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Election 2012: Kane County Coroner

in March 20, 2012 by

Two Republican candidates face each other in the Tuesday, March 20, primary election. The winner will face Democrat Tao Martinez, who is running unopposed, in the general election this fall.

Republicans

L. Robert Russell
Rob Russell’s background as a 20-year veteran of the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office makes him uniquely qualified for the office, he explained.

While many assume that a county coroner’s focus is medically focused, he said that in reality, there is no medical requirement for the office, because all medical functions are outsourced to forensic pathologists and lab professionals. He said that out of the 102 counties in Illinois, only two coroners are doctors, and one more is a medical examiner.

“The role of the Coroner is one of a Peace Officer who is charged with investigating suspicious deaths (on the scene),” Russell said. “What prompted me to run for this position was the fact that I saw the opportunity to serve the citizens of Kane County in an area that closely resembled my strengths. My resume matches the job description for the Coroner’s Office.”

Russell explained that given his experience investigating death as a peace officer, he best understands the laws and procedures of a criminal investigation—specifically issues relating to evidence chain of custody.

He said the number-one issue facing the office currently is a lack of integrity. He said the next coroner must make the office his only priority.

“I will repair the bridges between the Coroner’s Office and other civil service agencies in Kane County,” he said. “I will serve the public with the same vigor I have had as a law enforcement professional.”

Integrity of the office could be further restored if it pursues accreditation, he said.

“I also see much value in accreditation,” Russell explained. “Becoming an accredited office will help solve the problems of the Kane County’s Coroner’s Office by incorporating the ‘best practices’ of agencies across the nation.”

From a facility standpoint, Russell said he understands that there are no funds to build a new morgue. However, he said that there remains a possibility to upgrade the office’s facilities by creating partnerships with other local facilities.

“In addition, by making the morgue an area training facility, we would be eligible for government grant money which could help speed the process along,” Russell said.

Robert Nicholas Tiballi
Robert Tiballi said that annually, there are slightly more than 2,700 cases that involve the Kane County Coroner’s Office. Less than 0.5% of those are homicides, meaning that approximately 2,700 cases are natural, suicide or accidental death.

Given those numbers, he said, his medical background and leadership experience are exactly what the office needs.

“When sworn in as Coroner, I will bring to the position 23 years of experience as a practicing physician, 15 years experience as a founder and administrator of a large medical group, 15 years managing a budget that I not only administer, but also raise capital to fund, and years of supervising and disciplining hundreds of my peers as an elected Chairman of the Department of Medicine of a large local hospital,” Tiballi said.

He explained that the coroner should be ready to supervise a diverse office of professional contractors and support staff while maintaining records accurately. In addition, the coroner must maintain good working relationships with outside agencies and law enforcement officials.

“I will restore focused, purposeful, reasoned and experienced leadership,” he said.

His first order of business would be to begin what he calls a “top to bottom, stem to stern review of all areas of the office including policies and procedures, work roles and assignments, physical equipment assets and reform the working operation of the office within the first two months on the job,” he said.

Tiballi said this office overhaul would include vital intangibles, such as a restoration of ethics and high professional standards that should already exist. Further, he would work to build positive relationships with local law enforcement, fire control and health professionals, which he said have been strained severely.

“Within the first month of taking office, I will meet personally with leaders in each jurisdiction of law enforcement and fire control in every part of the county to re-establish good working relationships,” Tiballi said.

He said that overall, he would combine his business sense with his medical expertise to rebuild the office from the ground up.

“Through much hard work and dedicated service I have seen good ideas succeed,” Tiballi said. “I believe that patience and perseverance conquer all things and I am one of the hardest workers you will ever meet.”

Election 2012: Kane County Circuit Clerk

in March 20, 2012 by

Republicans

Thomas M. Hartwell
Having served on the Kane County Board from 1996-2000, Tom Hartwell is familiar with Kane County Government. As a practicing attorney out of South Elgin for the past 19 years, “the court is my workplace,” he said.

This bodes well for him in his pursuit for a position responsible for the maintenance of all records of the county courts.

“The Circuit Clerk handles court files, manages over 100 employees and works with other elected officials,” Hartwell said. “My abilities, experience and motivations make me uniquely qualified.”

He said his priority would be to better organize the record-keeping system while spending less resources.

“When it comes to wasteful government spending, enough is enough. I will make tough decisions that will help solve the financial fix were in. Kane County can no longer afford the type of old-school leadership that has brought us to the brink,” he said.

He explained that the current Circuit Clerk’s Office is behind in the installation and implementation of an advanced computer system. He would save time, resources, and create opportunity to improve service by fully utilizing technology designed to efficiently and economically manage the court’s records.

“We live in an information age. Kane County court records need to be brought into the new millennium,” Hartwell said. “Advanced computer technology will free up the office’s employees to take on other additional responsibilities, creating an atmosphere organized around timely and cost-efficient customer service.“

He said that upgrading the office’s technological capabilities will allow the court to process cases faster while enabling people outside the court to access public information over the Internet more easily. In effect, this reduced the resources needed to perform the job while at the same time improving service to the public.

The focus on streamlining processes could translate to all areas of county government, he said.

“One ongoing challenge will be our ability to do more with less,” Hartwell said. “If we don’t work smart and if we don’t work together, the slow recovery of our economy will continue to strain the public sector. Maintaining a balanced budget without sacrificing important county services is something that needs to be addressed across the board, regardless of office, in the spirit of reciprocal collaboration.”

Catherine S. Hurlbut
Catherine Hurlbut did not respond to repeated attempts to obtain information for this article.

Karin M. Herwick
Karin Herwick definitely has the most direct experience of what it is like to work in the Kane County Circuit Clerk’s Office. She has worked in various capacities in the office for the past 20 years. Starting as a team supervisor, she continued to take on more responsibility until she became the office’s Chief Operating Officer for the past seven years, including her secondary role as Chief Deputy Circuit Clerk.

“I have been motivated to seek the position of Circuit Clerk because I find public service both rewarding and challenging,” Herwick said. “I would like to continue to be a public servant as your next Circuit Clerk.”

Because of her extensive experience inside the office, she said she would be able to hit the ground running in pursuing her priorities.

Her first area of focus would be to improve online access to records and using innovation to address other areas of customer service. She said she has been actively working to improve public record access through the Circuit Clerk’s website, helping make it user friendly while also protecting personal and confidential information.

She would also focus on transitioning the office from a paper to what she calls a “paper on demand” system would provide many efficiencies and cost savings. She explained that achieving this advancement is more possible with someone already experienced in the office’s functions.

“This requires a comprehensive understanding of manual processes to be able to transition them to new business solutions,” Herwick said. “It also requires training of deputy clerks on the new way of business, as well as working with all Partners of Justice and the public to successfully transition.”

Should the County Board vote to fund a new case management system, Herwick said she is prepared to work with all the impacted parties to ensure that the new system is both accurate and comprehensive.

She said she is uniquely qualified for this role due to her current role and history with the department.

“I have a proven record of being a team player and able to successfully work with people. I will continue to lead in this same manner,” Herwick said.

Election 2012: State Senate 25th District

in March 20, 2012 by

In the race to represent the 25th District of the Illinois State Senate, three Republicans face each other while two Democrats pair off. The winners of their respective primary elections on Tuesday, March 20, will face each other in the general election this fall.

Democrats

Corinne M. Pierog
Corinne Pierog’s background in education, as well as the private sector, has made it clear to her that supporting innovation and education for the workers of today and tomorrow is the way Illinois can turn around its fiscal woes.

Pierog holds two graduate degrees—a Masters of Arts and an MBA.

“Both have given me the necessary training and skills that are vital for developing solid solutions to the myriad of challenges facing Illinois,” Pierog said. “An in-depth knowledge of governmental budgeting, financial forecasting, program assessments, and budget oversight are vital and critical components of good governance.”

Further, her current service on the St. Charles School Board, combined with her experience as a small-business owner, have given her the experience of seeing what the struggling economy has done to Illinois residents, as well as given her ideas of how to help turn the economy around.

“Since 2007, thousands of Illinois’ families have suffered through the debilitating effects of unemployment,” Pierog said. “It is our duty to create both long- and short-term solutions that realistically address the underlying issues of unemployment.”

She explained that a major factor in the loss of Illinois jobs is the decline in the manufacturing sector.

“One of the sources for this decline is our lack of technological preparedness,” she said. “As manufacturers look towards multifaceted technical approaches for cost-saving efficiencies, the average factory worker lacks the skills and training to understand and operate these new technologies.”

She said the state needs to encourage job training opportunities to insure that the state’s workforce is skilled in the latest technological applications and other areas of needs.

Illinois has to start talking about manufacturing as our future, not just something of the past,” Pierog said.

The need for further educational investment extends beyond the manufacturing sector, however. Pierog said that the educational bar continues to rise in the overall job market.

“While a high school education is one of the primary indicators for ending the cycle of poverty, by 2014 most jobs will require at least some post-secondary education. Education funding can either support our families, or slam the door on their economic future,” she said.

Pierog expressed concern with some recommendations for additional state budget cuts to social service agencies. She said that state funding for social service programs are among the lowest in the nation. Rather than focus on cuts that would cause more harm than good, Pierog said the state could budget more effectively and focus on job growth as a two-part plan to help turn the state around.

“I will promote policies that encourage job growth for the people of the 25th District and throughout Illinois,” Pierog said. “We need policies that rid the despondency of our communities. We need to secure a more stable economic future.”

Steven L. Hunter
As a regular citizen of Illinois, Steven Hunter said he decided to run for office because he felt under-represented in Springfield.

“I believe that the government caters to PAC’S and Super PAC’s instead of the people they are supposed to be representing and protecting,” Hunter said.

Additionally, he has seen a lack of progress and in many ways, a regression in the state.

“I look around and see underfunded schools, failing infrastructure and an economic crisis, and I am not comfortable with this,” Hunter said. “I feel it is important for all the people in this state to redevelop the sense of pride in our schools and our state that we once had. I am hoping to do just that.”

He said education and how it is funded is his top priority. He would prefer to see pension funds and 529 college savings plans invested in municipal bond programs that would allow school districts and local governments refinance high-interest construction bonds.

“Reducing the debt load, we will free up capital that can be used for financing the system of public education,” Hunter said. “This would also provide a guaranteed source of fixed rate income to the pension funds.”

Also considered a vital aspect of revitalizing the state is to place a real focus on improving infrastructure as a means to increase job creation.

“Infrastructure improvement will also play a key role in creating jobs and increasing efficiency of small businesses,” Hunter said.

He said that upgrading railroads, bridges, highways and other failing state infrastructure will increase ease in transportation and will make for better business. Paying for the upgrades could be accomplished or aided through the use of various federal grant programs.

