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Consolidated Election 2015 results

in April 7, 2015/Elburn/Kaneland/Sugar Grove by

The public has spoken. The 2015 Consolidated Election featured contested races for Kaneland School Board, Elburn and Kaneville village boards, Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District and Waubonsee Community College Board. Election Day Tuesday produced some surprises, a few landslides and, ultimately, new trustee faces for Kaneland, Elburn and Kaneville.

Blackberry Township
Road District Limiting
Rate Increase
Yes – 641
No – 864

Kaneville Village Board (pick 3)
David Kovach – 75
Paul Ross – 36
Myra Ottoson – 41
Delbert Ward – 77
Howard Christopher – 49

Kaneland School Board (pick 4)
Tony Valente – 751
Dan Nagel – 900
Jerry Elliott – 789
Peter Lopatin – 918
Teresa Witt – 1,187
Ryan Kerry – 905
Gale Pavlak – 1,156

Pamela Voorhees – 889

Elburn and Countryside Fire
Protection District trustee (pick 1)
Thomas F. Reynolds – 1,090
Joel Rissman – 799

Waubonsee Community
College Board trustee (pick 2)
Rebecca Oliver – 12,854
Patrick Kelsey – 9,517

Emmett Bonfield – 6,293
Jimmie Delgado – 7,085

Elburn Village Board (pick 3)
William C. Grabarek – 395
David J. Gualdoni – 344
John D. Krukoff – 373

Michael J. Rullman – 248

Election: April 7 Kaneland School Board ballot change

in April 7, 2015/Kaneland by

KANELAND—There has been a slight change to the order the candidates for the Kaneland School Board will appear from Voter Infotmation Guide that was included in the Elburn Herald’s March 12 edition.
The ballot printed in the Voter Information Guide was a sample ballot, and a new ballot will sort the candidates by township rather than by a draw.
The new order will be as follows:

Election: Kaneland School Board

in April 7, 2015/Kaneland by

Eight candidates will vie for four open Kaneland School Board trustee seats on the April 7 Consolidated Election ballot.

Jerry Elliott
Jerry Elliott is one of four non-incumbent candidates seeking a seat on the Kaneland School Board on the April 7 Consolidated Election ballot.

Elliott believes his business experience provides insight into school business transactions and financial transparency to serve the public’s investment into the education system while seeking the highest delivery quality for Kaneland children.

Elliott served as factory superintendent for Caterpillar Inc. in Aurora from 1966 until 2000, and as vice president for Cascade Manufacturing Co. in Yorkville from 2001 to 2004. Since 2008, Elliott has served as Sugar Grove Water Authority Board trustee and treasurer, with duties including all financial transactions, budget, levy and financial reports.

“I will bring sharp questions, innovative ideas, and fresh energy to (the Kaneland) board, with new eyes and an opportunity to share my perspective with my fellow board members,” Elliott said. “I will follow established routines, board policies, state laws and effective protocols in the establishment of lasting change. I want to be the most possible advocate for our community’s education vision and values while, as a board, acting together with dignity, fairness and teamwork.”

Elliott said he would like to offer his services as trustee to represent the needs and desires of the community for educational excellence at Kaneland School District while establishing a financial balance that offers district property owners tax containment.

“I have the available time and energy to provide my service as the need may dictate,” Elliott said. “I will blend my priorities, as well as the priorities of people I am serving, into the communications I offer my fellow board members. We as a unified board can cohesively establish common policies serving our legislative, administrative and judicial areas of responsibility for the Kaneland School District.”

Elliott’s priorities as a prospective School Board trustee include tax containment; limiting manpower spending increases to no more than CPI; ensuring open bidding of contracts; and refunding of existing bond debt to lower the interest rate.

Elliott also believes Kaneland’s K-5 grade test scores need significant improvement and wants to increase instruction minutes for Individual Education Plan execution and stronger programs, as well as homework for writing skills.

Elliott’s final priority is to develop an effective school board.

“(I want to) participate in professional development and commit the time and energy necessary to be informed and effective leaders,” Elliott said. “(I want to) be understanding of Kaneland’s vision, goals and policies pertaining to the educational environment in our community, with knowledge of the aspirations and expectations of students, parents and taxpayers.”

Elliott said he intends to be aware of his position as a team member of this board, and will do his best to help fellow board members inclusive of him to function as a whole unified assembly representing the Kaneland School District.

Ryan Kerry
Ryan Kerry is one of four non-incumbent candidates in pursuit of a seat on the Kaneland School Board this spring.

He said he sees board trustees as a group that works with the administration to set long-term goals and plans, both financially and academically.

“I have served on the Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) for the last year and a half, and I think that the board could do a better job of managing the financial aspects of the district,” Kerry said. “Also, the board does not seem to function well as a group. These reasons have led me to run for the board.”

Kerry believes his education and experience make him a good candidate for trustee.
“I have worked in the business field for most of my career and understand how important financial management is to an organization,” he said. “I have also served on two different statewide boards that have given me experience working on a board.”

Kerry’s priorities as a prospective trustee include: reducing the district’s expenses by refinancing the 2008 bond issue; increasing district test scores by working with administration to set higher goals for the district; publically bidding all contracts over $15,000.

“I plan to work with the other board members and the administration to meet these goals,” Kerry said. “It’s the board working together that will improve the district.”

Peter Lopatin
Peter Lopatin was appointed to the role of Kaneland School Board trustee in 2013.

Two years later, he’s one of eight candidates vying for four open seats on the School Board.

In addition to his current role as a member of the Kaneland School Board, Lopatin said he has had the privilege of serving on the boards of a clinic for the uninsured (as president, treasurer, member), Sugar Grove Friends of the Library, and most recently on the Kaneland Arts Initiative, where he currently serves as treasurer.

Lopatin said school board members have a responsibility to serve as an advocate for the community interest, and that is to ensure that the district administration is thoughtful in its recommendations regarding the education of youth, efficient in its use of resources and transparent in its actions.

“As a school board member, it is critical that a balance be maintained among these interests, and that the district superintendent be able to provide real leadership in all these areas,” Lopatin said.

Lopatin said he applied for a vacancy on the Kaneland School Board in 2013 because he believed that the board needed to become more effective, more strategic and more thoughtful in its deliberations—and that his skills and passions would bring those abilities to the district.

“I have demonstrated my ability to quickly master the complex issues facing the district,” Lopatin said. “I bring reasoned and thoughtful consideration into each meeting, I treat district staff with respect, and I challenge simple assumptions, whether from staff or my fellow board members.”

Priorities Lopatin wants to see addressed by the School Board include the successful onboarding of Kaneland’s recently-appointed superintendent, Dr. Todd Leden.

“I think it is critical for the board to develop an open and positive working relationship with Dr. Leden, and to work collaboratively in the development of a clear vision for District 302,” Lopatin said. “I believe that my skills at strategic planning, facilitation and collaboration will enhance our district’s ability to complete this in an effective and efficient manner.”

Lopatin also wants to see contingency planning and preparation for financial challenges forced on the district through state action (or inaction).

“Inadequate funding for public education, coupled with the potential shifting of costs to local districts, is a real concern in the near- and long-term,” Lopatin said. “My role as a board member is to ensure that district staff fully understands the implications, presents realistic recommendations, and functions with transparency so that the board can carry out its responsibilities.

Lopatin’s final priority involves successful negotiation of labor contracts with the KEA and SPEAK.

“The district needs to address how to make Kaneland an attractive choice for qualified instructors, and a destination district that retains the best. This is what our students deserve,” Lopatin said. “Establishing contracts that are fair and sustainable is a critical issue. My participation in this process will keep students, staff and taxpayer needs in balance.”

Lopatin believes he has demonstrated his abilities as a forceful communicator and questioner on the board.

“I ask the big questions and expect accountability from district staff,” he said. “I seek consensus, but I am not afraid of confrontation when it serves the needs of the community.”

Dan Nagel
Dan Nagel is one of four non-incumbent candidates for Kaneland School Board trustee. He said he has the time and expertise to dedicate himself to investigation of board issues, and believes his extensive business experience is an asset in knowing where to look for the answers and execute a plan.

“As a board member, you have a fiduciary responsibility for the education of taxpayer’s children and for cost effectiveness for the taxpayer themselves, since they finance 92 percent of the total District 302 budget,” Nagel said.

Nagel has served on numerous public boards in Kane County, and was Sugar Grove Township supervisor from 2004 to 2012. He is a founder of Hope & Promise for Boots and Hooves, a not-for-profit that provides equine therapy for veterans, and currently serves on its board. He has also been an active participant with the Kaneland Financial Advisory Committee the past three and a half years.

Nagel’s goals as School Board trustee include providing and fostering a safe learning environment, and setting and obtaining reasonable goals for improvement in the education of the taxpayers’ children. He said he also wants to see transparency throughout the school system, including open bidding on any contract over $10,000; errors and omissions insurance for general contractors, architects, accountants and lawyers; and release all results in a universal format to the taxpayer.

Nagel also said he wants to Implement financial stabilization of the Kaneland budget to rightfully effect the real estate market and values (EAV) in the School District.

To achieve his goals as a trustee, Nagel intends to implement social/emotional learning standards and anti-bullying programs according to Illinois statutes and mandates, and believes this will facilitate change and bring about a safe educational environment and increase student performance.

Nagel said he wants to implement performance timetables to measure progress of goals, set by the board, for superintendents, staff and teachers.

Nagel’s additional goals include: financial compliance with GASB guidelines; reduction of interest rates on bond issues; institution of an open-bidding process and nepotism policy; and publishing district organizational chart for all employees on a monthly basis. He also wants to help School Board trustees operate with a keen awareness and anticipation on how educational and financial matters impact the short- and long-term stabilization of District 302.

“Due to District 302’s previous pension liability, starting in 2016 we must include a $2,650,000 pension liability payment in our existing budget each year for the next 40 years,” Nagel said.

Nagel said he has been a supporter and strong voice in the community since 1961, namely as a proud father of three children—all graduates of the Kaneland School system—a devout husband, business owner of various companies, and as a concerned citizen.

“Being elected as a District 302 Board member means taking an active role in collaborating with taxpayers/parents/guardians, teachers, administrators and villages, and serving as the best advocates for our children’s rights, education and the community at large,” he said.

Gale Pavlak
Kaneland School Board incumbent trustee candidate Gale Pavlak ran for the position in 2010, and common sense on the board was the one thing she felt was most important.

Not only does she still feel that way—she believes it’s now more true than before.

Pavlak has 40 years of experience in the human resources field. In addition to being a member of St. Gall Catholic Church in Elburn, Pavlak is involved in teaching there, serves on the church’s Building Committee and ushers and greets at selected services.

Pavlak believes that the School Board is meeting its responsibilities when it clarifies the district’s purpose by adopting goals and policies that reflect its community values, as well as state requirements. She said the board insures that the superintendent and staff work in alignment with those community needs and values.

“The board is in a position to monitor district performance and to gauge progress toward meeting district goals and compliance with district policies,” Pavlak said. “The board must provide for the financial and human resources necessary for the desired aim and goals, and insure the wise use of those resources.”

The Kaneland School District educated two of Pavlak’s children. As someone who believes in paying it forward, she believes the best way she can do so is to insure that the sons and daughters coming through this district have the best education possible within the resources available.

“Working to provide the best education possible for our children within the budget constraints that we are experiencing in the state of Illinois—and in this general economic climate—takes a strong commitment. I have proven that commitment,” Pavlak said. “I value the service of Kaneland candidates and would hope that they bring some level of knowledge and familiarity with our district issues. At the same time, I would hope that they would not be driven by crusading for a certain vendetta or have an ax to grind. Those kinds of personal agendas do not serve the community very well, and are counterproductive to School Board governance.”

Pavlak is seeking re-election because of her strong desire to serve children and the Kaneland district. She said her 40 years of employment in the human resources field taught her the importance of education, along with the standards set by her own parents. She believes education changes with the needs of industry requirements and technology, and she remains current with what those needs are.

“I’ve witnessed how these needs impact the lives of our children going forward, and understand the importance of good public education,” Pavlak said. “As I would expect continued professional development from our Kaneland teachers, I have participated in yearly board training and professional development to become a better board member. I have shown the willingness to spend the time required to become well-informed, and to do the homework needed to take part effectively in the board and committee meetings.

“I have been a good board member in that I have tried to work as a member of a team, including having an open mind and an ability to engage in productive, respectful discussions,” she said.

Should Pavlak achieve re-election, her priorities on the board will include creating a fair, supportive culture for Kaneland’s recently appointed superintendent, Dr. Todd Leden, so that he can be effective and accountable in meeting the district’s goals.

“Our relationship with him must consist of mutual respect and a clear understanding of respective expectations,” Pavlak said. “In order to do this, the Board of Education must take full responsibility for its behavior and its activity—the work it chooses to do and how it chooses to do it. Let us not run anyone else away from Kaneland.”

Pavlak said she wants to come to a fair and reasonable agreement with both collective bargaining units in the School District.

”The negotiations process to be used is an “interest-based” approach in which both sides find common ground,” she said.

Pavlak also wants to update the district’s strategic plan to provide the vision and goals necessary to meet the district’s mission, and continue to provide the education that children need to be successful in college, career and community.

“With the possibility of a new board being seated in a few months, I would hope that there is a concerted effort made up to that point, and then afterward, that the needs and education of our children are at the top of the list. There is nothing more important,” she said. “It is a serious responsibility to serve on the School Board, and I pledge to be conscientious in meeting that responsibility. I am committed to transparency and looking out for the best interests of all of our students and citizens.”

Tony Valente
Kaneland School Board incumbent trustee candidate Tony Valente has 21 years of experience in the field of education—15 as an administrator; six as a teacher.

In addition to his four years as School Board trustee, Valente has also served as a Sugar Grove Park District coach and chair of the Kaneland Discipline Committee.

Valente believes the role of board trustee is to ensure a quality education for students while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.

