Steve Bruesewitz: 2022 candidate for Kane County Board District 12
Office sought: Kane County Board District 12
City: St. Charles
Occupation: Retired stair installer
Previous offices held: St. Charles Township Democrats Chair currently
Q: Do you support an increase in the countywide retail sales tax to help pay for expenses related to the SAFE T legislation? Yes/No? If yes, which SAFE T-related expenses, specifically, should be covered with the additional tax? If no, how do you suggest paying for the increased expenses related to the SAFE T legislation?
A: I recognize the value of the SAFE T legislation, however, I intend to not burden residents and local businesses with increased taxation. in this particular case raising retail sales tax county-wide. The County Board must first devise a strategic implementation plan focused on efficiency and cost-effectiveness to minimize the financial impact. Then it will able to proactively pursue a broad, comprehensive investigation of all potential funding sources, including state and foundation grants as well as diverse organizations and alliances countywide.
I would support empowering residents via referendum to determine how best to cover any potential shortfall created by implementation of the SAFE T program.
Q: What should be done to retain county staff? If you propose increases in salaries or benefits, how should those added costs be covered?
A: In reality, the County Board has decreased the pay of county employees by repeatedly failing to adequately adjust their salaries for inflation. A significant portion the costs to adjust staff salaries would be accommodated by a substantial decrease in turnover, recruitment, and training costs which are currently being incurred to minimally fulfill vital county functions while not elevating staff performance through experience and expertise in specific roles. Loyalty must be reciprocal, to cultivate an experienced, qualified, and dependable staff, the County must demonstrate its steadfast respect and appreciation to all of its employees.
Q: Do you believe the county auditor should be an elected or appointed position? Why? Are there any other countywide offices that are currently elected positions that you believe should be appointed instead? If so, please explain.
A: I truly believe the County Auditor should be elected to promote the most authentic representative democracy possible at the county level while optimizing accountability of this critical role. Moreover, by designating the County Auditor be elected, the County would gain greater control over the salary range for this vital position than if it were appointed.
Q: The county has seen an increase in truck traffic. How do you propose to address the infrastructure needs that come with this increase in traffic? Do you support a moratorium on warehouse developments in unincorporated areas of the county? Yes/No? Please explain.
A: A comprehensive, regional approach to mitigate the issue of increased truck traffic and its impacts must be initiated, requiring collaboration with state, county, and city entities as the issue is not exclusively within the County's domain. Clearly, this collaboration would include improvements in public transportation to better serve residents and businesses while protecting the planet. With the uncertainties of local, national, and global economies, it would be reckless to halt warehouse developments that generate revenue, create jobs, and grow the local economy.
Q: What direction do you think the county should move as it relates to its aging buildings? Build new or rehab existing buildings? Why and how would you propose the county pay for any new buildings or improvements?
A: A crucial first step to address the condition of the county's brick-and-mortar assets would be a feasibility study to determine the cost-effectiveness of repairing versus replacing structures on a building by building basis. As existing bonds continue to be paid off, new bonds could be secured to begin the most critical repairs or replacements. Since I have a solid background in construction, I would be particularly interested in serving on relevant committees to enhance Kane County's buildings.
Q: How do you think the county should spend the remaining COVID-19 relief funds?
A: I would support a conservative use of these funds to reinforce the Kane County Health Department as both a preventative and preparedness measure for any future risks, threats, or issues affecting residents' health. That said, the broad range of health and economic impacts because of the pandemic will continue from unemployment and homelessness to healthcare, crime, and addiction that would greatly benefit from a portion of these resources.
Q: The COVID pandemic also put a spotlight on the need for mental health services. What role should the county play in this?
A: Certainly the COVID pandemic along with other emergent social issues have underscored the critical need for comprehensive mental health services to meet the diverse mental health needs of all socioeconomic groups. Kane County could lead this effort by integrating the broad spectrum of mental health and public safety services. This would serve as a vital first step in improving outcomes while optimizing resources at the County and local levels.