While the infrastructure needs are state-wide, he said he does have a local project that he would like to see included in this list of upgrades.

“Specifically in our district, I would like to see the Metra line pushed out from Elburn to DeKalb,” Hunter said. “The purpose of this is to provide an innovative triangle including the students and research professors at Northern Illinois University, Fermilab, and DuPage National Technology Park. This will help to develop the currently stagnant and underutilized Technology Park.”

While that activity works toward rebuilding our state’s educational systems as well as its infrastructure, he said Springfield must also focus its attention on its finances.

“We need to put a moratorium on any new spending and divert all possible new revenue sources towards paying our existing bills,” Hunter said. “It is important that we work with Governor Quinn to take responsibility for our debts.”

The problems are many and steep, but that does not mean they are insurmountable, unless people stop being willing to communicate effectively.

“It is impossible to achieve what needs to be accomplished with bickering and infighting,” he said. “It is time to listen and know the concerns of our citizens.”

Republicans

Dave Richmond
Dave Richmond intends to bring his fiscal conservatism from his current role as Blackberry Township Supervisor to Springfield.

“When I ran for Supervisor, I made one promise—to be fiscally conservative with taxpayer’s money—and I have delivered on my promise,” he said.

He points to two facts from his three years managing the township: 1) the current fiscal health of the township, namely, the facts that Blackberry Township has a balanced budget, no debt, and cash on hand. 2) Blackberry Township has lowered its property tax levy from the maximum for all three years of his tenure.

“That means when residents pay their property taxes, we have kept a few more dollars in their pocket,” Richmond said.

Richmond said the focus he has had on ensuring fiscal solvency in Blackberry Township would continue if he is sent to Springfield to represent the residents in the 25th District.

“Our state must live within its means and that means reforming the budget process,” he said. “The biggest problems we face in Illinois are a lack of efficiency and certainty, coupled with a lack of political will to make tough choices about our budget.”

Richmond cited a study that said the state of Illinois lost 800,000 residents between 1995 and 2009. He explained that the Illinois exodus has led to a net loss in income and talent.

“We have become a net departure state. We need to turn Illinois into a destination again,” Richmond said.

He would push to reduce taxes and reform regulations; this would allow current residents to keep more of their income, and would make it easier to establish or expand businesses.

On the state spending side, he said he would push to freeze spending to levels prior to former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s time in office. He would also place a higher focus on departmental efficiency in which each department would be required to justify their work while meeting higher standards for results. Programs that do too little to help should be cut, he said. Furthermore, Richmond said that state entitlement programs should be reformed, and added that he would push to see passage of SB-512, a pension reform bill for state employees.

Adding those components together—reduced tax pressure on residents, loosened regulations for businesses, significant spending cuts and entitlement reform—would reverse the trend in Illinois, leading to growth in residency and jobs, in Richmond’s view.

“I want jobs returned to my district and the state, I want honesty to be the watchword of the day, and I want people to be in control of their own money and destiny,” Richmond said.

Richard C. Slocum
Richard Slocum said he has heard an overwhelming message during his time traveling the 25th State Senate District—Illinois needs to stop its spend and tax mentality. If he has his way, he intends to stop it.

“My role will be to demand accountability and control of the spending and taxing that has been rampant in Springfield for years,” Slocum said.

Slocum has spent the past 16 years serving on the School Board of the West Aurora School District, the past four as the board president. That, combined with his professional experience as a small business owner, give him significant experience in confronting and solving problems.

“I have developed my skills over years of bringing people together to find common ground and agreement on problems that were very difficult,” he said.

Agreement on problems is something he says does not even exist in the state government.

“What I am not seeing in Springfield is the ability or even the intention to stop spending, reform Medicaid and pension benefits,” he said.

The first thing that must be done is that government spending must be reduced—at every level, Slocum said. The first area he would find a reduction would be in Medicaid. He suggests adjusting the current system into a more managed-care type of program. He would then focus on pension reforms. He said that public pensions need to move toward a system that features greater contributions by its participants, lesser benefits being paid out, and he would consider extending the retirement age. He also said pension plans should offer a defined contribution option that would be similar to a 401(k).

He would then turn his attention to taxes, and his prescription is to reduce them for both corporations and individuals. Further, he said that state tax policy needs to be more predictable for businesses of all size than it has been. That would enable businesses to know how their taxes will be calculated years into the future, which would aid them in their planning.

However, Slocum said it is not enough to merely come up with ideas of how to turn around Illinois’ budget problems. There also needs to be a broader effort to get others to see the problems and work toward finding the right solutions.

“Pressure must be placed on the legislature, all its members, and the executive branch so that they understand the voters will accept nothing less than the expenditures being controlled and the reforms I’ve suggested above being initiated immediately,” Slocum said. “I believe through my experience, both in my small business and 16 years on the West Aurora School Board, that I have the knowledge and expertise to make an impact on the budget disaster in Springfield.”

Jim Oberweis
Jim Oberweis did not respond to repeated attempts to obtain information for this article.

Election 2012: Kane County Board Chairman

in March 20, 2012 by

Two Republicans and two Democrats will face their respective party opponent in the primary election on Tuesday, March 20. The winner of each primary will run against each other in the general election this fall.

Democrats

Bill Sarto
Bill Sarto said that his tenure as the Carpentersville Village President from 2005 to 2009 taught him many lessons that can be directly applied to the role of Kane County Chairman.

“I’m a candidate for the County Board Chairmanship because I believe that my background as a former Village President (Mayor) gives me the experience necessary to perform this job very well,” he said.

He said that prior to becoming village president, Carpentersville was facing significant financial challenges.

“We were able to solve those problems by stabilizing the staff and by implementing tried and true financial principals,” he said.

He said the village brought in new businesses while establishing a long-term plan to resurface streets and sidewalks, as well as adding streetlights. In addition, the village created an Engineering Department, Economic Development Coordinator and a Village Planner, while adding police officers, firefighters and public works employees—all without raising taxes on property owners.

Further adding to the challenge he faced upon taking over as village president were internal conflicts among the Village Board.

“I came into office with a Village Board that was not supportive of me. In fact, they were in many cases hostile,” he recalled. “Even though we did not agree politically, we were able to work together because I provided leadership that they could not disagree with.”

He would apply the lessons learned from his success in Carpentersville to the county to focus on lowering taxes in the county. He said cutting county costs without reducing services could be accomplished by looking at what says are “too many high-priced contracts currently on the county books.

“We have way too many empty buildings in Kane County and vacant parcels of land that are available but are sitting empty,” Sarto said. “This costs all of us too much money for these vacancies to remain on the books as unproductive waste of tax dollars.”

Sarto said that now is the time for Kane County to get directly involved in economic development.

“County government can no longer sit on the sidelines while leaving this very important function up to the local municipalities,” he said. “The cities, towns and villages need our help. The county’s impact fees are killing new development.”

Another way to help Kane County’s economy is to to work to match employer with employees. He said the county should partner with educational institutions to focus on building a highly trained workforce while also supporting job fairs and other ways to reduce unemployment within the county.

“We also need to help find jobs for those who are currently out of work,” Sarto said. “Nothing helps a sagging economy more than a person with a job.”

Sue Klinkhammer
Sue Klinkhammer did not respond to repeated attempts to obtain information for this article.

Republicans

Kevin R. Burns
Kevin Burns believes that his 11 years of serving as Geneva’s mayor gives him the background necessary to take over as Kane County Board Chairman.

“The next Kane County Board Chairman must be a partner with the 30 cities/villages that make Kane County unique,” Burns said. “Moreover, the Chairman must be able to collaborate, cooperate and build consensus with a variety of interests by bringing people together, identifying common challenges and creating common solutions. I have done this, and more, during my tenure as Mayor of Geneva and throughout my professional career with non-profit organizations both large and small.”

He pointed to his mayoral record, consisting of 11 consecutive balanced budgets, streamlined government operations and increased economic development.

“As Mayor of Geneva since 2001, I have succeeded in all areas important to sound management and good governance,” he said.

He said he would put that experience to immediate use to focus on three areas that would, if accomplished, further spur economic development in the county. Burns said his first priority would be to redevelop the Settler’s Hill Landfill to create a Kane County destination that would benefit all residents and business owners. He would work with the County Board to immediately create an 18-month moratorium on the Kane County Road Impact Fee Ordinance, which he said would spur economic development and job creation.

He would also work to use existing resources to re-establish the position of Kane County Economic Development Director. He would structure that position to work with municipal economic development personnel to attract development opportunities throughout the county.

“All three goals can be achieved by working with all parties currently involved in the economic development initiatives that make our communities, and our county, strong and viable,” Burns said. “The Kane County Board understands and, for the most part, has practiced ‘partnership governance.’ However, more can and should be done.”

Understanding that this strategic agenda will require the input of many individuals from throughout the county, Burns said he would institute various ways for everyone to collaborate. He said he would create a quarterly meeting he calls a “Chairman Economic Development Forum” consisting of mayors, village presidents and municipal economic developments teams to gather and meet with the county economic development team to develop broader strategies and ways to work better together. Twice a year, he would hold what he calls a “Chairman’s CEO Roundtable” with Kane County business, civic and nonprofit leaders to also discuss various strategies, as well as ways to ensure “social sustainability for the more than 500,000 people that currently call Kane County home and the hundreds-of-thousands that will move to Kane County in the next 20 years.”

Chris Lauzen
As both a CPA and an Illinois State Senator since 1992, Chris Lauzen said that not only does he have the right combination of private- and public-sector experience to help Kane County navigate this economically difficult time, but he also has the right service-minded philosophy.

“Generally, people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care,” he said.

Lauzen said he made his decision to end his tenure as the Illinois State Senator representing the 25th District in order to run for the Kane County Board Chairman position because he sees solutions to the county’s problems and wants to continue to help.

“(I have) the desire and opportunity to help solve the county problems of escalating property taxes … increasing perception of pay-to-play politics in my home county, and deteriorating morale of taxpayers and county employees as they see the politically-connected ‘few benefit while the grassroots ‘many’ of us stagnate,” Lauzen said. “There is a critical mass of people who want and will work for reform.”

He said he would work to immediately freeze the county property tax levy.

“It makes no sense that our property values are going down, but our property taxes continue to go up,” Lauzen said. “We are being taxed out of our homes, while the Kane County portion of our tax has gone up 50 percent in the past seven years.”

He would also work to end what he calls the “Kane County Culture of Cronyism,” and would focus on implementing “honest, competent administration of county business through information and austerity.”

He would do this by focusing on communication and collaboration, which would help rebuild trust over time. This sense of collaboration would be in the form of partnerships with private industry and educational institutions with ongoing roundtable discussions and employer forums. He would also coordinate infrastructure planning among federal, state and local agencies, as well as developers.