“School board members are responsible for developing policy that fosters positive social/emotional development of the students and creates a strong educational environment,” Valente said. “I feel that with my experience in the field of education, we can work collaboratively to improve academic achievement for our students while controlling spending.”

Valente feels he possesses the experience in the field of education to ask the critical questions that are necessary to create accountability.

“I also have the experience to review programs for effectiveness to ensure that the district is fiscally responsible,” he said.

Should he achieve re-election, Valente’s priorities on the board will include improving academic achievement, involving a three-step process to ensure academic growth in the Kaneland district.

“First and foremost, we would need a clear alignment of our curriculum to the Common Core standards,” Valente said. “Secondly, we would need to create an instructional framework that would allow each teacher to grow professionally in the area of instruction. And lastly, we would need to create intervention/enrichment programs for students who have fallen behind or need acceleration through an RTI model.”

Valente also wants to stop what he calls Kaneland’s “tax to the max” mentality, and believes the board as a whole needs to start questioning all expenditures and demand data to prove each program’s effectiveness.

“Spending money on programs and on areas that are not best practices has been problematic in the past, and that type of reckless spending has caused the levy to increase over the past eight years,” Valente said.

Valente’s final priority includes the creation of safety programs for students in the area of bullying.

“We need to foster an environment where student’s social/emotional development is a priority,” Valente said. “We need to develop intervention programs for students pre-K through 12 in the area of bullying prevention and social/emotional development. Best practices would dictate what programs are the most effective for our School District.”

Regarding how Valente plans to achieve his goals, he said the key element is the collaboration among the board, and with school administration, toward a common goal.

“We must create a common vision that will allow this group of individuals to clearly review administrative proposals using data and best practices in the area of education,” he said.

Pamela Voorhees
Pamela Voorhees will seek one of the Kaneland School Board’s four open trustee seats on the April 7 Consolidated Election ballot.

Voorhees has more than 30 years experience in financial and business leadership, mainly in manufacturing, as well as two years of school business experience at a larger Fox Valley district.

She considers the role of trustee as a liaison between the public and the school administration for the development, refinement and execution of fair policies that will benefit the academic development of students; someone to review and approve prudent and efficient sources of revenue/funding while practicing fiscal responsibility in spending.

“(I seek the position of trustee because my) desire is to use my business experience toward the betterment of the community,” Voorhees said. (My strengths include) training, experience, energy and available time. I am an empty nester of grown children who attended Kaneland.”

Should the public vote Voorhees into the role of School Board trustee, her priorities will include helping develop a cohesive team to facilitate the advancement of the district, and working together with the public toward the approved strategic goals.

Voorhees also wants to improve on community communications “so that the utmost transparency of activities is at the public’s fingertips,” and regain trust in the elected board’s execution of fiscal responsibilities.

How to achieve said goals? For Voorhees, it’s simple.

“Listen, learn, formulate plans, communicate, get approval and execute plans,” she said.

Teresa Witt
Teresa Witt has served on the Kaneland School Board the past four years, and believes she has a proven record of providing student-focused leadership while working within budgetary constraints.

“I thoroughly research topics for discussion, and thoughtfully and respectfully question the district’s administration and staff before making decisions,” Witt said. “I treat other board members with respect, and listen carefully to the needs of all stakeholder groups. I am not a single-issue candidate.”

Witt is currently employed in the library at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and has seven years of experience in computer leasing and marketing, and 11 years in libraries, including public, academic and special.

Witt said it is the role of every school board member to assist in clarifying the district’s purpose, and to work cooperatively and collaboratively with other board members and all stakeholder groups to monitor progress in fulfilling that purpose.

“Board members must be respectful of the opinions of other members, and recognize when it is important for the board to speak with one voice,” Witt said. “Board members should not seek to micro-manage, but to delegate authority to the superintendent to create processes and procedures to fulfill board policy.”

As a candidate for Kaneland School Board, Witt feels she has a strong commitment to public education and a desire to see the district provide the best education possible to students.

“In my four years serving on the Kaneland School Board, we have made progress in many areas, but there is still work to be done,” Witt said. “I am seeking re-election in order to continue to serve the Kaneland community, and to work toward greater educational advancement.”

Should Witt achieve re-election, her priorities as a trustee include continuing to pursue cost neutral or low-cost enhancement of programs and services for students, including STEM opportunities, additional AP classes and experiential learning choices, and services addressing social emotional needs through collaboration with curriculum directors, administrators and classroom teachers.

Witt also wants to Implement standardization of processes and procedures for operations of the district by encouraging the superintendent to develop a district procedure manual.

“Procedures for consistency in communications are especially needed,” Witt said.

Witt’s third goal as board trustee is to retain competent teachers through fair negotiation of a new contract that meets the needs of employees while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

As only one of seven members of the board of education, Witt believes it’s important to collaborate with other members to refine, enhance and implement ideas so that, through open and respectful dialog, the best course of action for the district can be set, she said.

“It is of utmost importance to provide for the educational needs of students while also protecting the current and future financial health of the district,” Witt said. ”In doing so, it is vital to maintain a broad focu, and not pursue a singular goal above all others. Communities with strong school systems see many rewards, including higher home values, a strong employment base and students who are active and engaged. We must not lose sight of the fact that we are educating the next generation of leaders.

“As a School Board member, my purpose has always been to make student focused decisions while maintaining fiscal responsibility.”

Election: Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees

in April 7, 2015/Regional/Sugar Grove by

Four candidates on April 7 will vie for two seats on the Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees.

Emmett Bonfield
When it comes to defining the role of trustee, Waubonsee Community College (WCC) Board candidate Emmett Bonfield keeps it short and to the point.

“(It’s about) caring for and improving a very important asset to the community,” he said.

Bonfield also has first-hand experience when it comes to WCC.

“I was a student at Waubonsee, and think my business and life experience could be of value,” he said. “I’ve owned several different businesses—one I started in my garage and made successful, and another I started from the kitchen table and also made successful,” Bonfield said. “I worked in a foreign country with a business partner whom I had been friends with since fourth grade, and I am still friends with them.”

Bonfield believes he is an ideal candidate because the current trustees at Waubonsee “have been there for a very long time.”

“(It’s) time for a fresh set of eyes to look for improvements and possible new ways of handling changes,” Bonfield said. “I believe in term limits, and new people are needed for fresh ideas and new perspective.”

Bonfield’s priorities as a board member would include improving the school’s graduation rate and graduate employment rate; potentially reducing tuition rate or at least stopping any increases; and introducing basic trades courses such as carpentry, plumbing and electrical, and classes needed for new technologies.

Bonfield also said he plans on involving the business community to ascertain their need for employees, and speaking with high school students to find out what type of classes would prompt them to attend Waubonsee. He wants incentives for graduation, including tuition rebates, and possible jobs for students after they complete classes that make them an ideal candidate for specific businesses.

Additional to-do items for Bonfield include contacting and speaking with other community colleges with better graduation rates and graduate employment opportunities, and looking at the things those schools are doing that WCC could possibly adopt to help improve its overall performance.

Jimmie Delgado
Waubonsee Community College Board candidate Jimmie Delgado knows a thing or two about the school, as he’s a former student interested in bringing his insight and ideas to the college’s board of trustees.

“I treasured my time as a student at Waubonsee Community College,” Delgado said. “It is a great place to make connections, figure out one’s future and learn new things in a safe environment. I want to make sure that all current and future residents have the college as a resource for generations to come.”

Delgado defines the role of trustee as collaborative leadership of Waubonsee Community College staff, students, and District 516 residents to provide the best quality education experience in the most efficient manner.

“I think my unique experience as a student trustee during the referendum in 2003 gives me valuable insight that can benefit the board, students and district residents,” Delgado said. “It was an honor to be a part of the 2020 Master Plan in the early years. It would be a great privilege for me to be a part of the next Master Plan for the College.”

Priorities Delgado would like to see addressed include assisting the transition of transfer students into their baccalaureate programs.

“To do this, I plan to ensure that the college is providing the best possible resources to students transferring into four-year programs,” he said.

Delgado also wants to maximize job opportunities for those attending Waubonsee Community College.

“By partnering with employers to prepare candidates to be competitive in available job opportunities, we can create a win-win environment,” he said.

Delgado also has the school’s next Master Plan in mind.

“Working closely with those who were instrumental in making the 2020 master plan a success will be key to ensuring the next master plan is effective and sustainable,” he said.

Delgado plans to achieve his goals by working with the board, college staff and community.

“Through diligent work and constructive feedback, I believe I can meet my goals and help the college continue to excel,” he said.

Rebecca Oliver
Rebecca Oliver has served as Waubonsee Community College Board trustee the past 18 years, and will seek re-election to the position on the April 7 Consolidated Election ballot.

Oliver defines the role of WCC Board trustee as a volunteer position of governance whereby members form, oversee and direct the policies of the college.

“I have served on the board of trustees since 1997, and currently serve as vice chair of the board,” Oliver said. “I would like to continue to serve on the board to carry on the work of maintaining the level of excellence and performance that we have been able to provide our college district.”

Oliver and her husband have owned their own business in the district for the past 40 years. Oliver said they have always been committed to serving their communities by supporting local school districts and civic causes.

“This has also included serving on various boards throughout the communities,” she said.

Oliver said she has been committed to the college, its students and its culture since she was first elected to the board.

“I have spent the past 18 years working diligently to bring new facilities, new opportunities and services to our district students,” she said. “Prior to being seated on the Board of Trustees, I served as a director and officer on the Waubonsee Community College Foundation Board from 1989 to 1997. That allowed me an insight into the college community that has been very valuable as a trustee. As a trustee, I continue my work as board liaison to the foundation. I serve as trustee with focus and commitment, and will continue to do so if re-elected.”

Oliver said it is vitally important to keep WCC’s programs and facilities relevant and competitive in the arena of higher education. The board continually evaluates its current curricula and enrollments to ensure that its offerings adequately serve transfer students and those in a certificate training or workforce development path.

“WCC is always striving to be a leader in the field of higher education, and I cannot see that priority changing as I serve in my role,” Oliver said. “As a trustee, we clearly understand that our work can and does positively change the quality of life and the career path of our district students.”

Oliver said she is thrilled that WCC President Dr. Christine Sobek has publicly recognized the importance of community colleges in the education and advancement of large demographics within the nation.

“Being able to offer two years of free community college to responsible students would be a direct hit on the target mission of WCC, but we must be sure that such a program is fiscally responsible and sustainable,” Oliver said. “We must navigate between our fiscal responsibility to our taxpayers and bringing relevant programs and classes to those in our district who need us most. If there is a way for the state and federal government to support and contribute to this program, I know that WCC would be pleased to offer such an opportunity to our district students.”

Oliver said WCC must navigate and anticipate the state pension reform for SURS (State Universities Retirement Program) and the Teacher Retirement System without major adverse effect to its budgets and long-term financial plans.

“The current state system is unsustainable and fiscally exhausted, and we monitor it closely as the legislative plans for reform unfold. For the state to pass on another unfunded mandate to our local institutions would be a major game changer for the local taxpayers that had no say in the creation of this deficit,” Oliver said. “Our district taxpayers cannot afford to shoulder that obligation because of a state mandate that may pass this obligation for pension funding down to the local level, when it was caused by mismanagement and non-payment by the state of Illinois for many years. This has left Illinois in a serious financial predicament that could potentially compromise the financial solvency of many in the community college system.”

Oliver feels that the board has done a good job of furthering WCC’s educational goals and services with solvency and consistency, and believes the board is continually looking into its policies and procedures to ensure that it is functioning at the highest level of performance—always keeping in the forefront of its decisions that it has been entrusted as stewards of taxpayer’s dollars.

“(If re-elected, I will) do my part to continue to keep our board policies and practices proactive and preemptive regarding the fiscal and educational decisions we are required to make,” Oliver said.

WCC Board candidate Patrick Kelsey did not respond to the Elburn Herald’s 2015 Consolidated Election questionnaire.

Election: Elburn Village Board

in April 7, 2015/Elburn by

Four trustees will compete for three open Elburn Village Board seats on the Tuesday, April 7, Consolidated Election ballot.

William Grabarek
William Grabarek sees the role of board trustee as someone who holds a fiduciary duty to residents. As a fiduciary, one must exercise the highest degree of care in fulfilling their responsibility to residents. And that responsibility, in the broadest sense, is to provide for residents’ health, safety and welfare.

“We fulfill our own responsibility when our drinking water is safe and our wastewater management system is functioning consistent with state and federal requirements, our streets and other infrastructure are well maintained and safe, and when we have adequate policing to deter crime and maintain the public peace,” Grabarek said. “It sounds simple enough, but the devil is in the details, and the details are in the establishment, consistent application and continued monitoring of those ordinances, resolutions and such other policies necessary to provide for our residents’ health, safety and welfare. And, at the same time, provide these services within our budget and not allow our expenses to run faster than our revenue streams.

“A board trustee is a caretaker for, and a servant of, the public good.”

It is Grabarek’s desire to be of service to Elburn residents and to continue to make positive contributions toward preserving and enhancing the high quality of village life. It is also his desire to continue to work for the village’s common benefit using the skills and perspectives he gained during his years on the Elburn Planning Commission, as a village trustee and as a lawyer.

“(That is) to confirm that experience matters in our local elections. In part, it is because I very much enjoy confronting and cooperatively addressing the village’s intellectual and financial challenges,” Grabarek said. “In part, it is to express my gratitude to our residents for their past support of my judgment and governing ability. And, in part, it is my thanks and renewed offer of my skills and time to the village I love and which has been my home for almost 37 years.”

As far as Grabarek knows, Elburn has been his home longer than the other village trustee candidates, collectively, have lived there. As such, Grabarek brings a deeper perspective of the history and rhythm of village life and how it has managed its growth. He’s also the sole lawyer on the current board, and the only lawyer candidate in the April 7 election.

“As a lawyer, I am anxious to continue offering whatever special skills I have for our village’s benefit,” he said.

Should Grabarek successfully achieve re-election, his goals as trustee will include resolving the police pension issue by looking for possible resolutions both inside and outside the proverbial box.

