Ted Penesis: 2022 candidate for Kane County Board District 16
Office sought: Kane County Board District 16
City: South Elgin
Occupation: Director of Community Outreach, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (retired this month)
Previous offices held: None
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: Kane County's current board has already voted against offering a ballot referendum to increase the retail sales tax. County board members have a special responsibility to ensure all tax dollars are spent wisely. Therefore, if elected, I would consult with key county staff, fellow board members and other county-elected officials to assess SAFE-T Act costs.
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: The first step is to meet with county administrators and staff to learn more about their issues and concerns. Next, a comprehensive attraction/retention survey and salary/benefit analysis should be conducted to ensure we are competitive with our neighboring government entities. The county conducted a similar process for the Kane County State's Attorney's office and a plan was developed to help with the retention and recruitment of attorneys. Whatever plan is developed, we have a special responsibility to be fiscally responsible as well as meet the needs of our constituents.
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: Representative democracy is not perfect -- no system is -- but elections provide a check-and-balance on power, and elected officials need to answer to "the people." Because of this, I am not in favor of having elected positions become appointed ones.
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? Please explain.
A: To pay for infrastructure demands due to truck traffic, Kane County should consider impact fees on businesses generating a high volume of heavy trucks. I do not support a moratorium on warehouses as they provide jobs for our residents and lessen the burden on taxpayers; however, nearby residents' concerns must be seriously considered during the planning process.
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: Unfortunately, government entities often fail to keep up with building maintenance needs, which is critical to holding the line on taxes long-term. So I strongly support conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the county's future capital expenditures. This evaluation must include the both the short- and long-term consequences on taxpayers.
I would also work with state and federal lawmakers to ensure Kane County gets its fair share of capital funds.
Q: How do you think the county should spend the remaining COVID-19 relief funds?
A: County officials should convene with area stakeholders to assess our county's needs before deciding how these funds should be spent.
Q: The COVID pandemic also put a spotlight on the need for mental health services. What role should the county play in this?
A: Thanks to the previously mentioned COVID-19 relief funds, Kane County expanded its operations for mental health services. These services continue to be in high demand, so the county should continue these services for the foreseeable future.