The information that would come from these collaboration forums, as well as feed into them, would also be available at what he calls a “Kane County Cooperative Clearinghouse” website. He said this format would exchange innovative ideas, equipment and services, specifically in the areas of access to capital.

This collaborative effort would also lead to an overall streamlining of the permit process, which would help business development because there would be a predictable, prompt standard of response.

Further, having all municipalities involved in these efforts would “minimize tensions of regional ‘bidding wars,” Lauzen said.

Lauzen said he would sum up his approach to the role of Kane County Board Chairman as follows: “By intensely listening, providing accurate information, treating all people respectfully, gathering consensus around taxpayers’ priorities of limiting the growth of government, restoring trust in pubic institutions, and increasing per capita prosperity in Kane County.”

Election 2012: Kane County Auditor

in March 20, 2012 by

Three Republicans will face each other in the primary election on Tuesday, March 20. No Democrat candidate filed for the primary election.

Republicans

Terry Hunt
When current Kane County Auditor Bill Keck announced his decision to retire, Terry Hunt approached the situation as a lifelong accountant would—methodically.

“My wife and I discussed the opportunity that had been presented, and we talked with our daughter and son-in-law,” Hunt said. “We prayed for guidance, which ultimately gave me the courage and confidence to become a candidate.”

That confidence is based on his 37 years of work as an accountant, his time spent as a CFO in the private sector, as well as his efforts to found, grow and maintain his own small business.

With the confidence of his accomplishments combined with the due diligence of learning more about the details of the office, Hunt learned the broader scope of the office.

“One important factor is that in Kane County, we have an elected auditor,” Hunt said. “To me, that means my primary responsibility will always be to serve the citizens and taxpayers. I will work with the chairman, and the board, and other elected officials and departments, but I will be working for the citizens and taxpayers of Kane County.”

To begin working effectively for the citizens and taxpayers of Kane County from day one, Hunt developed a short-term seven-point approach to improving the office without adding more to the budget.

He would publish the county checkbook online in a user-friendly format. He said that currently, the information is available in .pdf format, but for those who wish to cross reference the information and really dive into the details, the information should be available in a more easy-to-use manner.

Hunt would audit the entire county’s credit card system, review and monitor every county contract, and institute a system that would better monitor checks issued from every county department.

“That is a simple but effective way to improve internal controls,” Hunt said.

Further, he would enhance the existing risk assessment program, coordinate a fraud protection plan, and establish an audit hotline that would provide a way for the public to directly connect with the office of Kane County Auditor.

“The County Auditor is an important job, with a high level of commitment to the citizens and taxpayers of our community,” Hunt said. “I will never take that responsibility lightly.”

Laura C. Wallett
Laura Wallett’s decision to enter county politics was born from a sense of activism. With a philosophy of fiscal responsibility and limited government, she began to attend most County Board meetings and other functions. This enabled her to learn how things currently operate, and she saw an opportunity to help improve the county government when current Kane County Auditor Bill Keck announced his retirement.

Having worked as an accountant for 22 years, Wallet said she has the skills and training necessary to be an effective county auditor.

“My dedication to my profession, through continuing education and practice, gives me the unique skill sets to bring new ideas and increased involvement of the auditor’s office in developing sound financial policy and procedures for the county,” she said.

She plans to apply her background to accomplish three specific goals if elected: modernize the auditor’s office, improve government operations, and increase government transparency.

Wallett said that modernizing the office would improve efficiency throughout the county, and provide a more thorough check and balance.

“An enhanced system of inventory and asset tracking can monitor items purchased with taxpayer dollars more efficiently,” she said. “This can be achieved by enhancing existing accounting software.”

Wallet said that a key component of her job would be to audit county departments to find ways of providing taxpayers with better services and improved controls at less cost.

“The auditor identifies wasteful practices and weak control procedures, and recommends corrective action,” she said.

Wallett would streamline current purchasing procedures to make them less cumbersome, as well as to encourage participation across departments to save money. She would examine special funds that are currently running at deficit spending and provide recommendations on how to prevent them from becoming a burden on future taxpayers. She specified three examples: court security, animal control and circuit clerk funds.

Due to her professional background as an accountant, combined with her personality traits, Wallett feels she is uniquely qualified for the position.

“I am an astute business person, an excellent communicator with superb listening skills, a clear and analytical thinker, consensus-builder, a creative problem-solver and idea generator, and an ethical professional who can be trusted to always operate from the highest level of integrity and act on the strength of my convictions,” she said.

Karl Regnier
Spending the past 16 years as a corrections officer with the Kane County Sheriff’s Department—and the past three as the union’s president—has given Karl Regnier an understanding of the importance of accountability, integrity and team work.

He said those three things are the centerpiece of his campaign, as well as what would drive him if he is elected to office.

“As a public employee, I am accountable to the people of Kane County for ensuring their tax dollars are being spent correctly, efficiently and effectively,” he said. “I will analyze spending and work with department officials to find ways to reduce spending and eliminate unnecessary expenses.”

His experience with the union, and his time as its president, has given him the skills necessary to build a more cooperative environment with the various county departments.

“Teamwork within and between all county officials and offices will help to make a stronger, more effective and efficient county government,” Regnier said. “I will strive to work professionally with each and every elected official so that together we can create a productive and fiscally responsible county government.”

While it is important to work to come together as a team, it is equally important to not be afraid to challenge the status quo, he said.

“I am not afraid to question spending or voice my opinions and concerns when I do not agree with the way something is being done,” Regnier said.

While performing the functions of the auditor’s office, Regnier said he would not allow politics influence his decision-making process. He explained that the auditor’s primary role is to responsibly manage the taxpayer’s money, and therefore integrity is an essential aspect of the person filling that role.

“I have seen a lot of ‘the good ol’ boy network’ in county politics over the years working at the Sheriff’s Office, but I do not operate in that manner and won’t be influenced or bullied into making decisions that aren’t in the best interest of the taxpayers,” he said. “I am honest and up front and will lead the auditor’s office as such.”

Election 2012: County residents to vote on new electric provider

in March 20, 2012 by

by Susan O’Neill
KANE COUNTY—Voters in unincorporated Kane County will vote on a referendum in March that would authorize the county to contract with an electricity provider for residents and small commercial retail customers outside municipalities in Kane County.

According to board member Drew Frasz, there is overwhelming support for the county to negotiate a better rate for electricity for current Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) customers.

“We don’t want to foist it on anyone, but we’re assuming it will pass,” Frasz.

Frasz explained that even if the referendum passes, residents and commercial businesses can opt out of the deal.

Two suppliers, Progressive and Blue Star Energy, approached the county with proposals last year. The Kane County Board initially decided to move forward with Blue Star Energy. However, BlueStar was then acquired by AEP (American Electric Power) and their proposal was subsequently retracted.

“The county has since released another request for proposals, has received five proposals, and those proposals are being reviewed,” Kane County Manager of Resource Conservation Programs Karen Kosky said.

According to Kane County documents, 29 Illinois municipalities, including Elburn and Sugar Grove, voted to adopt a municipality aggregation program during 2011. Both villages were able to negotiate a contract (exclusive of utility charges and taxes) with Direct Energy, for a savings of 23 percent below ComEd’s price.

“The larger the group, the better the discount,” Frasz said.

According to Kosky, there are two potential companies involved in an aggregate program. The first, the municipal aggregation consultant, is the firm that would administer the aggregation program in conjunction with county staff. The second, the electric supply company, would be the one to make a bid on the electricity supply.

If the referendum passes, the county will have the option to move forward to seek bids. If the bids come in higher or the same as ComEd 2012 prices, the county would not enter into a contract. If the county accepts a bid, county staff would hold two public hearings and allow residents the opportunity to opt-out of the program before switching them to the new provider.

Although a new supplier would be providing the electricity, ComEd would still transmit the electricity to county customers, and monthly bills would still originate from ComEd. In addition, customers would still call ComEd for repairs.

“The consumer should realize no difference in electricity supply except the lower rates,” Kosky said.

The electric supply company would pay the consultant. ComEd’s utility fees for transmission of the electricity and taxes would still apply.

Election 2012: MP residents learn about upcoming referendum

in March 20, 2012 by

Voters may allow village to seek bids to lower electricity rates
by David Maas
MAPLE PARK—At a special informational presentation on Tuesday night for the residents of Maple Park, the village brought in Bill McMahon of the Progressive Energy Group, who spoke regarding the upcoming referendum for Municipal Energy Aggregation.

“Illinois has deregulated the energy markets,” McMahon said, “Because of that, competing companies can offer electric power. Municipalities can aggregate, and leverage the residents’ electrical accounts to seek bids for lower rates.”

For Maple Park residents, the first step to do this would be to pass a referendum in the Tuesday, March 20 election.

“The residents are given the chance to vote to allow municipal aggregation,” McMahon said. “19 out of 23 times, these referendums have passed.”

If the referendum is passed, and Maple Park decides to move forward with energy aggregation, Progressive Energy will take competitive bids from energy companies and broker the deal.

Currently, CommonWealth Edison (ComEd) Commercial rates are at $0.078, while municipalities that are aggregated are significantly less.

“In Elburn and Sugar Grove, the current aggregated price is $0.059, North Aurora is at $0.057,” McMahon said, “It is estimated that there could be an annual savings of $175 to $225 per household in Maple Park.”

Should the referendum pass, the way residents receive their power will change minimally.

“Residents would continue to get a bill from ComEd, because they are still legally required to deliver power,” McMahon said. “The change is they are no longer supplying it.”

Because of this, residents will still contact ComEd if there is any problem, such as an outage or a downed power line.

“Residents would have the option to remain with ComEd as their supplier,” McMahon said. “They would be contacted twice to have the ability to opt-out.”

For more information regarding municipal energy aggregation, the Illinois Municipal Aggregation of Electric has an informational website, www.electricaggregation.org.

“By voting ‘yes’ on the March 20 ballot, residents have the change to join 19 other villages in Illinois that have already reduced their ComEd bills by 15 percent,” McMahon said.

Election 2012: Voters asked to approve new tax for police pension on March 20

in March 20, 2012 by

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—On the March 20 ballot, voters will be asked whether or not to authorize the village of Elburn to levy a new tax. This new line item on the tax bill will cover the ongoing expenses of the police pension fund. The village is required by state statute to establish its own retirement fund, now that the village’s population exceeds 5,000 residents. It may not change the pension fund into a 401K or other retirement plan, but must follow the laws established in Springfield.

“Once the census came in, the village is required by law—and that’s in bold print—to establish for and on behalf of the Police Department its own fund, the rules and regulations of which come from state statutes,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”

Prior to the census results, the Police Department, along with every full-time village employee, contributed to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). Police officers contributed 4.5 percent of their salary, and the village kicked in 11 percent of the employee’s salary. Now that the police are required to have their own pension fund, the officers put in 9.2 percent, and the village contributes 21 percent of the officer’s salary. This constitutes an increase that will be ongoing annually. The village is asking the voters to fund it with a new line item. Trustee Jeff Walter said that technically it is not a new tax.