“Until we fully review our options and the impact each may have on our public safety, we should not fixate solely on a ‘pay from general funds or disband’ solution, but explore other possible revenue sources and funding opportunities, at least for meeting our pension obligations in the near term,” he said. “Regardless, all possible aspects of any proposed resolution must be thoroughly scrutinized and shared with the public before it is voted on by the board.”

Grabarek also wants help to initiate the preliminary engineering plans for the pedway/bikeway bridge over the Union Pacific tracks. He said that, without such access, Elburn risks splitting into a north village and south village.

“We would need to get some rough estimates from our engineers so we could budget for this and discuss sharing some of the cost with Shodeen, as well as seeking available grants,” Grabarek said.

An additional goal of Grabarek’s is to institute paperless water and sewer bills so as to reduce or eliminate the monthly cost of an outside contractor to print and mail them to the village’s 2,070 water/sewer accounts.

“Using this email and online payment technology, we also could readily notify our residents of boil orders, neighborhood line work and other news and warnings, including emergency matters, by email,” Grabarek said. “This likely would require purchasing new or amended software.”

Grabarek said he loves Elburn—a love affair that began on July 3,1978, when his family moved into the old Simpson house on east Nebraska Street. Before he knew it, his family was absorbed into the rhythms of life in Elburn.

“Then, one day in 1993, our mayor saw me on Main Street and asked if I would like to be on the Planning Commission. ‘Sure. Why not?’ I said, because I realized that we all had better protect this village that we love. And I have been trying to do just that since 1993.

“So if you love Elburn—and I know you do—and you believe that experience matters, then I ask for your support on April 7.”

David Gualdoni
Elburn Village Board trustee David Gualdoni has worked for the city of Geneva the past 13 years. Prior to that, he was employed by the village of Elburn for 11 years before becoming a current Village Board trustee.

Gualdoni said the position that he was elected for—the one he seeks in re-election—is one of great responsibility. He is there to represent the people of Elburn and to make sure that the board offers the best services for the revenue it brings into the village.

“I think that being fiscally responsible is important, but offering quality services is the real reason we are here,” Gualdoni said. “Sometimes, when you get caught up in the numbers, the services are compromised, (and that) can be costly for the taxpayer further down the road.”

When Gualdoni was initially elected to the Elburn Village Board, he had goals and objectives that he saw the village was deficient in.

“Some of these (goals) still remain, and I would like to see these corrected,” he said. “I would say that communication is the biggest (goal), as staff seems to think that status quo is OK.”

Gualdoni believes that if you get elected, you do the best you can and listen to the people that elected you.

“You need to remember that you are the voice of the people that elected you,” he said.

Should he achieve re-election, Gualdoni said he would like to see Elburn’s downtown reborn, as the village recently received a grant to update the downtown sidewalks, light and some infrastructure.

“This will be important as the town grows to maintain it identity,” he said.

Gualdoni also wants to see Elburn get an emergency operations plan.

“The village is not getting any smaller, and with the increase in population and frequency of the unknown passing through our town, it will be important—not only for response, but recovery—if something were to happen,” he said. “This plan would be for everyone from the volunteers to the mayor and the Village Board.”

Gualdoni would like to get more public input on projects, and believes it can be done by hosting open houses.

“I also think that communication could be improved, as staff does not communicate effectively with the board or the public,” he said.

John Krukoff
Elburn Village Board candidate John Krukoff sees the role of village trustee as an elected representative of the local residents who manages the village’s property, finances, safety and health, and also provides for the comfort and general welfare of the village.

“In Elburn, the most difficult roles for the future trustees are in budgeting limited resources among many necessary and competing desires while trying to encourage managed growth that will not have a negative influence on the small-community lifestyle that we all moved here for,” Krukoff said.

Krukoff has been a village resident for 10 years and an Elburn Plan Commissioner for the past five years. He said he is very involved in the community and has a sincere interest in making it a better place for residents and their children.

Krukoff said he believes he possesses a unique set of qualifications that will be of great value in solving the many problems the village will face in the future. He has a degree in public administration, has worked with local governmental bodies, and has many years of business experience that will help him solve problems efficiently and effectively.

He also believes there is a lack of communication in both directions—village and residents—and said it will be his mission to find better ways of communicating issues to the public while increasing public input and participation in village decisions.

As a prospective trustee, Krukoff’s goals include making every effort to capitalize on the new development at Elburn Station to attract industrial, commercial and retail projects to town.

“It is a priority to expand the tax base in order to keep property taxes at a minimum,” he said. “To achieve this, we have to apply the principles of smart growth and resist the temptation to raise taxes and increase regulations.

“(We need) some small incentives to help emerging small-business owners to locate in the established part of town: it would help everyone by increasing foot traffic and tax revenue,” he said. “(I) would make sure the Elburn Station development is carried forward in a way that benefits the village and its residents, as well as the developer. I want to ensure that this new growth does not negatively impact the current residents, existing businesses or small-town flavor that we all now enjoy.”

Krukoff would also like to encourage more and better communications between the Village Board and the residents of the community.

“The current uproar about eliminating our police force is a good example. Most residents, and even some of the board, were surprised upon learning about discussions with the Kane County Sheriff,” he said. “The issues around funding for the Police Department, and the idea of looking at options, should have been advertised and discussed at public meetings. A local police department that is involved with the community is essential, and though there may be funding issues, the community should be part of the decision.”

Last, Krukoff would seek to ensure that the village has adequate plans for maintaining, replacing and financing its aging infrastructure.

“I do not want our village residents surprised by any unanticipated sewer, water or road costs in the foreseeable future,” he said. “This is also extremely important for any commercial growth. New business will not move here if the village infrastructure will not support their needs. In this area, I would encourage seeking governmental grants and loans to assist with major capital improvements. I would also work closely with the state, county and the township to achieve these goals. The future growth and even survival of current businesses along Route 47 will largely depend on providing adequate utilities, especially toward solving the water issues west of Route 47.

Krukoff said he strongly believes in creating inter-agency agreements that will help everyone by sharing existing expertise and equipment to reduce individual costs.

“In this area, we have so many independent taxing districts with similar or overlapping jurisdictions that it can only help to serve our local taxpayers by coordinating and sharing existing resources,” he said. “I am basically a fiscal conservative, and would like to see all other options exhausted before seeking any kind of a tax increase. I believe that the eventual balance between village services and taxes should be presented, explained and given to the residents to decide.”

Krukoff believes he has a slightly different perspective on governing than most of the other village trustees.

“I have heard some say that they were elected to make the decisions and will not be swayed by polls or vocal minorities, and I strongly disagree with that viewpoint,” he said. “I believe we are elected to represent everyone in the village, including the vocal minority and the often silent majority. My philosophy is to actively solicit input from the entire community through surveys, social media, village meetings and group activities occurring within the village. I want to be their voice, not their parent.

“The current controversy concerning our village Police Department is a good example. There are pros and cons on both sides of the this issue, but it is up to the trustees to get out and contact the residents so that their input can be incorporated into providing the different alternatives for solving this problem.”

Michael Rullman
Michael Rullman, an Elburn Village Board candidate, sees the role of trustee as representing the public and ensuring that the monies collected from them are used responsibly, equitably and prudently.

“The board or any public group needs to change leadership and perspectives to ensure it doesn’t suffer from groupthink,” he said.”

Rullman spent many years working as a consultant, and said he is used to collecting input and applying it to develop options. Upon reaching a consensus regarding said options, he will then implement that information into a plan.

Should he be elected, Rullman’s goals will include improving communication on the Village Board.

“If the village won’t officially get more information out, I’ll do it privately,” he said.

Rullman also wants to make the village easier with which to do business, and more responsive to residents, as well.

His final goal is a simple one.

“(I want) to stop the village’s artificial surplus, caused by deferring maintenance and reducing staff, and instead have the village get back to serving the public’s needs before its own,” Rullman said.

Election: Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District trustee

in April 7, 2015/Elburn by

Two candidates on April 7 will vie for a trustee seat with the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District.

Thomas Reynolds
Thomas Reynolds defines a fire district as governed by fire trustees who are voted into office by the voters living within the district boundaries.

“The fire district is a government body created to provide fire protection,” he said. “As a fire trustee, we set policy for the district, manage and conduct the business affairs of the district, make and execute all necessary contracts, employ any necessary services, and perform all acts necessary to carry out the goals and mission of the Fire District.”

Reynolds is a strong believer in being involved in the community, whether it be part of a church group, volunteering for a local charity, helping others in need, or serving on the local school board and expressing the desires and needs of the taxpayers. His initial desire upon joining the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District (ECFPD) trustee in 2003 was to assist in developing the Fire District, help advance the services that the district provides and be a voice for the taxpayers.

As a current Fire District trustee, he’d like to continue in that role and follow through on the future plans for the district.

“I feel we have evolved over the years into an exceptional Fire District that is advanced in medical and fire services, as well as financially stable,” Reynolds said. “I will continue to listen to the taxpayers and not be afraid to speak up and fight for what’s in the best interest of the taxpayer and the Fire District.

Reynolds believes his educational background, volunteerism in the community and business experiences allow him to assess situations from a professional-, business- and community-minded perspective. As Fire District trustee, he and the board are responsible for overseeing the expenses associated with the Fire District and making sure the district is fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars.

“My goal as a trustee is to manage the district funds in the best interest of the taxpayers while maintaining a fire district with exceptional emergency medical services and fire services.

“As an ECFPD trustee for the past 11 years, the financial stability of the Fire District is something I am very proud of,” he said. “We continue to look into the future and plan accordingly. While not everything can be planned for, we strive to advance our services and personnel with continual training and the newest technology, EMS and fire suppression equipment and apparatus so we can provide the best service possible to the residents in our Fire District, as well as those individuals that pass through. We strive to achieve these goals at the same time as maintaining a tax rate that is affordable for the services we provide.”

Should he achieve re-election, one of Reynolds’ main goals for the Fire District will be to keep taxes in check.

“Since I became a Fire District trustee in 2003, I have made it very clear to the administration and other board members that the Fire District needs to provide the best service possible without increasing taxes, if possible,” he said. “We continue to adjust the annual budget to achieve that goal, all the while acquiring new equipment and personnel to meet the needs of the growing Fire District.”

Reynolds also wants to complete construction of the new headquarters station, which will house all administrative personnel, the Fire Prevention Bureau, special teams equipment, apparatus and a training facility.

“The Fire District has outgrown its current headquarters station (Station No. 1) in downtown Elburn,” Reynolds said. “One of the long-term goals for the district was to build a new headquarters station, as well as move the Fire Prevention Bureau into the headquarters station. Construction has begun, and the projected open date for the new headquarters station is fall 2015.”

Reynolds said the district is currently in the process of placing the current ECFPD Station No. 1 and old ambulance station on the real estate market. When the new headquarters opens, all the apparatus and equipment currently utilized at Station No. 1, as well as the trench rescue and water rescue equipment, uniforms/gear and training equipment that are currently stored in the old ambulance station, will be moved and accessible from one location. The Fire Prevention Bureau will be moved from Station No. 2 to the new headquarters station.

Reynolds’ final goal as trustee is to update the long-range plans for personnel, equipment, apparatus and property.

“With the continued growth of the Fire District, long-range plans need to be adjusted as deemed appropriate,” he said. “I will continue to work with the administration on staying ahead of the district’s needs. Based on today’s needs and the projected growth in our Fire District, we will plan for and maintain the appropriate fire suppression, emergency medical apparatus and equipment, as well as hire highly trained, professional personnel.”

Reynolds said he will continue to encourage the administration to look for ways to spend less while maintaining, if not increasing, its level of care and services.

“Over the years, the Fire District has applied for and received monies through numerous grants to hire new personnel and purchase new equipment. We will continue to seek grant funds to help offset expenses,” he said.

Reynolds said he will also continue to monitor expenses and watch district finances very closely.

“Our Fire District is financially sound, and I am proud to say we are currently building a new headquarters station, opened a new satellite station in October 2014 (Station No. 3 in Lily Lake) and obtained new apparatus and equipment without having to acquire bonds,” he said. “We are also actively working on land acquisition for future station sites in our Fire District. Long-range plans include adding additional stations as the call volume dictates, so acquiring land while it is affordable is a fiscally responsible approach for spending the taxpayers hard-earned money.”

Joel Rissman
Joel Rissman sees the role of an Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District (ECFPD) trustee as someone who works directly with the district for the taxpayers—a trustee who needs to be financially responsible and dedicated.

Rissman wants to make a difference, which is why he’ll vie for a seat on the ECFPD Board on April 7.

“I will work for the residents of the Fire Protection District to continue the level of service and strive for better,” he said. “As both a taxpayer and firefighter, I am able to bring ideas and possible resolutions to continue the success and the level of care that Elburn Fire is known for.”

Rissman has worked as a firefighter and paramedic at Fermi Lab in Batavia since 2012, and has served the same role in a part-time capacity for the ECFPD since 2008. Since becoming a firefighter/paramedic, Rissman has developed, a better understanding of what needs to be addressed within the Elburn Fire District.

“Elburn has always had a reputation for being an outstanding department, both in the Fire and EMS divisions,” he said. “As our district continues to be developed I want to be involved to make sure that the residents have the best staffing and equipment available to them at any hour.”

Rissman’s goals as Fire District trustee include continuing to work with the district on areas that will benefit residents: lower ISO ratings, quicker response times and the required staffing necessary to achieve said goals.

“With the future growth coming to our district, we need to continue to study the need for future stations and personnel to be able to provide the best service to the residents,” Rissman said. “Elburn is continuing to grow and develop. We have numerous schools and a senior living establishment that are located in the district. As a trustee, I will work for the residents to continue providing quality fire prevention and education.”

As a trustee, Rissman said he will work to make sure that the goals of the management and the labor union are to work together for the benefit of the residents.

He also said he will always be available to hear the concerns of the residents.

