I believe that the County has done an excellent job of coordinating and delivering resources to handle vaccinations and Covid-related health issues.
I've also been active in other ways, particularly as a member of the Executive Committee.
Q. Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming and how the county should deal with them.
A. For far too long the County Board has been 'kicking the can down the road' in regard to properly funding county activities. Of Kane County's $300 Million Budget, only $50 Million comes from Property Taxes. We must deal with funding!
Major issues we are facing today:
COMPENSATION We have employees who are still making minimum wage, and others whose salaries are so low that they are frequently recruited.
INFLATION The impact of inflation Kane County's finances will be dramatic. Increased costs for energy, materials, and services will strain the budget. This is where my experience and strengths can be utilized. MANDATED COURT CHANGES -- Illinois has enacted sweeping reforms that will require all law enforcement people to wear body cameras. That means all of those recordings need to be stored and be retrievable by the court, state's attorney, and public defender. AND reviewed. Just the extra hours required to review the recordings is expensive and will require additional personnel.
Q. How do you rate the county government on transparency and the public's access to records? If it's adequate, explain why. If you think improvements are needed, delineate them.
A. I would give the county a B+ in this area. All board meetings are recorded and are online to the general public. Most records are also on line and available. The key issue that occurred in this area is where on employee received an excessive amount of training (education) that was financed by the county. This had been approved because the transactions occurred over several years, and individually did not rise to a level of concern. Our new auditor discovered the situation and brought it to the attention of the appropriate departments. Although, in my personal opinion, more should have been done, the State's Attorney recommend a course of actions and we have made changes to our policies and procedures to see that this type of situation does not reoccur.
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. COVID has 'forced' everyone to work differently. It's amazing to me how ALL of the county departments have created unique and yet effective ways in dealing with the public while dealing with the COVID restrictions. The key thing that I would like to see happen is to expand on-site services in Elgin and Aurora, particularly with the County Clerk's Office. This is already in process.