“People should understand that this is not a new tax, only a replacement for the current levy for retirement that is already on the tax bill. The current levy is for IMRF and not downstate, so we have to ask again. If you look at a tax bill for any Elburn resident, you will see a line item for Elburn Village Pension. My understanding is that we can’t use that levy money now that we are in the downstate plan since the levy is for IMRF,” Walter said.

If approved, the line item will be on the tax bill every year for the established amount and will increase 3 percent or the cost of living—whichever is least—in the following years.

If not approved, the village says it will be looking where it can make further cuts.

“When I was elected three years ago, the economy had turned, and the board was faced with difficult cost-cutting decisions. At that time we cut positions, shut down a department and froze wages. Every year since, we have made hard decisions about cutting costs to balance an ever-decreasing income stream. Everything is on the table that can be on the table, and there are no sacred cows. Every line item faces a potential budget cut,” Walter said.

The cuts would come from the general operating fund. The board maintains its position to keep a balanced budget and not create a deficit.

“We are not like the federal government or the state government who feel it’s OK to operate with a budget deficit. The village must present and live within a balanced budget every year, just like you and I do,” Walter said. “There is no magic savings account we can go to for a bail out. Every line item in the budget that is not protected by a contract is subject to a cut.”

The village is limited by contract as to the cuts in the Police Department that they are allowed to make, so cuts will have to come from elsewhere.

“We will again, as we have in the past, consider reducing positions in the Administrative and Public Works departments, training expenses, office supply expenses, vehicle expenses-although we have not purchased or leased a new vehicle since I have been on the board-public service line items like street repair, snow plowing and public land maintenance and mowing. To say that service to the public will be reduced in some fashion is a fair statement,” Walter said. “It will be painful to the board as we make hard decisions and cuts. It will be painful to the staff as they have to absorb whatever cuts are made. Most importantly, it will be painful to the residents as they see services reduced across the village.”

The referendum question
Shall the Village of Elburn, Kane County, Illinois, be authorized to levy a new tax for police pension purposes and have an additional tax based on 0.09533% of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property therein extended for such purposes?
1) The approximate amount of taxes extendable at the most recently extended limiting rate is $659,933.87, and the approximate amount of taxes extendable if the proposition is approved is $822,698.87.
2) For the 2012 levy year the approximate amount of the additional tax extendable against property containing a single family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $31.78.

Final day for voter registration is Feb. 21

in March 20, 2012 by

KANE COUNTY—Kane County Clerk John A. Cunningham is reminding Kane County residents that Tuesday, Feb. 21, is the last day to register to vote for the March 20 general primary.

The County Clerk’s office is open for registration, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Most libraries, municipal and township offices in Kane County will accept registrations until Feb. 21.

“Grace period” registration is an extension of the period of time for a voter to register, or to update their registration information. Once registered, the voter may cast a ballot during the grace period at the Kane County Clerk’s Office only, from Wednesday, Feb. 22, to Tuesday, March 13. Two forms of current identification are required.

Registration will resume on Thursday, March 22.

The Kane County Clerk’s Voter Registration Office is located in Building B at the Kane County Government Center, 719 S. Batavia Ave. (Route 31) in Geneva. To register, a person must be a United States citizen, 18 years old on or before the date of the election, a resident of the precinct for 30 days prior to the election, and provide two forms of identification—one of which shows their current name and address.

Kane County residents may check their registration online by going to www.kanecountyelections.com, clicking the “Are you registered?” tab and following the directions on the page.

For additional information, call the Voter Registration Office at (630) 232-5990.

April 5, 2011 Election Results

in April 5, 2011/Featured by

Updated April 6, 2011 @ 1:25 p.m.

Elburn Village Board
Richard C. Garcia 165
Audrey Symowicz 262
William C. Grabarek 387
David J. Gualdoni 275
Ethan Hastert 410
Sugar Grove Village Board
David Paluch 634
Kevin Geary 551
Mari Johnson 526
Mark Buschbacher 467
Kaneland School Board
Tony Valente 1,056
Joe Oberweis 1,298
Teresa Witt 1,235
Deborah L. Grant 945
Patrick M. Denlinger 863
Gale E. Pavlak 1,235
Pedro Rivas 591
Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District
James R. Feece 569
Christopher Garon 209
Brian Schopp 770
Sugar Grove Fire Protection District
Michael J. Fagel 830
John J. Guddendorf Jr. 410
John Shea Lehman Jr. 610
Ronald C. Hain 332
Shall the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, Illinois, borrow money and issue general obligation bonds in the amount of $30,000,000.00 … all in accordance with the purposes authorized by the Downstate Forest Preserve District Act of the State of Illinois, as amended?
Yes 17,090
No 14,849
Shall the Village of Elburn have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such program?
Yes 415
No 161
Shall the Village of Sugar Grove have the Authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such program?
Yes 523
No 342
Shall the debt service extension base under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for the Village of Maple Park … for payment of principal and interest on limited bonds be established at $91,100 for the 2011 levy year and all subsequent levy years, such debt service extension base to be increased each year by the lesser of 5% or the percentage increase in the consumer Price Index during the 12-month calendar year preceding the levy year?
Yes 60
No 97

Complaint line to be open for April 5 election

in April 5, 2011 by

Kane County—Kane County voters who observe or experience voting problems or irregularities during the Tuesday, April 5, consolidated election should call the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office to report the problems.

Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon has established the Election Complaint Line, which will be available from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 5.

Anyone who experiences or witnesses any possible illegal election activity, such as electioneering, illegally placed campaign signs or denial of voting rights at any of Kane County’s 228 voting precincts should call the hotline at (630) 208-5328.

The hotline will be staffed by representatives of the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office. Assistant State’s Attorneys will take the complaints about potential violations of Illinois election laws and are prepared to travel to polling places to ensure compliance with state election laws.

“Everyone wants an honest, fair, orderly election,” McMahon said. “My staff will be available to all who have concerns.”

Voters should note that this hotline is not for election questions, such as polling times and places. Voters in need of election information should call the Kane County Clerk’s Election Help Line at (630) 232-5990. Eligible voters must be registered, a United States citizen and at least 18 years old.

Q&A: Sugar Grove Fire Protection District

in April 5, 2011/Sugar Grove by

Note: Voters can select up to two candidates.

Candidates for Sugar Grove
Fire Protection District

Name: Michael J. Fagel
Age: 58
Education and employment background:
Education: University of Nebraska, 1974, AA Fire Protection and Criminal Justice; University of Nebraska, 1975, BS Criminal Justice; Columbia Southern University, 1995, MS Occupational Safety
Experience: 35 years public safety, fire, EMS, emergency management, 10 years FEMA reservist, World Trade Center attacks, Oklahoma City Bombing, Olympics. EMS officer in North Fire Department, Aurora, 28 years; Kane County Local Emergency Planning Committee Vice Chair and Chairman (volunteer) in the 1990s, teaching emergency planning at several area universities (NIU and Northwestern), working emergency planning for DHS/FEMA operations support. Published numerous articles and texts on emergency planning, and related operations. Have been in the Mideast developing emergency management operations as well. U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Soldier Biological Chemical Command, 2004-2007.

Name: John J. Guddendorf Jr.
Candidate did not respond.

Name: John Shea Lehman Jr.
Age: 46
Education and employment background: Bachelor of Science—Fire Service Administration, Southern Illinois University; Board Treasurer/Trustee Sugar Grove Fire Protection District; 1987-present: Aurora Fire Department Deputy Chief; 1985-87: Volunteer LaGrange Park Fire Department.

Name: Ronald C. Hain
Age: 34
Education and employment background: Graduate of St. Charles High School, 1994; Associates Degree in Criminal Justice, Waubonsee College, 1997; Professional experience: Full-time local Deputy Sheriff for 12 years.

How would you define
the role of your office?

Fagel: As a member of the board of trustees of the Sugar Grove Fire Protection District, the main roles are that of helping to ensure that the district can appropriately function within its prescribed mandates and revenue base to provide customer service to the residents that dial 911 for emergency and support services.
It is about husbanding the assets for the betterment of the community, and also maintaining effective training, staffing and appropriate equipment so that the members of the response community can safely and efficiently perform their duties to serve the residents.
Some of the key issues also include governance, taxes, compliance with various mandates. The role is supportive of the entire process, which will help the organization function efficiently, within its means and for the public good

Lehman: Trustee of the Fire District—attend monthly scheduled board meetings and special meetings when necessary. As a trustee I am required to work with the team to set and review policy and govern the budget process. Additional duties would include approving the disbursement of funds and ruling on disciplinary issues. The board is responsible to look to the future growth of the district and plan for development and emergency response. Negotiations of collective bargaining agreements add to the many roles of a trustee on the Fire District.
I have personally served as the treasurer for the majority of my last term as well as the treasurer of the firefighters pension board.

Hain: Qualified, objective coordination and support of Fire District personnel and the citizens who they serve.

What are the top three priorities
you would focus on if elected,
and how would you address them?

Fagel: Ensure the staff has appropriate equipment and training to continue to provide excellent customer service in the community.
Ensure continued service for fire suppression, emergency medical services and other services that are needed by the community in accordance within the fiscal constraints of the current economy.
Develop long-range planning goals and guidance to guide the future of the Fire Protection District for the health and safety of its emergency responders and the citizens they serve.

Lehman: I would concentrate on balancing a 2012 budget. With the aid of forecasting software, we have a great tool to use in this challenging economy. Revenues are down, and our employees have agreed to concessions from top to bottom. Our CBA has just been ratified, and insurance and wages were top items addressed. We have to be very creative in order to maintain the service level that the citizens of our district are paying for. The trick is to not affect our ability to move forward when the economy gives us the ability to do so.
Long-range planning is critical for our success. We need to concentrate on short-, medium- and long-range goals, and when development picks back up and the demand for service of the newly developed areas increases, we need to be ready to provide it.
Develop a succession plan for the current administration in order to facilitate a smooth transition of administration. The current chief is doing a tremendous job, but he will not be around forever, and we need to make sure we are prepared for that eventuality.

Hain: Human resources; support and proper direction of fire district personnel by way of fair labor contracts and appropriate of fund distribution.
Balancing the size of the Fire Department with the dynamics of a growing community; the village of Sugar Grove has focused on building commerce. As a Fire District trustee, I must be in tune with the direction of the community to ensure the Fire Department adapts to the needs of the people they serve.
Supporting the growth and operations of the Fire Department; within the last decade, the population of the village has more than doubled. With that, the Fire Protection District has developed a full-time fire service commingled with paid-on-call fire fighters that were the basis of its function prior to the growth. My goal is to focus on the development of our full-time professionals while involving the support of the paid-on-call personnel.