“As a trustee for the district, I will bring these concerns back to the district to work and find resolutions that will benefit the people in a responsible financial manner,” he said. “I was born and raised in Elburn, and I am looking forward to representing the residents to continue the level of dedication from the Fire Department that they deserve.”

Election: Kaneville Village Board trustee

in April 7, 2015/Kaneville by

Five candidates will compete for three open seats on the Kaneville Village Board Tuesday, April 7.

Paul Ross

Kaneville Village Board trustee Paul Ross will seek re-election on the April 7 Consolidated Election ballot, having served on the board since 2006. Ross views the role of village trustee as one that works to complement the community.

“Although many of the projects may seem small, for the community, they are another step in providing … leadership … from a local level,” he said.

Ross said seeking re-election for Kaneville’s village trustee position feels natural.

“Having been part of the original board in 2006 at the time of (village) incorporation, we have made many strides in addressing local issues, and we still have a few more to attend to,” he said. “It has been a pleasure being able to serve the community for the last nine years, and I look forward to being able to continue to serve as a voice in the community.

As a business owner in the community, Ross believes his business background affords him the outlook and know-how to forecast and budget for projects.

Should he achieve re-election, one of Ross’ goals is to focus on money that may be reduced in the new state budget.

“The village needs to begin to combine its voice with other communities,” he said. “Although the share (of funds) that the village receives from the state may not be a lot, it helps to fund the repair and replacement of the local streets, covers the cost of snow plowing in the winter, and has helped to provide our community with extra police patrols from the Kane County Sheriff’s Department.”

Ross also believes long-term planning must be a priority.

“The village needs to begin to lay the groundwork for expenditures five, 10 and even 15 years in advance,” he said. “We have approximately 2.7 miles of streets, of which some will need to be replaced within that timeframe. All we need to do is look to Long Grove, Ill., to see where we may be in the future without long-term planning and budgeting.”

Delbert Ward
Delbert Ward’s response to the question of why he wants to serve on the Kaneville Village Board is simple and to the point.

“I care about Kaneville,” he said.

Ward has made a living in the well and septic business, having been self-employed in the industry since 1971. His nickname, “Grampa Del,” is also the name of his business. And it’s a fitting title, as Ward has nine grandchildren.

He defines the role of village trustee as a chance to improve the village so every resident can benefit.

“I know our town needs more than what I can do in the well and septic business,” he said. “I need to be involved in how our town is run.”

As a prospective trustee, Ward’s main goal is as straightforward as the reason for his candidacy.

“We are a new town, and we do not have the money to achieve some of the things the town needs,” Ward said. “(By doing) a little at a time and (getting) more people involved, we can achieve our goals. Listen to the people, address their complaints and work hard to help them.”

Public service comes naturally to Ward, as he’s been in the business of helping people for over four decades.

“I have been in the water well industry for 44 years and still going strong,” he said. “I love helping people.”

Kaneville Village Board trustee candidates David Kovach, Myra Ottoson and Howard Christopher did not respond to the Elburn Herald’s 2015 Consolidated Election questionnaire.

Sugar Grove Meet the Candidates Night March 12

in Elections/Kaneland/Regional/Sugar Grove by
Early voting will take place from March 23 through April 5.

Election Day
is Tuesday, April 7.

Public asked to submit questions for candidates
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove’s Meet the Candidates Night will take place Thursday, March 12, in the meeting room of the Sugar Grove Public Library, 125 S. Municipal Drive, Sugar Grove. Doors will open at 6 p.m.; the event will begin at 6:30 p.m.

The event will be presented by the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Elburn Herald. Individuals seeking office as a village of Sugar Grove trustee, a board member of the Sugar Grove Public Library, a board member of the Kaneland School Board, a trustee of the Sugar Grove Fire District, a commissioner of the Sugar Grove Park District, and a trustee on the Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees, will all be invited to attend the event, and will have a chance to introduce themselves to members of the public in attendance.

Community members are asked to submit questions for use in a Q&A session with candidates during the event. To submit a question, contact Shari Baum at (630) 466-7895 or sbaum@sugargrovechamber.org. Questions will also be accepted at the door the night of the event.

Admission to the event is free. Community members will have an opportunity after the event to meet and speak with candidates. Candidates will be allowed to display and distribute political materials.

This event is being held prior to early voting so that everyone will have an opportunity to hear from candidates before casting a ballot. Early voting will take place from March 23 through April 5. Election Day is Tuesday, April 7.

With the interests of its members and community in mind, the chamber has hosted Meet the Candidates Night for over 22 years, and will welcome the Elburn Herald as a co-sponsor again this year.

For more information on the Meet the Candidates event, contact Shari Baum at (630) 466-7895.

Election: 50th District State Representative

in Nov. 4, 2014 by

Candidates Keith Wheeler (Republican) and Valerie Burd (Democrat) on Nov. 4 will vie for the seat of 50th District State Representative

Keith Wheeler
Keith Wheeler sees the role of 50th District Representative as the people’s representation in the General Assembly in Springfield.

“While the General Assembly is seen primarily in its role of making laws, a state representative is also a resource for constituents when it comes to state government issues, problems and concerns,” he said.

Wheeler on Nov. 4 will seek the 50th District Representative seat.

Wheeler currently owns Responsive Network Services, LLC., and serves as a Bristol Township trustee and Bristol 5 Republican Precinct committeeman. He’s also a past board chairman for Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, board chairman for Kendall County Food Pantry, Illinois Leadership Council chairman for National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), current board treasurer for Oswego Bears Youth Football and Cheer Pop Warner program, District 308 Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee member.

As a small business owner in Illinois, Wheeler said he has seen first-hand the damage that Springfield has done to the Illinois business community.

“Employers, jobs and families are leaving Illinois at a frightening pace. In my past role as board chairman of the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce and current board chairman of the Illinois Leadership Council for NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business), I hear from fellow business owners that Illinois is not competitive as we should be. Unemployment in Illinois is too high and is among the highest in the Midwest. We see it locally by the increase in the demand for food at local food pantries. I pay close attention to this in my role as the Kendall County Food Pantry board chairman. I am running to help create and support Illinois jobs for Illinois families—that’s actually the theme of my campaign.”

Twenty-three years as a small-business owner means that Wheeler signs the front of paychecks; not just the back. It also means he understands what job creators are dealing with in today’s business climate. He believes he has a pulse on the business community and has working relationships with the organizations that understand what needs to change in order to improve the business and hiring climate in Illinois.

And as a parent with young children, Wheeler’s eye is on the future.

“We need to make Illinois a state with an education system of which we are proud and that we can count on for preparing the next generation for success here in Illinois,” he said.

If elected, Wheeler’s priorities will include job creation, a focus on state spending and pension reform.

“While our state has been struggling to pay its bills and we suffered through a 67 percent increase in income taxes, the Democrats in Springfield increased state spending instead of paying off the outstanding bills,” Wheeler said. “This is the wrong approach to improving the balance sheet of the state of Illinois. We need to examine runaway Medicaid fraud and perform a forensic audit of state spending to root out waste, fraud, abuse and duplicative spending.

In regard to pension reform, Wheeler believes the only way to truly solve the pension mess would be to move to a defined contribution system so that payment to and on behalf of the employee will be complete at the same time the employee is working.

“For this reason, I will support massive expansion of the new defined-contribution program that was introduced in the recent pension bill,” he said.

An important step Wheeler would like to lead with is creation of a bipartisan Small Business Caucus to give the job-creating small business community in Illinois a louder voice in Springfield.

Wheeler created a plan called “Illinois Jobs for Illinois Families” in order to make the state “more competitive and give companies, entrepreneurs and hard-working citizens a reason to make Illinois their home.” The outline of Wheeler’s plan includes:
• Make Illinois a more affordable place to do business—stop the progressive income tax which would raise taxes on 85 percent of Illinois families
• Clean up the pension and bill payment mess in Springfield
• Perform a forensic audit to clear out waste, fraud, abuse and duplicative state spending
• Restore state funding promised to local school districts to keep our promise to our kids and prevent further increases in property taxes

Valerie Burd
Valerie Burd will compete for the 50th District Representative seat on Nov. 4.

Burd, a 25-year resident of Yorkville, served on the Yorkville City Council from 1998 to 2011, with nine years as Ward 2 alderman and four years as mayor. She’s currently on the Environmental Advisory Board for the Kendall County Health Department, a member of U.S. Senator Mark Kirk’s Woman’s Advisory Committee, and a member of the Board of the Illinois State Genealogical Society. She was recently appointed the Public Guardian and Public Administrator for Kendall County. She’s also a member of the Yorkville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Green Committee.

Burd defines the role of 50th District Representative as a two-way job.

“First, a representative needs to listen and be accessible and available for his or her constituents to help resolve issues,” she said. “Second, a representative needs to keep residents of the district informed on what is happening in Springfield—how it affects them. A state representative is one of 118 people filling that role in Springfield, so people running for this spot need to focus on working with people on both sides of the aisle if they want to get something done. Collaboration is the key.”

Burd said she was a long-time supporter of Kay Hatcher, who is the current 50th District Representative.

“When I learned she was retiring, I was concerned that her position might not be filled by someone like Kay— a pro-choice, socially moderate candidate,” Burd said. “When I was asked to run, I decided that I would go forward and give people that choice in the November election.”

Burd said her decision to run for office stems from her love of this country, its constitution and the political process. She said she hears many people saying negative things about politicians—wanting to kick them all out of office. But when she looks back on this country’s history and sees the leaders who have stepped forward when they were most needed to solve problems, she said she has to feel that God has blessed this country and its citizens many times. “There are many good people, Democrats and Republicans, working to solve the problems we are facing,” Burd said. “We need to support these people, not the ones who are trying to tear us part. This is our government, created by us, and we are responsible for it.

Burd believes she is the best candidate for 50th District Representative because, as a former alderman and mayor of Yorkville for 13 years, she understands the needs of local municipalities and the residents in the district. She said she had the opportunity to talk to many people, listen to their comments and try to help them solve their problems.

“I served on Metro West Council of Government and the Metropolitan Council of Mayors, where we studied many of the problems Springfield is still facing today—like how to better fund education and pension reform,” Burd said. “I also am the owner of a small business and have been very involved with the local chamber and was formerly on the board of the Yorkville Economic Development Commission. I am not driven by an ideology. I am used to working with people on both sides of the aisle to find solutions to problems.”

One of the administration accomplishments Burd is most proud of is the consortium created by Yorkville’s Plan Commission. Plan Commission members from Yorkville and adjacent municipalities worked together and helped each other with planning issues. According to Burd, this helped heal the distrust that had been created by a previous administration and plans to site a landfill in Yorkville.

If elected, Burd’s priorities as 50th District Representative include job growth, a fairer property tax system, and working to fix Illinois’ financial problems. In terms of job growth, Burd said she intends to support and encourage existing and new education programs that help retrain the workforce for jobs that are available now and in the near future. She also intends to support infrastructure improvements, work with local chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and local elected officials in their efforts to attract new businesses and help retain existing businesses. Her other listed priorities affect job growth, she said.

“Kane and Kendall counties have some of the highest property tax rates in the U.S.,” she said. “This hurts us when we are trying to attract businesses to our area. The property tax is inequitable—it hurts people on fixed incomes and those who have lost their jobs, and it is passed on to businesses in high rental costs. We can’t just promise to cut taxes, because the taxes are needed to fund schools, municipalities, libraries, park districts, etc. Encouraging taxing bodies to cut their costs is one way to go, but during the recession, many of these taxing bodies made deep cuts. The only option is to look for alternate ways to fund some of them.

Burd said Illinois’ financial crisis is discouraging businesses from coming to the state. According to one report she’s read, as much as 70 percent of Illinois taxpayers’ dollars goes to pay for pensions.

“This needs to continue to be addressed, but people receiving pensions need to be represented at the table for the discussion,” she said. “We need to cut waste from our budget, but we don’t need to spend money on any audits or litigation. We need to carefully review all budgets and all expenditures, and hold employees accountable. But we need to ensure that education and infrastructure and other necessary programs are funded. If it were easy, it would have been solved already.”

Burd and her husband, Paul, have five children, three of whom are currently on active duty. Valerie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism, with a minor in political science, from Northern Illinois University. She worked as a newspaper reporter, was managing editor of two weekly newspapers for the Naperville SUN, was a marketing director for a Batavia architectural firm, and worked in Waubonsee Community College’s Public Relations department. She currently owns Positive Media Solutions, Inc., a Yorkville marketing firm that does community guides, maps, advertising pieces and photography.

According to Burd, her campaign has received endorsements from the AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood and Personal Pac.

Kostelny to not proceed with re-count procedure

in March 18, 2014 by

KANE COUNTY—John Countryman, the attorney for Judge Marmarie Kostelny, recently announced that Kostelny has decided not to proceed further with the re-count procedures in a race to win a Kane County circuit judgeship in sub-circuit No. 3.

Countryman said that Illinois law provides for a discovery recount of 25 percent of the precincts in an election where a candidate for one office comes within 95 percent of the vote of the other candidate.

Kostelny had requested that discovery recount, which by the law cannot change the certified results.

The Illinois State Board of Elections on April 18 certified the results showing Donald (DJ) Tegeler the winner by seven votes. The discovery recount showed slight changes in outcomes and questionable ballots in a few precincts. However, Countryman went on to say that in order to proceed to a full and complete recount, “We need to allege that we have sufficient evidence that the outcome would be changed by a complete recount. After a careful review of all of the factors, even though we found differences in the counts that were reported both for and against Judge Kostelny we have determined that those differences are not sufficient to likely warrant a full recount.”

In addition to other considerations, Judge Kostelny asked Countryman not to proceed any further in order to avoid taxpayer expense in conducting a full recount of all the votes.

“In my experience, there will always be some minor discrepancies and oversights in the process of conducting elections,” said Countryman, a former chairman of the Illinois State Board of Elections. “Most elections are not this close, so this discovery review does not occur. However, generally good and dedicated people are working as election judges, and we believe that they are basically honest. Even though there might have been oversights on their part, we do not believe here they would change the ultimate result.

