Benjamin Tucker Olson: 2022 candidate for Lake County Board District 10


Party: Republican

Office sought: Lake County Board District 10

City: Mundelein

Age: 69

Occupation: Executive search consultant, Early Cochran & Olson, LLC

Previous offices held: No prior public offices held


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: Having run a small business built on listening to my clients, I will bring a business perspective and common sense qualities to the Lake County Board. Keeping Lake County a desirable and affordable place to raise a family and start a business is essential. The county board has significant responsibilities which require careful, informed consideration. Having someone who listens to constituent concerns and works to cut through government red tape is precisely what residents I've spoken with want from their next Lake County Board member.

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: Constituents want all units of government, but especially local government, to be careful stewards of their hard earned tax dollars. In order to keep property and other taxes as low as possible, our goal should be that all spending is sustainable, well-planned, and carefully vetted. This type of budgeting perspective will require careful consideration of competing interests. My objective is to prioritize those key areas where timely investment can drive the best return for taxpayers.

Q: Given the recent history of flat tax levies, do you think the county/forest preserve have done good jobs of budgeting or do you see specific area that can be improved?

A: The current leadership on the county board has relied on significant amounts of federal and state funds allowing them to keep the levy flat. Unfortunately, these funds, a considerable portion of which have helped with infrastructure, won't last forever. We need to ensure our residents that county board members know how to recognize and enact efficiencies, cut waste, and eliminate government red tape to best serve residents and business development. We must find ways to live within our taxpayers' means while supporting our forest preserves, infrastructure, health department, public safety, stormwater management, Veteran services and other necessary county programs. The county should continue to find ways to form intergovernmental agreements to save taxpayer money and look to develop more private-public partnerships to drive economic development.

Q: Would you support putting a referendum on the ballot for voters to decide if they wish to issue new bonds to preserve open spaces, restore habitats, create more trails and upgrade forest preserves?

A: First, I want to better understand how we are using current funding to maintain and enhance our 31,000 acres of forest preserve land and associated facilities. If we can demonstrate an ability to preserve open spaces, restore habitats, create more trails and upgrade our holdings within the current budget and through grants, then I would not support asking for more revenue. If the forest preserve does ask for more revenue, after identifying specific purposes/needs, a referendum is the appropriate mechanism to raise those revenues.

Q: What is the single most important issue facing your district and how should the county address it?

A: Lake County is one of the most expensive places in the nation to live, and the cost of living and overall tax burden in Lake County is continuing to grow. For young families, those with tight budgets, and small businesses, any effort by the county to cut taxes and live within its current means is critical. According to county data, Lake County is experiencing its first small decline in population. Anything the Lake County Board can do to understand what is causing that decline and address the rise in costs should be explored.

The gasoline tax pushed by the current board leadership was unnecessary, not targeted to specific projects, and should be repealed.

Q: Lake County officials want public feedback on how to spend portions of some $135 million in leftover federal pandemic funding. What are your thoughts on how the money ought to be spent?

A: We need to understand completely the restrictions on the use of "leftover" federal pandemic funds. It is important that the county board be careful not to create new programs which will not be sustainable without increasing taxes after these one-time funds are spent. Because the cost of living here is very high, utilizing these funds to shore up current spending programs or to make capital improvements should be prioritized.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.