What prompted you
to seek this position?

Fagel: Sugar Grove is my home, and I would like to make a difference in my own community.
I am deeply concerned about the shrinking economy and the ability to fund operations and continue to provide essential critical service for our community. I have been trained in emergency services, and want to bring something back home. I have taught at and studied fire and ambulance operations from coast to coast, and worldwide, and can share ideas from numerous vantage points that I have been exposed to in my career. It is my humble wish to bring the lessons home to strengthen our community, which is a goal I have always had, as a first responder.

Lehman: This will be my second six-year term if re-elected. I have institutional knowledge and 26 years of experience in the fire service. Community service is very important to me, and I feel that by taking an active role in your community you can help to make positive changes.

Hain: I have been involved in the Sugar Grove community as a volunteer with the Park District and elementary school. I have a deep sense of pride for the region the Fire District serves and have lived in the area for 32 years. I wish to expand my service to the community and see this position as a unique opportunity.

How do you plan
to achieve your goals?

Fagel: Sharing of scarce resources would be a key factor in reasonable economic prudence moving forward in these uncertain times. We might examine and enter into joint purchasing arrangements with other local and neighboring entities to save on bulk costs, fuel, utilities, as well as other durable goods and supplies that are not unique to the emergency services sector.
Other avenues must be explored with an open mind and an eye to the future as well. People nationwide have been struggling with the cost of health care and other fringe benefits; these must be examined as well to make sure that the staff is adequately cared for appropriately, while looking for economic reality in the face of decreasing revenues from all sources.
Vehicle and front-line equipment functionality are keys to the successful operational readiness of the organization to respond as necessary. Vehicle replacement and maintenance schedules must be constantly evaluated to provide efficient and needed equipment to support the members of the department safely, while responding to the community’s needs of life safety and property protection. Equipment rentals and other expenditures may need to be evaluated as needed to maintain an effective response organization.

Lehman: I will use my skills as a good communicator and my ability to work well with the other board members to collectively solve the issues of the district. I will stay current and knowledgeable on the budgeting process and the economic and market conditions which will influence many of my decisions as a board member.

Hain: As a public servant, I feel the most important task is listening. Listening to Fire District personnel needs, community concerns, and community leaders’ goals. From the understanding of everyone’s position, I would seek the ultimate goal of making the most sound and objective decisions in the people’s best interest.

Why are you the best candidate
for this position?

Fagel: Over 30 years’ experience in public safety, emergency services, 28 years as volunteer fire department member and officer, emergency manager, 10 years in law enforcement, 10 years as Reservist for FEMA/DHS (deployable asset) to Oklahoma City bombing, hurricanes, floods, World Trade Center attacks, Salt Lake City, US Olympic Public Safety Command (UOPSEC) 2002. Served as Intelligence Analyst, National Guard Bureau CERIAC Desk, created emergency operations centers in the Middle East, and have a sincere desire to bring my training and experience to my own community.
I helped develop the emergency tornado siren system for the village of Sugar Grove in 1999, as well as authoring their first approved disaster plan in 2007. Also, I spent 25 years as the truck fleet manger for a 100-vehicle North Aurora firm, and have a working knowledge and understanding of maintenance, finance, labor, insurance and human resource issues as well.

Lehman: I have an unconditional desire to serve our community and can offer well-rounded experience in all aspects necessary to represent the community’s and department’s needs. I can offer leadership experience, working knowledge from having served on the board, and a knowledge base related to the district, state and national interests.

Hain: I am a young and enthusiastic candidate with a strong desire to serve the Sugar Grove area. I have no current or previous attachments to the Fire Department that would obstruct my clear decision-making ability. I am a career servant in the public safety sector who has always sought new and dynamic tactics to achieve the best results for the community I serve.

Q&A: Sugar Grove Village Board

in April 5, 2011/Sugar Grove by

Candidates for
Sugar Grove Village Board
Name: David Paluch
Age: 45
Education and employment background:
BA-Columbia College. Currently employed by Verizon Wireless. I have been in outside sales with business and government since 1996

Name: Kevin Geary
Age: 47
Education and employment background:
College of DuPage and Waubonsee Community College course work in General Studies, Electronics, and Real Estate. Over the last 31 years, I have held a number of professional positions, from technical training specialist to customer service representative to quality control process and metric engineer to currently a real estate broker/owner. With my diverse background, I would like to bring my quality, customer service, and business experiences to the table and apply my outstanding business skills to our village projects and programs.

Name: Mari Johnson
Age: 53
Education and employment background:
Education: St. Edward High School, Elgin, Ill., class of 1976; College: Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics, 1979; Illinois Benedictine College (Benedictine University), Lisle, Ill.
Employment: Currently employed as trustee for the village of Sugar Grove. I am a wife and mother. I also perform a variety of volunteer work in Sugar Grove and the Kaneland area.

Name: Mark Buschbacher
Age: 44
Education and employment background:
Education: BS Marketing, Illinois State University
Employment: Director Human Resources Patterson Dental Supplies Inc., North America—12 years

How would you define
the role of your office?

Paluch: The position of trustee has many roles. Our main responsibility is to ensure that we make decisions which will benefit the citizens of our town. These responsibilities include keeping the village financially stable, making smart business decisions regarding which businesses or housing developments come into Sugar Grove, approving infrastructure projects, and our main concern is to provide a better quality of life for our residents.
Another important role is to allow our citizens the opportunity for their issues to be addressed, listen to their concerns, and be accountable to the residents. Any elected official is a servant of the people, and in order to lead you must serve and listen.
The other position is to lead by example and get involved with the community through volunteer work outside of village hall. I feel it’s critical for any trustee to get involved in community projects, and encourage others to help make Sugar Grove a better town.

Geary: I see the position of the village official as a two-part role, with the first part as a resident representative and second as a policy maker. This is based on my belief that the village functions as a service/regulatory organization.
As a representative of the residences, our job is to bring their issues, concerns and desires to the board for consideration, deliberation and hopefully a common sense solution.
As a policy maker, the board collectively sets goals and objectives for the village while creating necessary policies to get that work done. The staff are the people in charge of getting the work done.

Johnson: As a trustee, I am in service to my community. The position entails policy-making, decision-making, financial analysis for the entire village. The Village Board works to keep Sugar Grove moving forward with the creation and review of ordinances, subdivision review, business review, oversight of budgets, capital projects and general services. We strive to provide our residents with the services they need within budgetary constraints. We are continuously working to ensure that residents are provided a safe and pleasant environment to live and raise their families.

Buschbacher: I believe the role of village trustee is strategic—in the sense that it stays in line with the goals of the town. I firmly believe that running Sugar Grove would be no difference than running a business. Accountable to the shareholders (in this case the taxpayers). The village trustee needs to stay true to the mission statement, providing the basic services to your community and citizens and staying fiscally responsible.
Think “outside the box”. They also need to be on the forefront of growth and how that growth impacts several sectors: infrastructure, schools, retail and commercial development, but most of all, how these critical aspects affect the overall tax base. There has to be a constant consciousness of overall balance. Too strong of a focus in one general area will throw the entire budgeting process out.

What are the top three priorities
you would focus on if elected
and how would you address them?

Paluch: 1. I support smart and balanced growth for business and commercial development. Bringing in businesses that make sense for the village will bring additional tax revenues, which will help fund village projects and the Kaneland school system. Being on the Planning Commission, I know that businesses are very interested in coming here, and I am willing to listen to anyone who’s interested in investing in Sugar Grove, providing it makes sense to the village.
When it comes to housing development, I would want to see the 450 vacant lots we have today developed before any new development starts. Bringing in roof tops is important to entice business opportunities, and I also believe that the right business opportunities will help bring in roof tops. The Route 47-Interstate 88 interchange will help down the line, but this project may take years to complete.
2. We must improve the public safety in our village, specifically the need to repair streets, sidewalks and sewer/water systems in the west and east side of town south of routes 30/56. I have seen these crumbling streets, poor sidewalks and flooding issues that need improvements.
3. It’s also very important that our residents know they have a voice in the government, and that they will have an understanding that their government will listen to them. Part of that plan includes open and honest government, and the residents will have an opportunity to know what’s going on with their village. I know the village is working on finalizing an agreement with MediaCom, and it’s my goal to have every Village Board meeting broadcast on the public access channel. For the residents who don’t have cable, I would love to see the village utilize the latest in technology and have the meetings broadcast over the internet. It would be great if that technology could be utilized to the point where residents could e-mail or Skype in questions to the board in real time. If someone can’t make it to a meeting, they can still participate by using the latest in technology to keep informed of the issues. Utilizing Facebook, Twitter, and any other social or media outlets, this will enable our residents to keep informed. Using this technology will put us on the cutting edge of bringing 21st century technology to the residents.

Geary: 1. As a village trustee, I have listened to what you, the taxpayer, have to say and have successfully worked on your behalf to get the job done and will continue to work for you. Continue to champion the causes for all residents by making myself available and listening to their concerns.

2. Promote business growth within the village, to increase the amount of retail, office, and industrial tax base, which offers no negative impact to our School District, as well as to the village’s infrastructure. To use innovative and creative thinking to find ways to incentivize businesses (job growth) to relocate to Sugar Grove, and work with the board to get those incentives approved.

3. Keeping the village financially sound while continuing to provide the necessary services to our residents. Continue to scrutinize the budget and hold the line on spending for capitol items, such as village vehicles and see if we can’t get more service out of the vehicles before having to replace them. This is only one example.

Johnson: A. To continue to remain fiscally responsible, while providing the necessary services that the community has come to expect. This would be police and public safety, water, sewer, street maintenance, snowplowing, garbage removal, building permits and inspections, planning and zoning etc.
B. Future infrastructure repairs to streets, water and sewer needs, street lights and building maintenance. Being able to plan for these needed upgrades will be a key priority. The economic downturn has made future funding of capital repairs and purchases more precarious. It will take careful planning and creative funding to be able to accomplish these capital needs.
C. Diversification of the tax base will continue to be a priority. By looking to grow our tax base in the areas of commercial, retail and industrial businesses, we will be able to generate tax dollars for the community without adding the burden of additional residents. If these businesses are retail in nature, we will also have the benefits of sales tax revenue in addition to the property taxes. By diversifying our tax base, we will also be benefiting the Kaneland School District with additional tax revenue and no students.