“Judge Kostelny made clear to me that she wishes to extend her appreciation to her supporters and the voters for both candidates for their support and patience during this process.”

Election: U.S. Senate

in March 18, 2014 by

Two candidates on March 18 will battle it out for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Illinois.

Jim_+oberweisJim Oberweis
Sugar Grove native Jim Oberweis defines the position of U.S. Senator as one with equally important roles: protecting the security of our nation, and helping to create an economic environment under which entrepreneurs and business people will risk their time, energy and capital to start and grow businesses, creating jobs and opportunity for everyone.

“We must get our economy moving forward again at a more rapid pace to help boost our middle class,” he said. “I think the protection of our nation both militarily and financially is something every person understands, but when it comes to our senator looking out for Illinois residents, I believe Illinois has been shortchanged in the leadership it has sent to the Senate because our Democrat senators tend to lean more toward the goals of special interest lobbying groups instead of the needs of our workers and families in need. That will change if I am elected.”

Oberweis believes Illinois needs a senator with experience in finance and business. While he grew up in the family milk and ice cream business, he had an older brother who went into the family business, so Jim chose to seek a different path. He started out as a math and science teacher, but soon moved into the financial services business as a stockbroker. He created a financial newsletter, the Oberweis Report, to document his track record as a stock picker. Oberweis then started his own stockbrokerage firm, money management company and investment mutual fund family.

Today, Oberweis Asset Management manages over $1 billion in pension assets. His son, Jim, manages that business today.

“I believe this is the kind of background that will help Illinois and our nation develop policies, which will help create jobs,” Oberweis said.

Oberweis said that given the financial crisis the country is in, it’s time for someone with financial and business experience. When his older brother, John, had a stroke and was unable to continue running the family dairy business, Jim purchased it. At the time, Oberweis Dairy had about 50 employees with a single store and home delivery service. Today Oberweis Dairy has 44 ice cream stores that also sell its milk and dairy products, and they are prominently featured in both the traditional chain supermarkets and some of the newer organic markets, such as Whole Foods.

In addition, they’ve just started a second concept called TBJ, or That Burger Joint, and the newest stores are dual concept Oberweis Ice Cream and That Burger Joint locations.

If elected, Oberweis’ highest priority is to get a truly balanced budget for the United States government in conjunction with a long-term sustainable financial model for the government to operate under for a prolonged period of time.

“What is most disturbing to me is that most Federal public officials have a meaningful understanding of world and American history, and they are aware that many successful nations throughout history have faltered or collapsed due to an unsustainable financial system or economic model,” he said. “I believe that unless we drastically change the planning, financing and operation of the Federal government—by both the Congress and the White House—we are seriously jeopardizing the ability of our nation to continue as it has for the last 250 years. For my children and grandchildren and, as of yet, unborn great-grandchildren, I want to help reverse that trend.”

Oberweis said he believes in passing a truly balanced budget for the United States government in conjunction with a long term sustainable financial model for the government to operate under indefinitely. He also wants to help “repair the damage done by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“The ACA was so badly conceived that I do not believe it can be fixed,” he said. “The premise that government knows best about what insurance we should be allowed to buy is fatally flawed. Therefore, we have no choice but to work with reasonable Democrats to produce a workable compromise plan that makes sense for all.”

To achieve those goals, Oberweis said he would keep an open mind in the spirit of one of the country’s greatest presidents.

“The greatest Republican to go to Washington from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, looked to people with divergent viewpoints, and even his political rivals, to learn every aspect of an issue and learn why people believed in a specific goal or strategy, regardless of whether he agreed with them or not,” Oberweis said. “I believe (in) keeping an open mind about how to best reach our collective current governmental goals, and will continue to follow the Lincoln process.”

Oberweis said he would work to return Congress to a more “collegial environment,” and believes legislators should vote yes on legislation they believe is good for the country and not on legislation they believe to be bad for the country, regardless of political consequences, as Oberweis has tried to do in the Illinois Senate.

“In addition to helping grow two successful businesses which employ over 1,200 people, I never get tired of being known as the “ice cream man” by the kids I meet,” Oberweis said. “They will roll their eyes if you tell them you’re just a senator, but you should see them light up when I tell them I own 44 ice cream stores.”

doug_truaxDoug Truax
Doug Truax sees the position of U.S. senator as an important representative of the people who seeks to preserve and protect freedoms and make sure that every citizen has the maximum opportunity to achieve the prosperity they desire.

As a former West Point and Army Ranger school grad and Army veteran, Truax has always believed in public service. What specifically motivated him to run for U.S. Senate was the way Democrats made Obamacare “the law of the land on a partisan procedural maneuver” on Christmas Eve, 2009.

“At that moment I decided I couldn’t stand on the sidelines any longer complaining about Washington,” Truax said. “I needed to get into the ring and fight for the America I believe in—the one that our Founding Fathers and so many others risked or gave their lives to create and preserve.”

Truax said he is running for U.S. Senate because he believes the current leadership in Washington and Illinois “has let us all down.”

And while it “purports to help the poor and the middle class,” Truax believes that the policies undertaken have done the opposite.

“We are stuck in an endless loop of ideological failure when it comes to our economy, education, our transportation system and energy,” he said. “Our unprecedented debt and record spending, combined with runaway regulation is strangling our future. Technological advancements in medicine, transportation and energy give us reason to hope for a brighter future, but we need leaders who are not stuck in a 1960s time warp and believe government is the driver for all goodness in our country.

“We need leaders who believe as the Founding Fathers did that the true greatness of America is found in its people and their resourcefulness and that government, while necessary, can be a detriment if allowed to grow too large.”

Truax said he is the best candidate in this race because the incumbent (Dick Durbin) has been in politics nearly his entire adult life and continues to rely on tired ideas and philosophies that have failed repeatedly in the public arena, yet continues to advocate those same failed policies with a curious disconnection to the results.

“He has rarely met a program, a spending plan, a tax or a regulation that he hasn’t embraced and enthusiastically supported,” Truax said. “My primary opponent (Jim Oberweis) has not been in public office as long, but not for lack of trying—he has lost five major elections in the last 11 years, and has “reinvented” himself several times along the way.

“I have little in common with either one of them. I have a military background, have never held public office and believe the ways of Washington and Springfield must change dramatically if we are to get our state and country back on track.”

Truax said he believes in results and has “little use for flowery words and good intentions that produce bad results for people.”

“We must break the cycle of sound bite politics that drive our public policy toward policies that have surface appeal but produce the opposite results,” he said. “We must break with the past, and my two opponents are less likely to see that dynamic and are more likely to favor policy prescriptions that don’t work well for Illinois families. I will be open-minded toward new thinking and new policies that break free from the old left-right paradigms.”

Should he be elected, Truax’s priorities will include reduction of the size and scope of government and reduction of the regulatory burden on all Americans; a repeal and replacement of Obamacare with market-driven health care reform that benefits all Americans; and achieving job growth by simplifying and lowering tax rates and eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens on small business.

“The people of Illinois are tired of their leaders failing them,”Truax said. “Instead of following failed ideologies and blindly following party leaders, I pledge to always protect taxpayers, follow the Constitution, keep our nation strong and strive for results instead of hollow rhetoric. I believe my military background, my private sector experience and my passion to improve the lives of individuals and families makes me suited to be U.S. Senator. We have enough career politicians in Washington and they are making our lives worse.”

Election: Kane County Clerk

in March 18, 2014 by

Two candidates on March 18 will vie to become the Republican nominee for Kane County Clerk.

Jack_CunninghamJack Cunningham
Jack Cunningham has served three terms as Kane County Clerk since 2002. He considers himself as a public servant at heart and would like the opportunity to finish the job he began 12 years ago.

“While we’ve certainly brought the Clerk’s Office into the 21st century, there’s more to be done,” he said.

According to Cunningham, the Clerk’s Office motto of “You’re always welcome at the County Clerk’s Office” can’t just be words on paper. And whether it’s a first-time candidate, someone seeking a marriage license or death certificate, or a citizen redeeming his property taxes, they must be welcomed with competence, faithfully served and treated with respect.

“Since all of Kane County eventually comes through the Clerk’s Office, this is very important to me,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham believes experience is why he’s the best candidate for the County Clerk position. In addition to 20 years as a public administrator, he has a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s degree in business and public service, two jurisprudence doctorates, and he’s served as chairman of the board for three banks.

“My law background has been instrumental in interpreting and implementing the various state statutes and mandates that regularly impact our office,” he said. “Serving on the bank board taught me about finance and the importance of teamwork. And as you might imagine, I’ve learned quite a bit serving in the clerk’s capacity for 11 years.”

According to Cunningham, to be truly effective, the county clerk has to work with people of all political persuasions, and he’s proud to say he’s done exactly that for the last decade.

“In fact, it was this very experience that helped me broker the recent budget accord between the county chairman and coroner,” he said. “A good county clerk uses his or her experience to make the office run smoothly and bring people together.”

Should he win re-election, Cunningham’s priorities will include satellite offices in Aurora and Elgin, Ill., expansion of early voting and continuing to maintain the lowest per capita clerk’s budget in the collar counties.

“Should the Kane County Clerk assume the Aurora Election Commission’s responsibilities, it would be in the best interest of our constituents to establish (satellite) offices in Illinois’ second and eighth largest cities,” he said.

In terms of early voting expansion, Cunningham said the Clerk’s Office is looking at increasing the number of sites, the available hours at those sites, and strategic use of its mobile voting unit, the “Votemobile.” And he’d maintain a fiscally sound budget through the “prudent use of technological innovation, applying for grants whenever possible and adding new efficiencies to the election process.

“We will continue to keep the Kane County taxpayers’ best fiscal interest in mind,” he said.

Cunningham also noted that the Clerk’s Office has brought in $3.7 million in HAVA (Help America Vote Act) and other grants to help modernize voting equipment at no cost to Kane County taxpayers since 2002. And all birth, death and marriage records from 1836 to present have been scanned and will soon be available for genealogical research.

Mark_DavoustMark Davoust
Mark Davoust believes the county clerk position serves three major functions: maintenance of vital records, preparing tax extensions and running elections.

“In addition to performing these functions, I believe that the clerk should take a pro-active role in educating voters and working to include more voters in the electoral process,” he said.

A graduate of Naperville North High School, Davoust is the vice president of Brasel Products, Inc., where he began working in 1981. He’s also served as a commissioner for Kane County Board District 14 and the Kane County Forest Preserve since 2004. He holds an associates degree from Waubonsee Community College, and completed additional coursework at Western Illinois University and Aurora University.

In terms of community involvement, Davoust is a member of the National Federation of Independent Business and Illinois Manufacturer’s Association. He’s a former coach of youth softball and soccer, a former director of the Illinois Bar Foundation and a former member of the Downtown Batavia Task Force.

Davoust said he seeks the Republican nomination for Kane County clerk because he “witnessed a downward spiral in the number of participating voters and recognized a need within the Clerk’s Office to reach out to voters.”

“With voter turnout hovering at around 10 percent, we can and should do a better job of educating and engaging voters,” he said. “We need to remind voters of the importance of local government.”

Davoust considers himself the best candidate for the county clerk position because he will “bring a new energy and a fresh perspective to the office.”

“I bring a record of accomplishment from my time on the Kane County Board and from running a successful small business, in Kane County, to the table,” he said. “I will be a better steward of taxpayer’s dollars and work to save taxpayers money.”

If elected, Davoust’s top three priorities as county clerk will include working to combine the offices of clerk and recorder to increase efficiencies and save taxpayers money; working to identify effective polling places and secure long-term commitments to those locations; and developing a consistent message to be delivered to the schools and communities, year-round, to educate and encourage voter participation.

To achieve those goals, Davoust said he plans to work closely with his current colleagues on the Kane County Board, taking advantage of their local knowledge of each of their respective districts.

“I plan to approach the Regional Office of Education and school superintendants throughout the county in order to begin a program designed to raise awareness of the importance of local government and thereby increase voter participation,” Davoust said.

‘Show You Care Kane’ public question

in March 18, 2014 by

KANE COUNTY—The Show You Care Kane Committee will seek support for residents with mental and physical disabilities with a referendum item on the March 18 ballot.

Once people with disabilities reach the age of 22, they are no longer eligible for school programs and support. The Show You Care Kane initiative is intended to support young adults with mental or physical disabilities such as down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.

With the funding, adults with mental and physical disabilities would receive training they need for a job. Adults that are capable would be able to get a job and receive a pay check.

“Many of the young adults with disabilities do not care about the size of the pay check they receive. They feel a sense of accomplishment because they earned it,” said Gil Fonger, president and CEO of Marklund, a day school for children with special needs, and a Life Skills training academy for teens diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum.

The young adults would also have a regular schedule that would have them out of the house from 9 a.m. to at least 3 p.m. They would also enjoy various activities and events that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Should the referendum pass, the Kane County board will appoint three members for a board called the Care and Treatment of Persons with Disabilities, which would meet this July to determine the levy rate and how the funds are distributed. It is estimated that a home in Kane County with a value of $182,000 would pay around $55 per year, or $1 per week.

SG Library seeks limiting rate increase

in March 18, 2014/Sugar Grove by

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Public Library hopes to increase its limiting rate an additional $2.14 per month, or $25 more per year (for a home valued at $100,000), through a referendum on the March 18 ballot. The library needs additional funds to maintain the facility and grounds, support a number of current programs, departments and new programs it would like to add this year. The additional money would help the library afford the purchase of more materials in physical and downloadable formats, as well as the purchase of new computers to replace aging ones.

The library has attempted to raise the limiting rate in the past to no avail. It needs to increase that rate this year to replenish its budget. The additional several dollars per month would also extend the library’s hours.

“If the limiting rate passed during the referendum, we could have the library open every day with consistent hours,” said Library Director Carol Dolin. “Right now, we are open some mornings and some evenings. People would be able to remember our hours easily.”

The library staff is concerned with the library’s current budget.

