Jack Kaskel: 2022 candidate for McHenry County Board District 8
Office sought: McHenry County Board District 8
Occupation: Small business owner, Red Buffalo Nursery
Previous offices held: None
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.
A: The largest part of our $216-million county budget goes to the salaries of county personnel and the salaries of the people supplying our contractual services.
My focus as county board member will be to emphasize "buy locally", including personnel -- outsourcing jobs to non-local companies will not improve our communities, our tax base, and our quality of life over the long run. We need to grow our communities by supporting the people that make McHenry County home.
The threats to our county's fiscal health and quality of life are both short and long term; inflation, tight labor market, infrastructure, climate change, education, and technological advances. Addressing these threats will require working with other local governments and community organizations to find innovative solutions.
Q: Is there a specific service or amenity that is lacking in the county? If so, how do you propose to provide and fund it?
A: There are many services and amenities that I am passionate about and I will do my best to guide the county to work with the groups dedicated to solving those service-oriented problems. We should work further with Internet Freedom for McHenry County to bring reliable and reasonably priced broadband internet access to all citizens, schools, and businesses in McHenry County.
We should work further with The Land Conservancy of McHenry County, Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, McHenry County Conservation District, McHenry County Farm Bureau, and the McHenry County Department of Transportation to help protect open-space, farm land, natural areas, and groundwater -- to encourage our citizens to get enjoy nature more, walk more, bicycle more, go to the park more and meet more of our neighbors.
Q: Does there need to be more bipartisanship and cooperation on the county board? If yes, what would you do to help make that happen?
A: At the county board level, most interactions seem to be civil and respectful, even when the issues, gay pride flag, and ICE detention, can be polarizing. We need to continue to be civil and respectful in the future and try to find more ways to achieve common ground.
Q: The COVID pandemic put a spotlight on the need for mental health services. What role should the county play in this?
A: The COVID pandemic has definitely put the spotlight on mental health issues. The county and the McHenry County Health Department should play an active role in helping police officers when responding to domestic disputes, we need to involve the right people, social workers, who are trained in de-escalating these volatile situations.
We also need to find ways to reach out and communicate with our neighbors, this pandemic has isolated people even more, and escalated problems of drug and alcohol abuse.
One way to start the process of healing and re-socialization is to be forthright and courteous to the many canvassers you can expect knocking on your door and calling you this election season.
Q: What is the single most important issue facing your district and how should the county address it?
A: Managed growth. Our population has increased 70% in the past 20 years and is forecast to increase another 70% in the next 20 years -- this will negatively impact our quality of life if not managed properly. That is why I am running to be the newest county board member in District 8 -- to preserve our rural character, our farms, our open-space, fresh air, rivers, groundwater, and natural communities.
We need to guide development and industry to the cities where the necessary services exist to support them; to infill our housing, not have a random patchwork of development throughout our rural areas; to reuse old industrial and brown-field sites within our existing municipal areas.
We've made some mistakes along the way, but we've made good progress with our decadal development and transportation plans -- we need to pay attention to these plans and all the voices of our community members that have added to them.