Buschbacher: Given the economic climate and the fact that the budget is balanced (for now), what are the main priorities of the village. What has been accounted for in the budget for road repair? I can tell you there is no money going for road replacement, only patching. That tells me we don’t have enough funds in road repair. We will need to seek out grants for road repairs to budget two years out on replacement, or more cost cutting measures will need to be taken.
Revenue generating: We need to seek out not only cost cutting ideas, but what revenue generating ideas can the village do? One thought is to look into red light cameras; we have a great amount of “passer through” traffic in our town. With a limited police force, we have the ability to enforce violators through the assistance of cameras.
Challenge the current board to think “outside the box.” I think the current trustees on the board have been complacent. I think some of the challenges that face the village in the near future will better define the trustees’ position. I think with my strong business background and leadership, I can bring a challenge to the mundane thinking of “this is how we have always done it.” If we don’t start demanding more of the leadership on the Village Board and holding them more accountable, then we should start thinking on why this is a paid position. In the business world, board members are held accountable, if they are not … then they are replaced.

What prompted you
to seek this position?

Paluch: I have always had an interest in politics and democracy. This is why we are the greatest nation on earth, where any citizen can have the opportunity to participate in their government. I have attended nearly every board meeting for the past three years, because I wanted to know what our government was doing to help out the residents.
I first ran two years ago because I wanted to see the village be more aggressive in getting businesses into town, and helping ease the tax burden off the residents. I am very happy to see that over the past two years, the village has been moving in the right direction and bringing in several businesses into town. Over the past two years, we have seen many small businesses make their home in Sugar Grove, and I know several more are coming. I decided to run again because I know I can utilize my knowledge of working with businesses and government to keep Sugar Grove moving ahead. I have developed a great relationship with the current board members, Village President Sean Michaels, as well as the department heads.

Geary: I enjoy serving our community, and believe it to be the highest honor to represent the citizens of Sugar Grove and being able bring their issues, concerns and desires to the board for consideration and deliberation and hopefully a common-sense solution.

Johnson: I was prompted to seek this position in 1995. I had been attending almost all village board meetings and committee meetings as a local reporter for five years, and I was very involved in the Sugar Grove Community Club, Sugar Grove Library Friends, served on various committees, and worked on Corn Boil. The many residents that I came in contact with through my volunteerism asked me to serve my community as a trustee. They appreciated my dedication and the knowledge that I had of the village. That service to my community is what still prompts me to run for another term in office.

Buschbacher: My wife Marcy and I chose to move to Sugar Grove from Aurora to raise our family. We love the area and have become active in the community. Sugar Grove has a lot to offer any family. I became more aware of our surroundings at the start of the economic downturn. It was shocking to see all these residential developments go under. The wind was taken out of our sail…
With a heavy business background, I began to learn as much as I can in the development stages of the town. I kept thinking about what brought my family to Sugar Grove—a hidden gem of a location, a sense of a community on the rise and retail/commercial would help offset some of the already heavy residential tax burdens. I really began to think what was slowing the process down? I’ve had conversations with Village President Sean Michels, and he liked some of my ideas as well as my enthusiasm. At that time I decided to run for trustee.

How do you plan
to achieve your goals?

Paluch: In order to achieve these goals, we need to communicate. It’s critical to keep the residents up to date on the issues, and to listen to their concerns. It’s also important to build business partnerships with the developers who want to come here, providing they will bring something of value to the community. We have to erase the old stigma the village has of being difficult to work with in regards to bringing in new business and residential development. I have seen that the village has been more flexible when dealing with developers, and we need to eliminate the perceptions of our village.
I can also achieve my goals by building trust between the residents and their government. It is important, and having many avenues for open communication will help establish that trust. You need to lead by example, and do what you sat you’re going to do. In an open dialogue with the residents, it’s important to be honest with them, even if the answer is something they may not like, it’s important to let them know. I know they’ll appreciate the honesty.

Geary: The plan I would use to achieve the goals in representing the residents is by continuing to listen to what they have to say, and identifying how the village can assist them in resolving their issues and then working synergistically with the board to get it done.
Economic growth: I have made several growth-minded proposals to village staff as well as board members on how Sugar Grove can attract additional business to town. The proposals made would offer incentives with the use of property tax abatement. Because not every business generates sales tax, the village could offer a property tax abatement program for any business willing to relocate to Sugar Grove and creates a certain number of jobs for a set period of time.
This solution addresses a number of issues the village currently faces. First of all, this solution incentivizes businesses to relocate to Sugar Grove, filling already-built space and/or requiring new space to be built (growth).
Second, as part of the business relocation program, this increases the village’s daytime population that will drive other businesses to open up in town and potentially create more jobs (growth). Lastly, my belief is business owners and their employees will want to choose to live in Sugar Grove and will create a market for buying up the available real estate and could create a demand for new construction (growth).

Johnson: I plan to achieve our goals by working in cooperation with the other board members and our village staff. We work together with a give-and-take dialogue on issues facing the village. We made the move many years ago to do away with the separate committees and formed a Committee of the Whole. This Committee of the Whole process has allowed all trustees to have information in all areas. No one is left out. This allows for full understanding of the various departmental issues that come before the board.
As a member of the Village Board, I do not make any promises to anyone about a project/issue, as it is not my sole decision. I can only promise that I will work diligently to know the facts, argue my points and make the best decision on behalf of the entire village of Sugar Grove.

Buschbacher: My first initiative would be to have a SWOT analysis of the village strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats, with all board members present. All businesses need a clear understanding of what they are good at and what are the potential dangers.
Although the board has acted fairly conservative in the last 10 years, what have we missed out on in the development opportunities? This is the time when the board takes a strong look at itself. It becomes a strong strategy session where each member is held accountable to the vision and direction of the village. It also holds members accountable to the strategic initiatives and identifies strengths of each board member.

Why are you the best candidate
for this position?

Paluch: I have attended nearly every board meeting for the past three years, and even though I don’t have the experience as the two incumbents, Kevin and Mari, I do have an understanding of the issues, and what the village is doing to resolve them. I felt it was important to keep up to date on the issues even after I did not win two years ago. I know it’s important to know what’s going on in the village, and I have shown a dedication to this job.

Geary: I am the best candidate for the job because I make myself highly accessible to the people I serve, whether it’s at a Sugar Grove Corn Boil meeting, visiting the library, Chamber of Commerce meeting, picking up groceries at one of our local stores, or getting a soda pop at one of the local gas stations. I am always ready to listen to what the people of Sugar Grove have to say.
In addition to being a really good listener, I have a wealth of business experience from a pretty diverse background of jobs that the village and its residents can benefit from. From my past, I have been a process and metrics engineer, which measures the effectiveness of processes and identifies problem areas. I have been a customer service representative, so I understand outstanding customer service. Lastly, I’m a business owner in our community, and I believe I understand what the businesses need to be successful in Sugar Grove.

Johnson: I am the best candidate for the job because of my experience, knowledge and passion for my community. I am a strong woman, confident in my abilities and my opinions, and I bring that much-needed woman’s perspective to the table. I am not afraid to question things and I do not shy away from making tough decisions. Yet, while being able to make my case in an argument, I can also see the other side. I understand the importance of cooperation and compromise while serving on the Village Board. I want residents to know that what is first and foremost in my mind when making decisions is the welfare of the entire Sugar Grove community.

Buschbacher: I think my business background makes me the best candidate. I’ve been involved with private and publically held businesses who have grown organically, restructured, brick and mortar (through acquisitions). Regardless of the business objective, shareholder value was the number-one concern. I don’t find this to be any different in the case of Sugar Grove citizens. They pay taxes and demand basic services.
The village trustee must be able to deliver this to the citizens regardless the obstacles. I believe I bring more strategic and business acumen to the position, a piece that is missing with the current candidates.

With our current struggling economy,
should Sugar Grove change
its short and long-term plans,
and if so, how?

Paluch: We are fortunate enough to be operating at a surplus, and we are projecting a surplus for next year, so the answer is no. We should continue on with our plans, and keep focused on how we make it even better for our residents.
The short-term goals include: keeping the budget balanced, fixing the flooding issues at Mallard Point, continue working on street and sidewalk repairs, working on the IGA with Kaneland, replacing the trees that were destroyed by the Emerald Ash Borers, which nearly 33 percent were in the Windsor subdivision, continue providing a high quality of service with reduced staffs, and encouraging new business to come to town
The good news is many of these projects have been funded by either grants or approved on the budget. We won’t need to raise taxes or issue bonds to help fund these projects. In addition, we are working with new water rates because they were not covering the expenditures for providing water service.
The long-term goals are also important to our success; the interchange at Route 47-Interstate 88, the project to expand Route 47 from Yorkville to Sugar Grove. Both of these projects will include state and federal agencies, and it will take time to get the projects started and funded, but they are very important issues.
We are also working on connecting bike paths throughout the communities in Sugar Grove, building new facilities for police and public works, and completing our home development. Another goal is to encourage the utilization of green technology for homes and businesses. By exploring the applications of wind, and solar, recycling rain water, and incorporating green roofs in new buildings, we could lead the way for other communities to follow our example, and help set us apart from every other suburb.
I would also like to see new home developers incorporate some affordable housing for those with special needs. There are residents here that want to have independent living, but they can’t afford a new home in the area. I would like to see something that will allow them to live in a safe neighborhood and have their families close by.

Geary: I would like to address this question in this way: The economy that we’re facing today is a much different economy than the past, and trying to utilize the older antiquated methodologies of the past will not get the job done. I also believe the Village Board needs to re-evaluate its approach to all projects and procedures, looking for the greatest value for the taxpayer’s dollar. A great example of this was a project from last year that came in below budget, and the board identified an additional project that was shelf ready. We were able to get that project done as well for the same dollars that we had earmarked to spend on a single project. I believe this is a great use of village resources to complete projects.

Johnson: I believe that we have already made modifications to our goals. Now, the major focus is to accomplish the necessary services for the community and do it by staying within our means. I think that is what our citizens want. They want the assurance that we are not overspending and that we will work to make the difficult financial decisions to keep the village on solid ground. In order to keep providing the services our residents expect, we have had to amend our thought process for long-term goals.
There are not as many projects waiting in the wings. We have pushed back the purchase of various vehicles and equipment. We will have to be very selective in choosing which streets will get the funding for repairs. We will have to delay implementing a comprehensive land use plan update. We are also pushing back the update of the citizen survey, bike plan implementation and other beautification projects. These are just a few of the bigger projects we had on a long-term list. But these decisions are no different than the tough decisions being made in homes throughout the community. We must first address our needs, and as funding becomes available, we can then begin to focus on our wants.

Buschbacher: We can start by defining the trustee position and what role it plays to the citizens of Sugar Grove. The current board has already forced itself to change, they just aren’t telling the citizens. Residential was the short-term vision, and the only vision. There was so much emphasis put on residential that commercial/retail and infrastructure was put secondarily.
What the village is now faced with is undeveloped subdivisions that have been vacated by developers/missed opportunities for issuing letters of credit and no commercial or retail tax base to rescue it. The direction of Sugar Grove will hinder on this election. Voters will decide if the current incumbents over the last 12 to 16 years have guided and directed the village of Sugar Grove residents accordingly.