“Our budget is almost depleted after we threw the party celebrating the library being open for 50 years,” Dolin said. “We would really like to see this referendum pass so that we can also have money to fund our summer programs.”

The library celebrated its 50-year milestone last July, and provided food, beverages and entertainment from the a cappella group Ac Rock.

The Sugar Grove library currently has the lowest limiting rate in the area, with Kaneville, Oswego, Elburn, Aurora and Batavia all possessing higher rates. With a vast amount of services offered, the library staff hopes that the public will vote to pass the referendum to ensure that the library can continue to offer a large variety of programs and materials.

Should the referendum pass, the library staff will survey the public to understand their needs and expectations for library hours, programs and materials.

Energy savings program for unincorporated Kane residents

in March 18, 2014 by

KANE COUNTY—The Department of Environmental & Water Resources is looking to pass an electric aggregation referendum that would reduce the cost of electric bills for residents of unincorporated Kane County. In an effort to create awareness about the referendum, Kane County sent out 16,000 letters to residents of unincorporated Kane County to let them know they have the opportunity to pass a referendum that would save them money on their electric bill.

Ken Anderson Jr., director of the Environmental & Water Resources, would like to see the residents take advantage of this energy savings program.

“The program is totally voluntary, and anyone can opt out at anytime at no cost,” he said. “The goal is to save residents of unincorparted Kane County money on their electric bills.”

This energy savings opportunity was made possible through the last part of the deregulation process that originally only allowed larger customers such as individual commercial and government entities to participate. It’s now open to residential and small businesses.

If the electrical aggregation referendum does pass, ComEd will have to compete with power suppliers from around the midwest in order to continue to supply electricity to small business owners and residential homes of Kane County. There are 5 to 8 other suppliers that will bid for this opportunity, according to Anderson.

The Kane County Board would administer a small administrative fee for the energy savings program, which would cost residents between $.10 to $.50 per month, or per 1,000 kilowatts. On average a home uses around 1,000 kilowatts per month, according to Anderson.

“We are wanting to use the big numbers that we have in unincorporated Kane County to obtain a good price from a provider,” Anderson said.

Election: 50th District Representative

in March 18, 2014 by

Four candidates on March 18 will compete for the 50th District Representative Republican nomination.

juliecosimoJulie Cosimo
Julie Cosimo defines the role of the 50th District Representative as serving the constituents of its district on a full-time basis, in addition to introducing bills and resolutions and serving on committees.

“A representative in any district should be the eyes and ears of the constituents they serve and that of the community,” she said.

Cosimo will challenge for the 50th District Representative Republican nomination on the March 18 General Primary Election ballot. She’s the director of Career Development and a lecturer at Benedictine University, and currently serves as the first vice president of the Kendall County Republican Women, president of the Illinois Small College Placement Association and as a board member for the Kendall County Historical Society.

“In my current position, I speak to employers and job seekers everyday who express their frustrations with the job market and the current state of the economy,” Cosimo said. “I am running (for office) to move Springfield in a better direction by reducing spending, spurring job growth, holding down taxes and improving educational opportunities.”

Cosimo believes she’s the best candidate for 50th District Representative because she has over 17 years of experience in education; extensive experience in workforce development and job creation, including work with thousands of job seekers and employers to create job opportunities; and she founded and ran a successful business, providing her with a strong foundation in understanding the challenges that both employees and employers face.

“I believe that the combination of all of these experiences will be instrumental in moving our state in the right direction. Additionally, over the years, I have served on many committees and boards, of which I believe to be an asset to being able to serve the voters in this district,” Cosimo said.

If elected, Cosimo’s priorities will include creating an environment that will improve the economy and create good-paying jobs; developing a business-friendly environment by removing unnecessary regulations and reducing taxation that prevent businesses from hiring and retaining employees; and putting the Medicaid system under the microscope.

“With the rise in Medicaid fraud, our state needs to strongly look at eligibility requirements and ensure that people that should not be on Medicaid are not receiving it,” Cosimo said. “A system needs to be put in place where there needs to be better oversight for those that receive Medicaid.”

In terms of improving the economy and creating jobs that pay well, Cosimo said it can be done by partnering with businesses and colleges to develop workforce-training programs that will prepare our community residence for a 21st century global workforce.

“We need to get people back to work,” she said.

Cosimo would also join a coalition of “like-minded legislators in Springfield who can work together.”

“There are good elected officials in Springfield that want to make a difference. I will find them, join them and work with them to create a team to provide a better solution for the good of Illinois,” she said. “We will do this by becoming a vocal minority that gets the attention of the media, voters and eventually the legislators in Springfield.”

Cosimo is running for the 50th District Representative Republican nomination because she wants to be influential in restoring Illinois to its natural health while focusing on building a better job market and improving the educational system.

“I have never held an elected office, nor have I ever received or requested any money from taxpayers,” she said.

Beth_GoncherBeth Goncher
When it comes to discussing her qualifications for office, 50th District Representative Republican candidate Beth Gonchar is humble and straightforward.

“There is very little my opponents and I disagree on but I’m the only candidate who can hit the ground running in Springfield,” Goncher said. “This is not the time for on-the-job training. I understand the legislative process. I know the issues and what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. More importantly, I understand how bad legislation affects our families and our employers. Springfield is out of gimmicks, and the issues facing our state are urgent.”

A graduate of Rosary High School and Dominican University, Goncher spent numerous years working in human resources before she took a job as Legislative and Constituent Services director for State Representative Tim Schmitz in 2001—a position she holds to this day. She also served on the Board of Directors for The Compassion Foundation, a not-for-profit, before she was named executive director of the organization in January 2014.

Goncher believes the role of the office of State Representative is to be a voice and a resource for the people of the district, as well as the state. She said the position of State Representative should not be looked at as a career, but rather as a privilege.

“I’m outraged at business as usual in Illinois politics,” she said. “I’ve spent years talking with friends and neighbors from all different backgrounds. I know there are others like me who are outraged by the dysfunction in Springfield. Members of the Illinois Legislature seem to care more about getting re-elected than dealing with out-of-control spending, and satisfying special interests than they do about families and jobs. I’ve had enough, and I’m not the only one.”

If elected, Goncher’s priorities will include the state budget, promoting job policies and reforming the pension system while enacting term limits for all state politicians in order to “stop career politicians who got us in this mess.”

“I strongly support and will push for a balanced budget amendment and crystal-clear transparency in the state budget to end the shell games that have put us in this mess,” she said. “(Promotion of job policies) will make Illinois competitive again with our neighboring states. We’re getting left behind and we must have forward-thinking leadership before it’s too late for us.”

Gonchar knows full well what it will take to achieve her goals if she takes office.

“I’m going to work tirelessly to be the voice of communities in our area,” she said. “Places like Elburn and Sugar Grove, Batavia and Yorkville, where common sense still matters and you simply don’t spend more money than you have. I’m outraged at the lack of common sense in Springfield, and I want people to know that our voices will be heard.”

bill_keckWilliam Keck
In his candidacy for the 50th District Representative Republican nomination this spring, candidate William Keck’s message is simple and to the point.

“I want to represent the citizens of District 50 in the Illinois General Assembly,” he said.

Keck served as Kane County Auditor from 1992 to 2012, but that’s hardly where his resume ends. He’s currently treasurer for the Kane County Central Committee and Kane County Western Township, and has served as a charter member of the Sugar Grove Lions Club since 1969. He was the founding director of Mutual Ground in 1975, Sugar Grove Troop 41 Boy Scout leader from 1968 to 1970, and currently on the St. Gall Church Finance Committee and as secretary treasurer for the Sugar Grove Cemetery Association.

Keck is a lifelong resident of Sugar Grove, and describes himself as a fiscal and social conservative who believes strongly in the platform of the Republican Party. He holds a BBA in management from Notre Dame University and a Master of Science in accountancy from Northern Illinois University.

Keck said he is concerned about the state of Illinois’ financial condition and believes that an audit professional can make a difference.

“I am the only candidate with experience managing government budgets,” he said.

Should he be elected, Keck’s priorities will include creating a balanced budget with a revenue stream for each expenditure; honoring agreements and fully funding the pension liability; and encouraging small-business development with tax incentives and a reduction of regulations.

Keck would also work with fellow Republicans and Democrats who are concerned with the condition of Illinois’ finances and want to save the state from bankruptcy.

“Having served five terms as Kane County Auditor, I believe that an audit professional can make a difference in the Illinois General Assembly,” Keck said. “I do not agree with a tax increase at this time. We need to reduce costs and increase efficiency in Illinois government.”

Keck also opposes a progressive income tax.

“Illinois needs to return to the flat 3 percent income tax.”

Wheeler_KeithKeith Wheeler
Keith Wheeler sees the role of 50th District Representative as the people’s representation in the General Assembly in Springfield.

“While the General Assembly is seen primarily in its role of making laws, a state representative is also a resource for constituents when it comes to state government issues, problems and concerns,” he said.

Wheeler on March 18 will seek the 50th District Representative Republican nomination.

He currently owns Responsive Network Services, LLC., and serves as a Bristol Township trustee and Bristol 5 Republican Precinct committeeman.

He’s also currently the board chairman for Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, board chairman for Kendall County Food Pantry, Illinois Leadership Council chairman for National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), current board treasurer for Oswego Bears Youth Football and Cheer Pop Warner program, District 308 Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee member.

As a small business owner in Illinois, Wheeler said he has seen first-hand the damage that Springfield has done to the Illinois business community.

“Employers, jobs and families are leaving Illinois at a frightening pace. In my role as board chairman of the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce and Illinois Leadership Council for NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business), I hear from fellow business owners that Illinois is not as competitive as we should be. That is demonstrated by our unemployment rate being higher than any of our neighboring states. We see it locally by the increase in the demand for food at local food pantries. I pay close attention to this in my role as the Kendall County Food Pantry board chairman. I am running to help create and support Illinois jobs for Illinois families—that’s actually the theme of my campaign.”

Twenty-two years as a small-business owner means that Wheeler signs the front of paychecks; not just the back. It also means he understands what job creators are dealing with in today’s business climate. He believes he has a pulse on the business community and has working relationships with the organizations that understand what needs to change in order to improve the business and hiring climate in Illinois.

And as a parent with young children, Wheeler’s eye is on the future.

“We need to make Illinois a state with an education system of which we are proud and that we can count on for preparing the next generation for success here in Illinois,” he said.

If elected, Wheeler’s priorities will include job creation, a focus on state spending and pension reform.

“While our state has been struggling to pay its bills and we suffered through a 67 percent increase in income taxes, the Democrats in Springfield increased state spending instead of paying off the outstanding bills,” Wheeler said. “This is the wrong approach to improving the balance sheet of the state of Illinois. We need to examine runaway Medicaid fraud and perform a forensic audit of state spending to root out waste, fraud, abuse and duplicative spending.

In regard to pension reform, Wheeler believes the only way to truly solve the pension mess would be to move to a defined contribution system so that payment to and on behalf of the employee will be complete at the same time the employee is working.

“For this reason, I will support massive expansion of the new defined contribution program that was introduced in the recent pension bill,” he said.

An important step Wheeler would like to lead with is creation of a bipartisan Small Business Caucus to give the job-creating small-business community in Illinois a louder voice in Springfield.

Wheeler created a plan called “Illinois Jobs for Illinois Families” in order to make the state “more competitive and give companies, entrepreneurs and hard-working citizens a reason to make Illinois their home.” The outline of Wheeler’s plan includes:
• Make Illinois a more affordable place to do business—stop the progressive income tax which would raise taxes on 85 percent of Illinois families
• Clean up the pension and bill payment mess in Springfield
• Perform a forensic audit to clear out waste, fraud, abuse and duplicative state spending
• Restore state funding promised to local school districts to keep our promise to our kids and prevent further increases in property taxes

Election: Kane County Board District 5

in March 18, 2014 by

The race for the Kane County Board District 5 Republican nomination in the March 18 General Primary Election will come down to incumbent Melisa Taylor and challenger Bill Lenert

Bill_LenertBill Lenert
Bill Lenert believes Kane County Board members are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the interests and desires of the residents of Kane County.

Lenert on March 18 will seek the board’s District 5 seat and the opportunity to represent its 22,000 residents.

“I would work to ensure that our taxpayers receive the best possible return on every tax dollar they spend,” he said.

In order to accomplish this, Lenert, a Sugar Grove resident, said he will listen to the needs and desires of his constituents to make sure the board is utilizing its county resources in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible to improve the daily lives of its residents.

Lenert has a wife, Mary; three kids, Katie, Bill and Mike; and six grandchildren. He’s been a small-business owner in Kane County for over 29 years, and has seen the way that burdensome regulations and high taxes can cripple business expansion and job growth in our community. He owns Lenert Insurance Agency in Aurora.

“I believe the same sound, fiscal principles that I have utilized personally and in my business should be implemented by our County Board to ensure responsible and proper use of our taxes,” he said.

Lenert believes that being a first-time candidate for political office will provide the citizens of District 5 with a new voice on issues impacting our local community.

“I am running because I know I can be an asset to the County Board in working to make our community an even more desirable place to live and work,” he said.

He also believes his business, educational (M.B.A., Illinois Benedictine University), and community leadership experience distinguish him from his opponent. Over the past 30 years, Lenert’s been an active community participant, serving as co-chair of the successful 2004 West Aurora School District Referendum, co-chair of the successful 2013 Saint Katharine Drexel “Open Wide Your Hearts” building campaign, board member of the Rockford Diocese Finance Council since 2006, as well as former president of the Holy Angels School Board, and former board member of the Aurora Family Counseling Service.

“These experiences allow me to offer a fresh perspective to the County Board that is most reflective of the desires and needs of our residents,” Lenert said. “My professional demeanor will make me a more effective representative in working with community leaders and our taxpayers to serve the needs of the residents of District 5.”

If elected, Lenert’s top three priorities will include lowering taxes, extending Metra to Sugar Grove, and promoting more jobs and better wages.