The Kaneland School District
connects Sugar Grove to a number
of neighboring communities.
How should Sugar Grove help foster
a spirit of cooperation among them?

Paluch: To start, I want to emphasize how the schools are already bringing the communities together. John Shields School is being used for church services for St. Katherine Drexel; it hosts book sales, Holidays in the Grove, and it’s used as a cooling station for the Corn Boil.
The high school brings communities together with sports, plays, concerts, art fairs, etc. The intergovernmental agreement is something that the surrounding communities work together on to make sure we are supporting the school system in these tough economic times.

Geary: I believe that each municipality associated through Kaneland School District has an obligation to develop responsibly and to not unreasonably burden another governmental agency such as school, fire protection, library etc. In the case of Sugar Grove, this is why I continue to propose developing more of our commercial properties. By developing in this manner, we will generate property tax dollars and at the same time not put a single student in the school system. This will also bring balance to Sugar Grove’s development types, residential versus commercial (retail, office, industrial) development.
While I am a strong proponent of intergovernmental agreements, I also require of those agreements the need for accuracy of their calculations and that the requirements are reasonable. The measure I use is, “is this agreement fair and equitable to all parties involved?” I would like to see a round table at least once a year as an open forum to have free exchange of ideas and share issues, concerns and solutions.

Johnson: The village of Sugar Grove already works to be cooperative with the other municipalities in the Kaneland School District. The village president and administrator participate in meetings on a regular basis with representatives of the School District and the municipalities. They share the concerns that are facing their respective communities. This has been an ongoing process.
The village also has an annual round-table meeting of all of the taxing bodies within the village. At this meeting, all of the taxing bodies give updates of their situations. We have been doing these meetings for seven years.
Another way that the spirit of cooperation is achieved is through acknowledgement of our similar situations. This is accomplished in a less-formalized setting. Through the many volunteer organizations that I participate in, I come into contact with a variety of Kaneland area residents. Just chatting and sharing conversation, allows for a level of cooperation. It provides insight into what they may be experiencing in another part of the district.

Buschbacher: As we venture into the next four-year term of trustee, it is imperative that the surrounding towns build synergies on cost-saving items. Budgets will need to continually be stretched, where there are cross-over in resources/capital equipment, etc. We will need to look into and adapt, opportunities to have neighboring leaders along with school superintendent come together and have a focus session on the development of our schools.
Once an overall goal has been established, then each neighboring town is held accountable through action planning. The first step is getting them all together and creating a plan.
When has this been done? We need to think “outside the box.” Change is coming and the question is, are we ready for it?

What should Sugar Grove
do to help expand its economic base?

Paluch: As part of the planning commission, we approved the plans for McDonald’s to come to town. They are scheduled to start construction in early April, and will provide nearly 100 full- and part-time jobs. This will help open the door for other big name businesses to come to Sugar Grove. Some of the companies that have expressed interest coming into town include Walgreen’s, and Malloy Brown wants to open a center for brain injury and head trauma. The new center will provide 100 full time jobs. Adding this center could inspire a hotel to be built nearby. Producers Chemical is looking at moving to Sugar Grove. Scot Industries is looking to expand their building, which will add more jobs. The work has already begun on bringing in a new gas station/sports bar across from Waubonsee. Within the next few weeks, a new bank will be opening, and I would like to see a family restaurant, a pet store and a hardware store come to town.
The village has a lot to offer many potential business owners; access to major roadways; Route 30, Route 47, and Interstate 88. We have thousands of commuter students that attend Waubonsee Community College, and they don’t have many options to purchase, food, drinks or other goods.

Geary: For years, the easy answer has always been more residential, more residential, because the retailers were telling the village that we needed more rooftops in order to support the retail growth and expansion. The message now is that we need to increase our daytime population.
The village currently has three key projects on their radar, and if approved, can help increase the daytime population in town. The first is a Head Trauma Rehabilitation Center, second is medical or urgent care center sponsored by Delnor Hospital, and the third is an expansion of an existing business’ industrial warehouse. Each of these projects is monumental and critical to the sustained growth within Sugar Grove.
Each of these businesses will provide in-town employment opportunities, and their employees will need gas for their cars, dry-cleaning services, groceries, dining, auto repair, and maybe even some housing. I also believe that the village should be looking at synergy among businesses so that they can co-locate and cut down on the number of miles products have to travel for assembly or exchange.
With current gas prices going up, one of the ways that businesses are looking to save money is by creating synergy with their suppliers. If Sugar Grove can recognize and capitalize on this need of our existing businesses and then assist them with finding synergetic businesses and see if we can get those businesses to relocate to Sugar Grove. This could be a win-win situation for the business and for Sugar Grove.

Johnson: The village needs to continue to work with developers in a cooperative fashion. This includes listening to their needs and balancing their needs with the needs of the community. We have stressed that the village will consider economic incentives on a case-by-case basis. We have also shown a willingness to work through the development process in a more timely fashion. Our Plan Commission members are willing to have extra meetings if necessary, as will the Village Board.
We continue to participate in the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) shows in Las Vegas and Chicago. This allows contact with many developers in one location. The strong infrastructure improvements that we have put in place is also a positive incentive to the commercial developer.
We have worked to have water, sewer and transportation improvements. The diversification of the tax base benefits more than just the village of Sugar Grove, it provides a positive impact on the Kaneland School District as well.
In addition to attracting new businesses to the community, it is equally as important to work with our existing businesses. Our community development director has taken the steps to meet with these businesses to see what the village can do to assist them. Retention and expansion of these businesses is key to continued growth in our daytime population numbers.
I have also had the opportunity to serve as the village’s liaison to the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce, and this provides another avenue for open lines of communication between the chamber members and the village. The continued cooperation between the village and developers, both commercial and residential, will be a key component to the expansion of the village’s tax base.

Buschbacher: I have a business background, and I believe in a “value added model” that if you put a quality product out there and can back it up with your services, people will pay for that. We have to believe in our “business model.” We have a quality product offering … location, rural setting, small-town feel with access roads to take us where ever we desire. If we decide to change the “model” and give away our product, we’ll be doing and injustice to our citizens.
I’m all for negotiating for the right situation, but we have a “quality product” that other towns don’t have … we have a great community, location and schools.
I bring an energy and enthusiasm along with optimism that we can attract the right retail and commercial business to Sugar Grove, but this will not happen by just taking a “build it and they will come” attitude. We do have neighboring towns going through the same situation. We will need to be aggressive and strategic in attracting businesses. We need start pushing the Route 47 and Interstate 88 full interchange … this will give us the leverage to go after businesses/retail and commercial development.
As cities and municipalities to the east of us begin to squeeze tax dollars out of their current businesses, those businesses will want to relocate and look for new opportunities west. We have the “value added model,” a quality product along with great services. If we don’t seek out these businesses, other municipalities will. We need to be aggressive, but in order to do so we have to show them the “value added model.” This is the role of your trustee.

Overall, do you believe
the village is on the right track?

Paluch: Yes. The current board has done a great job in keeping us financially sound, and despite the economy, we have been attracting new businesses. A slow and balanced growth approach has worked, and we are doing far better than some of our neighbors.

Geary: I believe that the future for Sugar Grove is outstanding, provided that the village remains fiscally responsible and encourages growth. Looking back over the last four to eight years, Sugar Grove grew at a slower pace than other surrounding communities, but you take a look at some of the financial problems that those communities are experiencing today and that Sugar Grove does not have those problems, I think we have done well.
The village has a number of key projects on its radar, which the community will greatly benefit from and will serve to continue to diversify our tax base.

Johnson: I believe whole-heartedly that the village of Sugar Grove is on the right track. We have made solid planning decisions for the future growth of our community. We have been forward-thinking in looking at infrastructure needs. We have made the tough financial decisions to keep the village financially sound. Our professional staff exhibits strong leadership skills and a devotion to their “adopted” community. We have strengthened relationships at the county and state levels and stay involved with our congressman.
We look for creative ways to accomplish our goals, through cooperative partnerships, grants and inter-governmental agreements. We have experienced growth in our commercial areas, even in a down economy, and are looking forward to the construction of McDonald’s later this spring, and the planned expansion of some existing industrial interests.
We have a strong working relationship with the city of Aurora, the operation of the Aurora Municipal Airport and expected construction of the HondaJet facility. Though not technically in the village limits, it will be a part of our community.

Buschbacher: I believe the incumbents will answer “yes” to this question. My answer is they haven’t done enough. They have not done enough in the long-term planning.
In the 12 to 16 years in which they have served to put Sugar Grove on the right track, it will be interesting to ask this question in four years when the trustees’ term is up.
Will the roads be maintained? Will commercial and retail come because McDonald’s opened? Will there be a need for a tax increase because our schools, who rely heavily on residential tax base and commercial or retail support, didn’t come as promised? We shouldn’t have had to wait 11 years for a McDonald’s to come to our town. Nor should we have the complacency for them to become our “economic engine”.
We shouldn’t have to wait for another 11 years for commercial and retail development be contingent of a McDonald’s. Sugar Grove needs the leadership to put us on the right track and to keep us on that track for the seeable future.

Q&A: Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District

in April 5, 2011/Elburn by

Note: Voters can select one candidate.

Candidates for the
Elburn and Countryside
Fire Protection District
Name: James R. Feece
Age: 75
Education and employment background: Farmer and landscaping; graduate of Elburn High School; two years at University of Illinois and service in the National Guard

Name: Christopher Garon
Candidate did not respond.

Name: Brian Schopp
Age: 39
Education and employment background: 1991, Graduated from St. Charles High School; currently working toward associate in Fire Science at Waubonsee Community College; Extensive Fire and EMS training.

How would you define
the role of your office?

Feece: People first; budget and levy; equipment needs.

Schopp: My role in the office of fire trustee would be there to help the Fire Department continue to grow and prosper, support a higher level of training for members of the Fire Department and work on expanding the Fire Departments resources. Expanding our fire and EMS resources into the northern portion of our district by building a third fire station, which would staff at least an ALS Engine Company.

What are the top three priorities
you would focus on if elected,
and how would you address them?

Feece: Working with the chief and his staff, trustees, commissioners, fireman and the public.

Schopp: Continue to support a higher level of training for our members in EMS and firefighting. Continue support of the specialized teams in technical rescue, hazardous materials team, fire investigation and adding additional teams such as a dive/rescue team.

What prompted you
to seek this position?

Feece: Being part of a group of very dedicated men and women serving our community.

Schopp: After living in Elburn for the last 21 years and being an active member of the Fire Department for 22 years, I feel that it is important to have someone on the board who sees what the department’s needs are, where we are now and where we should be going in the future.Through the years I have been at Elburn, I have seen many changes and I know where we should be going.