“I fully support maintaining a frozen property tax levy indefinitely,” he said. “It is imperative that our County Board members continue to exercise sound fiscal management in eliminating financial waste to lessen the ever increasing tax burdens placed upon our residents.”

In terms of the Metra-to-Sugar Grove project, Lenert sees the improvement of transportation as a critical component to the economic well-being of any community. And by extending Metra to Sugar Grove, he believes the citizens of District 5 will be provided with a convenient means of transportation that is lacking.

“Accomplishing this goal will connect our residents with surrounding suburbs and Chicago, making District 5 more attractive to commuters and businesses alike,” he said. “In order to promote more jobs and better wages in Kane County, we must attract new businesses to our community. Having been a lifelong Kane County resident and local business owner, I have developed relationships with many successful individuals and businesses in our community. My ability to comfortably conduct myself in a professionally diplomatic manner makes me the best candidate to attract new development and business opportunities to District 5.”

Lenert sees an environment of professional collaboration and mutual respect between County Board members and department directors as critical to the successful operations of the county, and believes its leaders must be able to conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner if they wish to work together to improve the quality of life for residents.

“My business and community experiences allow me to best professionally, competently and diplomatically represent the interests of District 5,” he said. “Additionally, our community leaders must make themselves available to address the needs and concerns of their constituents. If elected, my constituents can expect to be treated with the same respect and attentiveness I have provided to my insurance clients for the past 30 years. I will make every effort to promptly respond to their questions and concerns and will work to make sure their needs are properly addressed.”

Lenert defines his motivation for seeking the District 5 County Board seat with a simple reason.

“I believe that my experiences as a lifelong Kane County resident and local business owner will assist the County Board in working collaboratively to improve the quality of life for all Kane County residents,” he said.

Melissa_TaylorMelisa Taylor
Kane County Board District 5 member Melisa Taylor sees the role of community volunteer as essential to public service.

As founder of Sugar Grove’s Between Friends Food Pantry, Taylor’s seen firsthand the obstacles and pain felt in families in the 5th District and elsewhere throughout Kane County.

“(That) is forefront in my mind when I take a vote or a position on issues affecting us,” Taylor said. “I have worked with taxpayers to ask our assessor why she is raising our assessments when our taxes are going nowhere but up. I think about our fiscal condition when I ask difficult questions. Why can’t we merge these services and make our government work more efficiently?”

As a community volunteer, Taylor became involved with educational issues while raising two daughters with her husband, Rich. Before long she was elected to serve as a trustee on the Sugar Grove Village Board.

“As I realized that our county government demanded an independent voice, free from influence, nepotism and conflicts, I moved toward consideration of a County Board seat,” she said.

Elected to the County Board in fall 2010 and re-elected in 2012, Melisa has helped residents battle local flooding problems, and she’s worked hard for an expanded commercial development along Randall Road. She said she wants to avoid additional costs to business owners when they want to develop in Kane County.

Taylor said the average American family statistically has $3,000 in average savings, so every penny that they give to the county as taxpayers to government, especially locally, makes the County Board’s responsibility to them serious and sacred.

“Our job as County Board members is to remember that we must stand up, do the right thing and ensure that we are always aware that our allegiance is to our districts, and that our job is to work cooperatively with those on the board to ensure that our district is well represented,” Taylor said.

Taylor also believes she’s done her best to stay involved in district outreach activities, including volunteerism, local public service, church expansion and rebuilding. She was involved in finding an alternative building while St. Katherine’s Parish was under construction, and served on the Solheim Cup Committee. She also helped the county veteran’s coordinator to organize the Veteran’s Honor Day at the Kane County Wall honoring service men and women.

“I enjoy staying in touch with people in the 5th District,” she said.

Taylor has traveled downstate to represent her district, organized tax appeal meetings, and she’s assisted in sending messages out about subdivision, village and township needs. She’s also made it a priority to question “needless county waste and spending.”

“I have never denied that I investigate, inquire and want to ensure that my constituents know that the money they give to their county government is being utilized for solid projects, plans, and programs, which will serve the needs of the district,” Taylor said. “My investigations seek to ensure that my peers and I work cooperatively so valuable projects sought in our district are met favorably by my colleagues.”

Taylor also notes that she believes she has no personal conflicts that may interfere with her decisions to represent the people in her district.

“My opponent does have clear conflicts of interest, which would arise during voting and decision making as a board member,” Taylor said. “Being a childhood friend of the county chairman, a major donor for (Kane County Board Chairman Chris) Lauzen’s campaigns and also his longtime insurance agent means he will likely follow his lead in any issue and vote as told to. My opponent’s son also works for the law firm representing the county chairman, the County Board and the Forest Preserve, which also brings up more issues of nepotism and pay-to-play politics.”

If re-elected, Taylor wants to focus on the completion of the Route 47/I-88 interchange by working as a team with local, state, federal and private entities, and she’s also interested in the extension of Dauberman Road, stressing the need to re-establish communication and teamwork to explore the process and the possibility of any potential outside financing.

Taylor also wants to continue working with Metra on its Sugar Grove extension by progressing talks in order to keep the project on the forefront of the company’s project list.

“If re-elected, Taylor pledges to research the issues and ask the appropriate questions, and said she supports her fellow board members to do the same.

“I pledged when I took office that I would remain vigilant in regard to needless spending, consolidate government service when needed and treat your money as if it is the last dollar available. This has not always been popular, but my resolve is to do whatever is right for my district. They are my employers, and my dedication to them is my first priority.”

Election: Kane County Sheriff

in March 18, 2014 by

Two candidates on the March 18 General Primary Election ballot will vie for the Kane County Sheriff Republican nomination.

Kramer_DonDonald Kramer
Donald Kramer defines the role of Kane County Sheriff as the responsibility to protect the rights of all citizens and uphold the Constitution of the United States and the State of Illinois.

Kramer, a retired lieutenant and the Republican nominee for Kane County Sheriff in 2010, is committed to making a difference in the community by keeping Kane County a great place to live and work.

“I will strive to provide excellence in the service we provide our community in protection of your property and family, the efficient operation of the county jail and the security of county government buildings,” Kramer said. “I will also be a fair and honest leader to the 300 employees of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office and a good steward of the $26 million dollar budget.”

Kramer’s role model in law enforcement is his father, retired sheriff George Kramer, who was a juvenile officer at Batavia Police Department before becoming sheriff.

“I watched as he helped kids get their lives back on track,” Kramer said.

Kramer is also active with Kane County Safe Kids, Suicide Prevention Services and the Geneva Rotary Club to give back to his community and serve the needs of its youth.

“I have seen too many young people lose their lives to poor decisions and, like my father, have made a lifetime commitment to helping our youth succeed in life,” Kramer said.

If elected, Kramer said he would set goals for officers and create an administrative structure that oversees the daily functions and plans for the unexpected. He hopes to improve the personal relationships the Sheriff’s Office has built with the community and expand the opportunities for its officers to better serve the needs of neighborhoods and businesses.

“It is important for me to run for sheriff because I believe there are many improvements that can be made to reduce crime and increase the quality of life in our county,” Kramer said.

Kramer has also worked on many projects within the Sheriff’s Office and organizations in the community, with the focus on solving problems that confront Kane County citizens.

“It is very important that law enforcement work closely with the community to address our concerns and resolve them through partnerships,” he said.

Kramer has 30 years of police experience, all with the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, and he believes the leadership roles during his career have prepared him for the challenges of operating a large fiscal budget and managing 300 employees. Over a period of eight years as a lieutenant, he was responsible for department training, computer network administration, new recruit training, community policing, civil process and grant writing.

As a sergeant, Kramer led a county-wide traffic safety program that was recognized nationally for reducing deaths and injuries.

“I am the only candidate with a master’s degree (criminal justice, Chicago State University) and also advanced certificates in police administration and computer network administration,” he said. “(And) I have made a commitment to serve the community for over 20 years in many non-profit and community-based organizations to improve the quality of life for our citizens.”

Kramer’s list of priorities as sheriff would include improvement of the flow of information to our officers and the public by the command staff (lieutenants); participation with other local law enforcement agencies and community organizations in promoting educational programs that address bullying, drug abuse, domestic violence and suicide; and identification of ways to reduce costs and lessen the burden to taxpayers.

“I would like to see the Sheriff’s Office become more green, thereby reducing energy costs and monthly expenditures,” Kramer said. “I have examined alternative fuels for fleet vehicles and believe we can reduce our overall budget each year after the initial cost of conversion to natural gas or propane. I believe we should also incorporate wind and solar power at our facilities to reduce traditional energy costs.”

To achieve those items, Kramer believes his goals must reflect the needs of the community and involve input from office employees.

“I have listened to the concerns of citizens and have been considering action plans to solve these problems,” he said. But through experience, I know I need the input of the workforce to be successful. I believe in team-building and encouraging all staff members to participate in making the organization more efficient and productive.”

In terms of the sheriff’s current state of coverage for western portions of the county during nighttime hours, Kramer said the number of patrol officers assigned to each shift is best determined by the number of calls received during the shift and the available time officers have to devote to crime prevention.

“I believe that we could improve coverage all over the county with additional deputies, but that would require an increase in the budget and the raising of your taxes,” he said. “Instead, I have plans to distribute officers more evenly across all three shifts and stagger the shift changes so officers are available in all areas of the county. This is important because it will reduce the amount of time it takes for officers to respond to calls and assure coverage in western townships.”

Kramer said everyone has a stake in keeping local neighborhoods safe so that families can enjoy security at nearby schools, parks and businesses.

“We also need to confront some very unpleasant issues dealing with drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence,” he said. “I believe that my career as a police officer for over 30 years and the commitment to several community organizations for the last 20 years, have prepared me to take on this leadership role.”

Williams_KevinKevin Williams
Kane County Sheriff candidate Kevin Williams sees the position of sheriff as the top law enforcement officer in the county—one that oversees three branches: the courts, corrections and public safety.

“The sheriff’s role is building partnerships with the Kane County Board, the community, local school officials, law enforcement agencies, local governments, townships and civic organizations,” he said. “The sheriff must also be a good leader and manager in order to run an efficient and effective office.”

Williams currently serves as lieutenant of Community Policing and Crime Prevention at the Kane County Sheriff’s Office. He was the Republican nominee for Kane County Sheriff in 2006. He holds a Police Staff and Command Certification from Northwestern University, a Corrections Officers Certification from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as additional certifications in Northeast Multi-Regional Training, gang specialist investigations, drug investigations, suburban law enforcement, human resource development and internal affairs.

In terms of community, Williams is a member of Friends of Jason Gould leukemia and lymphoma fundraising organization, and he’s a Special Olympics volunteer. Williams and his wife Tracy have three children and two grandchildren, with another grandchild on the way.

Williams seeks the position of Kane County Sheriff because of his strong passion for public service, as well as his 35 years of civil service, 22 of which has been through the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

“I am running for Kane County Sheriff because I have the knowledge, skill and the abilities needed to manage a complex, professional law enforcement organization that is dedicated to the community’s needs,” Williams said. “I am running for Kane County Sheriff because I have a long-standing passion to pursue those who do harm against the residents of Kane County. I am devoted to Kane County and will strive to keep it a safe place in which to live, work and raise our families.”

As a lieutenant with numerous administrative assignments, Williams believes he has proven to be a good manager utilizing his organizational, planning, and reasoning abilities, and that he has demonstrated the character to build trust and the competence to lead.

“I have the right temperament to work with my fellow employees, other government bodies and community members,” he said. “I have arrested more criminals who have committed felonies in Kane County than my opponent. I have criminal investigative experience, a thorough knowledge of crime scene protection/evidence collection, investigations of dangerous street gangs and as an undercover narcotics officer.

Williams said he has built law enforcement and community coalitions throughout his tenure with the Sheriff’s Office to achieve “greater impact on gang and drug problems, improve senior safety, school safety and neighborhood watch programs.”

“My dedication to communities for over 20 years uniquely qualifies me to understand the impact that crime is having on our communities,” he said. “I have a strong record of getting to the core of the problem and coming to achievable solutions.”

If elected, Williams’ priorities will include combatting the growing heroin and prescription drug abuse problem in Kane County.

“Having served on a panel with law enforcement, recovering addicts and families who have lost loved ones, I know that the best way to combat the growing use of heroin is to work with the community, schools and local law enforcement to educate the community on the changing face of heroin abuse,” he said. “I will continue to educate the community on the dangers of heroin and prescription drug abuse.”

Williams would also prioritize the protection of Kane County’s most vulnerable citizens, including its growing senior population and its children.

“I will continue to work with senior service programs, TRIAD programs, and other local law enforcement programs to protect Kane County’s growing senior population,” he said. “I will also continue to work closely with school administrators to protect our children against intruders, bullying, and continue education on substance abuse.”

Williams also wants to run an efficient and fiscally responsible office, and work closely with the County Board and the Command Staff at the Sheriff’s Office to ensure that the office is “running as fiscally responsible as possible.”

“Success as a sheriff hinges on the ability to build partnerships with the employees of the Sheriff’s Office, the community, local municipalities and the county government,” Williams said. “I have been doing just that for the past 20 years and will continue to strive for better and stronger partnerships in order to be a successful Sheriff.”

In terms of the Kane County Sheriff’s ability to adequately patrol western portions of the county during nighttime hours, Williams believes the Sheriff’s Office has done its best to protect the citizens of Kane County despite being understaffed.

“Sheriff Perez has done a great job with the resources he has,” Williams said. “This is why community involvement, through the form of programs like Neighborhood Watch and senior safety crime education programs, are important. I have been working with such programs as lieutenant of Community Policing and will continue to facilitate good working relationships with communities as sheriff. Continuing to build partnerships with the community is the biggest force enhancer law enforcement has.”

Williams has been nominated three times for the Kane County Sheriff’s Officer of the Year Award. He’s accepted the Courage Award for risking his life, as he entered a structure fire in an attempt to locate a handicapped subject. He received the Meritorious Award for driving his personal four-wheel drive vehicle to rescue numerous deputies who were stranded for over 24 hours in the blizzard of 2011, and was the recipient of the Leadership Award for his direction, organization and planning of responding and assisting officers to a home invasion/attempted murder incident, and also the Life Saving Award for locating and saving a citizen who was about to commit suicide with a shotgun.
Accolades aside, Williams’ message is simple.

“I am the best choice for Kane County Sheriff,” he said.

Editorial: The results are in

in April 9, 2013/Editorial/Opinion by

… And just like that, 2013 Consolidated Election season is over. Kaput. Finito.

Tuesday’s election festivities resulted in some familiar officials staying put in their current position, as well as some new faces hitting the local government scene via big wins at the polls. Here’s what we know:

• A highly competitive, combative village president race in Sugar Grove resulted in incumbent Sean Michels retaining his seat for another four years. Michels, defeated village trustee Kevin Geary by collecting 55.72 percent of the vote.
• Tom Rowe is the new Sugar Grove Township supervisor, thanks to an election performance in which he carried over 44 percent of the vote in a four-man race.
• The Sugar Grove Village Board retained two trustees in Rick Montalto and Robert Bohler, and added a new one in Sean Herron, who outlasted trustee hopefuls Gayle Deja-Schultz and Stephanie Landorf.
• Elburn, too, retained two of its village trustees—Kenneth Anderson Jr. and Jeffrey Walter—and added village plan commissioner Pat Schuberg. Be sure to check out reporter Elburn Herald reporter Susan O’Neill’s write-up of Schuberg on page 1A of this week’s issue.
• Patricia Hill is Kaneville’s next village president, as she edged Rick Peck by just three votes on Tuesday evening. Peck served as interim village president following the passing of Bob Rodney in July 2012.
• Maple Park will have a newcomer on its Village Board, as Lucas Goucher was one of three candidates elected to a four-term position on Tuesday evening. Greg Cutsinger and Terry Borg were also elected to four-year seats in Maple Park.

Commentary follows election
aftermath in Sugar Grove
Michels said he’s excited for the opportunity to serve four more years as Sugar Grove village president.

“It was great to have the support of the rest of the board, and we worked together,” he said. “I think people are tired of the negativity and the complaining. The residents have said that things are progressing in Sugar Grove. We’ve accomplished a lot, and we have a lot more to accomplish as we move forward. I am looking forward to the opportunity. I think my opponent has some fence-mending to do.”

Geary on Tuesday night was gracious in defeat, and noted that he still has two years left in his current term—time that he plans to spend representing Sugar Grove and “being their champion for issues and concerns.”

“A lot of things have been said throughout this campaign, but we’re all Sugar Grove residents, and we need to pull together and make this the world-class community that we desire to make it,” Geary said.

Rowe makes it count
with election night win
What can $600 get you these days? If you’re Tom Rowe, plenty.

That’s the total Rowe spent on his grassroots campaign for Sugar Grove Township supervisor, and it will go down as the best $600 he’s ever spent. Rowe came out way ahead of his three opponents in Tuesday night’s election.

“It’s a big relief (to win the election). I really didn’t know it would come out this way,” Rowe said. “I thought I had a good campaign, and the race was mostly clean and positive. The voters have spoken, and I look forward to beginning a new chapter for Sugar Grove Township.”

On Tuesday morning, it was discovered that someone had tried to burn one of Rowe’s campaign signs.

Anderson, Walter thankful for re-election
Elburn trustee re-elect Kennth Anderson said he’s thankful and blessed to have the support of the residents of the village of Elburn.

“It has been a pleasure to have represented them for the past four years, (and) I look forward to representing them for four more.”

Walter said public service is truly a calling, and even just running takes a huge commitment to your community.

“Elburn is in an incredible position for future growth that needs to be managed properly,” he said. “My commitment to the village is to continue to be the voice of my constituents in managing the village with a sense of fiscal responsibility and an eye toward smart growth.”

Of course, these election results were made possible by residents getting out and hitting the polls. We applaud everyone who made the effort to ensure that their voice was heard this election season, and we hope voter turnout will be even greater next time around.

Until then, farewell 2013 Consolidated Election season. Though our time together was brief, we absolutely enjoyed every second of it.

Mallard Point still an issue of contention for Geary

in April 9, 2013/Sugar Grove by

by Cheryl Borrowdale
SUGAR GROVE—Long-simmering tensions between Village President Sean Michels and his challenger, trustee Kevin Geary, spilled into public view just weeks prior to the April 9 election for Village President.

Geary has accused Michels of arranging “a backroom deal” that caused Mallard Point residents to experience another decade of groundwater problems.

Though Geary ultimately retracted his accusation that Michels and the village had acted illegally after the Village Board approved the public release of minutes from a 2003 executive session at Tuesday night’s Village Board meeting, he continues to maintain that residents have not yet received the truth.

The issue
Geary has long been critical of the village’s handling of drainage problems in the Mallard Point subdivision, which caused flooding in some residents’ basements for years and caused nearby farms to lose acreage to flooding. He originally charged that “a backroom deal” had taken place between Michels; Engineering Enterprises, Inc., a company owned by Michel’s father, Jim Michels; and Village Attorney Peter Wilson.

Geary released hundreds of pages of documents to the Elburn Herald, including a May 19, 2003, letter that released MB Financial, the development bank that completed the troubled subdivision after the original developer abandoned it, from responsibility for completing the bypass storm sewer line. Geary said the agreement led to Mallard Point residents experiencing another decade of flooding and groundwater problems.

“What the village did is a backroom deal without the consent or knowledge of the board members not to have that drainage point put in, (and) this is the result of all the flooding,” Geary said. “What makes it a backroom deal is that in order for this to be a legal maneuver by the village, it has to be brought before the entire Village Board, and the board has to vote on the transaction and it never was. I’ve been on the board for 14 years, and I never saw this until I started digging deeper and deeper.”

Michels dismissed Geary’s claims as “bogus” and a “wild turkey shoot.”

“He’s looking to sensationalize the election,” Michels said. “It’s an election ploy. He’s trailing significantly, so he’s trying to do a Hail Mary … it’s bogus. Why is Kevin coming out with this now? Why just before the election? It makes me upset because there’s nothing to it, but yet Kevin keeps trying to bring something out of it.”

When the board voted on Tuesday to release the minutes from an April 15, 2003, executive session, which discussed the village’s agreement not to continue pressing MB Financial to install the drainage, Geary backed off his accusation that the board’s actions had been illegal, but maintained that the village still refused to take responsibility for failing to ensure the subdivision had proper drainage.

“Maybe I was a bit harsh with that analysis (that the village’s actions were illegal), but I think the residents need to have the truth, the God’s honest truth, of what happened,” he said.

Michels said that Geary’s retraction didn’t surprise him.

“It’s typical of Kevin. He’s usually the first to accuse and the last to get the other side of the story,” Michels said. “Unfortunately, it’s a normal response from Kevin. There’s usually more to the story than what Kevin presents.”

The Mallard Point story
The story of Mallard Point is a complex one.

The subdivision’s original developer, Apex Development Corporation, went bankrupt in 1996 after encountering high groundwater levels in Mallard Point that quickly became an expensive problem. When Apex abandoned the subdivision without installing the necessary drainage or creating the homeowner’s association that was supposed to maintain it, it left behind half-completed houses, residents with flooded basements, farmers with flooded fields and a legal nightmare.

It took 16 years for the issue to get resolved, as a complicated legal standoff took place between the village, the Rob Roy Drainage District, the banks and developers involved, Kane County, the residents and the farmers who lived downstream. Though the 30-inch diameter drainage pipe installed in 2012 resolved the flooding problems for all but a handful of Mallard Point residents, Geary has continued to pursue the issue.

Geary said that there was “something stinky” about the way the village handled the release of MB Financial’s letter of credit in 2003.

The bank came in with the second developer, the James Corporation, and took over the completion of the subdivision in 1996. MB Financial had to submit a letter of credit, guaranteeing the village millions of dollars as security that a list of public improvements, such as roads and sidewalks, would be completed.

When the village released the bank’s letter of credit in 2003 without the bypass storm sewer line being completed, Geary said the village was “deliberately protecting engineering firms, law firms, everybody but the residents.”

Wilson said the charges that he, Michels and the board had acted improperly in releasing MB Financial from completing the bypass storm sewer line are false.

“The question of whether it was a secret thing is baloney,” Wilson said.
The newly released minutes from the April 15, 2003, executive session show that the board met in closed session to discuss threatened litigation from MB Financial—a meeting that was perfectly legal—and that no action was taken in that session.

Wilson explained in an interview that the terms of MB Financial’s letter of credit did not require the bank to complete the drainage line—that responsibility still belonged to Apex, the original developer—but that the village had tried to “strong arm” the bank into completing it anyway by refusing to release its letter of credit.

For a time this appeared to work and MB Financial completed about two-thirds of the drainage line, but when the bank ran into groundwater from an underground aquifer that escalated the cost, it refused to go further and threatened to sue the village unless its letter of credit was released. The village had no choice but to comply, Wilson said, and the May 19, 2003, letter—the one that Geary originally alleged was evidence of “a backroom deal”—documents that acknowledgement to MB Financial.

“They had an absolute right to have that letter released once they completed (everything required by the letter),” Wilson said. “(The board) couldn’t take action in the executive session, and they didn’t have to take action in the open session until the bank asked to have the letter of credit released. The drain tile was not covered by the letter of credit, and everybody knew that at the time. The village knew it, Kevin knew it and the bank knew it.”

The minutes from the 2003 executive session show that Michels asked whether the work had to be completed, and Village Engineer Dave Burroughs of EEI said no, that the drainage work was part of the Rob Roy Drainage District and that not fixing it would only affect the wetland area.

“This drainage area does not affect the current subdivision,” the notes record Burroughs as saying. “Fixing it will not alleviate the sump pumps that run continuously in the Mallard Point subdivision.”

Geary was absent from the meeting that night.

Discord on the board
Village trustee Mari Johnson, who is supporting Michels in the election, said that Geary’s allegations were false and upsetting.

She pointed out that the board had reviewed the release of the letter of credit in open session on Sept. 2 and Sept. 16, 2003, before releasing it, and that Geary had seconded the motion to release the letter of credit.

“When trustee Geary does these things, he’s impugning the integrity of our board, our engineer, our lawyer, every member on the board,” Johnson said. “He’s pointing the finger at himself—he is the village. He wants the people to think that he is on the outside. He keeps saying, ‘the village, the village, the village.’ You cannot serve on the board for 14 years, vote yes on everything, and then make yourself out to be an outsider.”

Johnson said she found Geary’s accusations personally offensive.

“I don’t understand why he’s making this an election issue, and he’s impugned my integrity, because I am the village, and I am not happy about it. If I was sitting on that board and thought that it was not right, I wouldn’t vote yes. I’m upset. Why would you try to make a board that you’ve been part of all this time look bad? What does he have to gain from this? I feel like I’m fed up. Enough is enough.”

Geary was not at the April 15, 2003, executive session and said that he had been misled into thinking that the drainage issues had been resolved at the board meeting on Sept. 16, 2003. The minutes from that meeting show that Geary inquired whether the retention pond at Mallard Point was operating as it was designed to; Burroughs answered that it was. Had he known the drainage issues had not been resolved, Geary said that he never would have voted to release the letter of credit.

“I specifically asked about the drainage, and I wanted to know if the drainage system was working properly so that people’s basements didn’t flood, and I was told yes. So I guess shame on me for not inquiring as to whether, prior to that meeting, there was an executive meeting, and shame on me for not knowing that there was. But that still doesn’t excuse the village for not providing full information at the meeting about the plan to not have the bank put that pipe in.”

He said that even though the board had released the minutes from the 2003 executive session, it still did not answer the question of responsibility.

“So the bank is released from liability for putting that pipe in, so who is responsible?” Geary asked. “If the village was asleep at the wheel and forgot to have the drainage pipe put in the letter of credit, then I believe that the village would be responsible, but then the village got a letter from EEI stating that the pipe didn’t need to go in.”

Michels said that the village had done all it could do to resolve the drainage problems.

“I think the board has done everything in its power to help the residents of Mallard Point and to represent all the residents that it serves,” he said.

The real problem, Michels said, was that Geary simply didn’t remember the details about what happened 10 years ago.

“Kevin is lying in the fact that he says he did not know anything about it. He just probably forgot, but it was approved in open session,” Michels said. “We’ve never done anything to jeopardize the public’s trust in the government. We did not do anything illegal, that’s why we have a council and a village clerk and we keep everything public. I think Kevin’s just not realizing or remembering what actually happened. It wouldn’t be the first time … Kevin has a pretty selective memory.”

Michels also pointed out that he has recused himself from voting on any contract involving EEI to prevent conflicts of interest, but that Geary had voted in favor of every proposal put before the board involving EEI.

Claims of secrecy
Geary also said that the village had withheld documents about Mallard Point from him and that, even as a trustee, he needed to submit Freedom of Information Act requests in order to get copies of emails, letters and other documents related to Mallard Point.

Trustee Rick Montalto said that Geary had been gathering documents about Mallard Point from the village for a long time and was unwilling to let the Mallard Point issue go.

“I know Kevin, I get along with him. I know Sean, I get along with him,” Montalto said. “Any (documents) we want, we can pretty much get. Kevin felt that something was being kept from him personally; he thinks that there’s some big conspiracy theory. He was given all of the emails (between Village officials about Mallard Point), and repeatedly I’ve heard the village attorney say that he’s gotten everything.”

Geary said that all he wanted was the truth.

“I’m all about the truth. If we can get down to what the truth of this matter is, then I’ll be happy,” he said. “I think the village owes it to every one of those residents down in Mallard Point. I still feel that even through this, with the release of the information, we haven’t gotten to the truth. There’s still not a complete picture of what went on down there.”

Geary also countered Johnson’s assertion that he was the village.

“While I have been elected to serve on the board, I am not the village. I am a representative of the people. If that makes me an outcast or someone who is not part of that group, so be it,” he said.

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