How do you plan
to achieve your goals?

Feece: Working to continue building and serving our community.

Schopp: The way I plan to achieve my goals are to start with my priority list and get moving on the third fire station and to give support and funding to the specialty teams that we have currently and ones we will be adding in the future.

Why are you the best candidate
for this position?

Feece: Understanding the needs of our fire and medical service.

Schopp: I am the best candidate for this position because I have priorities and high standards I have set that can be accomplished if the remaining board members believe in making our Fire District and personnel the best we can be, not only for our citizens of the district but people passing through our district that may need our services.
The mission of the department is to serve, protect and assist in the safety and well being of the citizens. With my education, experience and leadership,I will assist the members of the department in upholding that mission.

Q&A: Kaneland School Board candidates

in April 5, 2011/Kaneland by

Note: Voters can vote for four candidates; up to three who reside in Sugar Grove Township, and up to three who reside in Blackberry Township.

Candidates from
Sugar Grove Township

Name: Tony Valente
Age: 41
Education and employment background:
Education: Ed.S. in Educational Leadership 2010 Northern Illinois University; M.A. Educational Leadership 1998 Northeastern Illinois University; B.S. History Education 1993 Northern Illinois University; Employment: 17 years in education, 11 years as an administrator, currently working as a high school principal.

Name: Joe Oberweis
Age: 31
Education and employment background:
Education: BA, Business Administration, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; MBA, Kellogg School, Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.)

Name: Teresa Witt
Age: : 46
Education and employment background:
I currently work at the Waubonsee Community College Todd Library as a technical assistant. I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism at Kansas State University.

Candidates from
Blackberry Township
Name: Deborah L. Grant
Candidate did not respond

Name: Patrick M. Denlinger
Age: 47
Education and employment background:
Maquoketa Community High School; sales for Armbrust Paper Tubes

Name: Gale E. Pavlak
Age: 65
Education and employment background:
Education: BA Degree in Business Management, Aurora University; Employment: Retired from the human resources field, plus six years of experience as a substitute teacher for the Kaneland School District, mainly at the high school.

Name: Pedro Rivas
Age: 46
Education and employment background:
Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems, DeVry University 1986

How would you define
the role of your office?

Valente: I would define the roll of a School Board member as a representative of the community in the field of education. A School Board member’s role is to perform the will of the people.

Oberweis: First, the role of a School Board member is limited to being one voice and one vote of seven; this is not an executive position. Therefore, with that context, I think it’s more relevant to discuss the role of the board. I think the most important decisions the board makes are determining who will carry out the district’s mission each day as well as how they are compensated—specifically administrators and teachers.
I am not a supporter of trying to micromanage any organization from a board level. The board’s role is that of oversight and not day-to-day management. The key role of individual members is to understand (and vote on) the major issues before the district, as well as to provide advice and counsel to the administration on matters where the member has particular expertise.

Witt: The School Board is responsible for making broad decisions having to do with the district’s vision as well as its goals and direction. In doing so, the board takes into consideration the values and wishes of the community. The superintendent is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the district. The board does have the responsibility, however, to monitor the superintendent to ensure that the district’s progress is in keeping with the broader goals.

Denlinger: The role of a School Board member is to work as a member of a team, including a open mind and the ability to have a give and take attitude. A desire to serve the children of the community, a belief in the public school system and understanding that everyone in the school district has a stake in the decisions made by the School Board. We also need to recognize that the school district may be the largest business in the area, and the board is responsible for seeing that the business is run by highly skilled professionals.

Pavlak: The School Board is where the “buck” stops. We are also the entity where all information comes to/from (students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community). It is the role of the School Board to take into consideration the needs of all these groups and determine the best course of action by using a responsible approach.

Rivas: The role of a board member in office is to oversee and support the superintendent.
A current board member’s role votes on policies and spending decisions. A board member should be held accountable and responsible on what they vote on and oversee. My wife is a non-union employee in the school district. She is a paraprofessional. I will have integrity to abstain myself from any voting that would directly impact her.

What are the top three priorities
you would focus on if elected,
and how would you address them?

Valente: My top three priorities are as follows: Increase academic achievement; control reckless spending; pay down the enormous debt that has been accumulated.

Oberweis: Improving education quality; improving education quality without increasing cost; improving education quality without increasing cost and applying effective aspects of a business mindset.
I am obviously trying to make a point in the presentation of these three priorities, but again, board members aren’t executives. The board collectively (and with the administration) sets the priorities of the district. Therefore, it would be my intent to approach decision-making and advocate the district’s direction by applying this approach (potentially as improved by influence from others).

Witt: Ranking the issues facing the Kaneland School Board in order of importance or priority would be short-sighted. No one issue can stand above the others, as they all directly affect the quality of the education we give our students, the impact on our taxpayers and employees, and the services we provide our community.
What is most important is finding balance among the many facets of school governance. Certainly, the goal must be to provide the best possible education to our students while maintaining the district’s financial health, and while being a good steward of taxpayers’ money.
Getting there requires making prudent fiscal decisions and maintaining a balanced budget, setting high educational standards for our students and providing them with the tools and skills for success, and being accountable to the entire Kaneland community. It is a web of interdependence that requires constant diligence to achieve an equitable balance.

Denlinger: That we display to the taxpayers financial responsibility in all areas of business within the district. This must include working with a balanced budget while meeting or exceeding the educational needs of the students within the district; The continued improvement in the education of the students within our district to exceed state standards; The engagement of ongoing two-way conversations between the school district an the community they serve. We need to know what the community’s educational expectations are and how we as advocates for the district can meet those needs.

Pavlak: The future of our students depends on the quality of their education and decisions made relating to district issues; Fiscal responsibility based on “old fashioned common sense;” Stop reckless spending—we have limited tax dollars. This money should be cherished and spent wisely. Why? Look at question one.
I would address these priorities by holding all groups accountable. We are in this together.

Rivas: Effective student education; Balanced budget; Responsible spending.

What prompted you
to seek this position?

Valente: I am very concerned about the low student achievement and the reckless spending and debt that the district has accrued.

Oberweis: My wife Jennifer and I have three children: Drew (6), Evan (4), and Reese (almost 2). As any parents, Jennifer and I want our children to have a terrific education. I believe my experience as a Kellogg MBA running a business can be a helpful perspective at the board level.
I am the CEO of a company that operates more than 50 facilities in seven states and employs nearly 1,000 people. While there are certainly differences between the “business” of education and my company, there are key similarities in the problems each faces. My experience and strength is in understanding problems, framing them correctly, and working together to determine the best course of action (a.k.a. problem solving). My education and experience are specifically geared towards understanding complex organizations, the difficult dynamics they face, and how to best serve our “customers” given the economic realities of today. I believe these skills are valuable in making board-level decisions that will ultimately determine the quality of education our children receive.

Witt: I have dedicated much of my time in service to the Kaneland School District out of a firm belief that educating our children is the best way to prepare for the future. I am seeking election to the Kaneland School Board because I believe the extensive experience in School District issues I have acquired through many years spent in service to Kaneland would make me a continued asset to the board.

Denlinger: A desire to serve the people of the district.

Pavlak: Many years ago I told two of my sons that I really wanted to work for the school system. They were in school at the time and asked that I wait until they were no longer there, that I really didn’t have to know everything that went on during their school day. I considered their request at the time, but when I retired from human resources, I told them that I was going to become a substitute teacher. They had grown up by that time and were glad to hear my decision.
Being a substitute teacher has given me a unique opportunity to see first-hand just what goes on during the school day, how teachers react to their students and how they help them to achieve, and also how students react to their teachers. It has also given me an opportunity to view how the administration deals with the daily issues of the school day. The next step is the School Board.

Rivas: I have children in the district, and I am a very active father. I also feel it is important to be an active community member. An example of my involvement would be the grading scale change that was decided upon this year for next school year. I coordinated the community petition in favor of this change and brought it to the Board of Education.

How do you plan
to achieve your goals?

Valente: As an experienced administrator, I plan on working collaboratively with the board and the community to create a set of goals and expectations for our district. I will ask for an audit of the district expenditures and work collaboratively with all stakeholders to determine the priorities of the district.

Oberweis: I wouldn’t characterize any of this as “my goals.” Rather, I believe I can add value in developing the district’s goals as well as the tactics to achieve them.

Witt: It should be clarified that the individual board member should not be focused on achieving personal goals, but on working cooperatively with the other board members to achieve goals set by the group. Through this cooperation and exchange of ideas, the board can most effectively make decisions in the best interest of the students and the district.

Denlinger: If elected, I will be serving the people of this community. It is their goals that if elected I must achieve. I will do that through an effort to operate openly by encouraging public attendance at meetings and by keeping people informed of district progress. I believe that no major policies should be enacted until all sides have been studied and all persons or groups affected have been consulted.

Pavlak: I plan to use the information that I have gained from the past six years along with the many years of human resources experience to ask the necessary questions from the board, the administration, etc., that will further the agenda of this School District in a positive direction. I also hope that the board will also use my years of experience to help define and strengthen their direction.

Rivas: Foster and support for better, more efficient and productive ways to teach and prepare our children as they prepare for college and life in the real world.

Why are you the best candidate
for this position?

Valente: I am the best candidate for the position because of my extensive experience in the field of education. I have had the experience in working with a reduced budget while increasing student academic performance at two different high schools. Knowing school finance, curriculum, operations and management, I believe, makes me an excellent candidate for the position of School Board member.

Oberweis: Luckily, given that there are four open seats, we don’t have to debate who is the “best” for this position but rather only who qualifies as one of the four best. My business background, education and skill at solving complex problems is experience unique to the group of candidates that I believe will be an asset at the board level. In addition, I have no family whatsoever who works for the district in any capacity. I therefore certainly believe the value I bring is in the top four of the seven candidates.

Witt: From the time I moved to Sugar Grove in 2002, I have dedicated much of my time in service to the Kaneland School District. My appointment to the board in 2010, along with six years on the Finance Advisory Committee, several years working with Citizens for Kaneland, and service on the Gifted Advisory Committee have provided me with the knowledge required for continued effective board service. No other candidate has such extensive Kaneland experience.

Denlinger: I understand that we not only serve the children of this community, but we serve all the people in the district. This includes everyone from the folks who have worked, raised their kids and retired to the folks who are just starting careers and families. I understand that it will take cooperation, decisiveness, common sense and the ability to work as a team to accomplish the goals of the citizens of the district.

Pavlak: My experience in human resources (contractual and personnel situations) has given me the background to look at situations in a realistic manner. My six years as a substitute teacher has given me an internal look at the district and how it works and why “common sense” is so important.

Rivas: For the last three years, I have attended about 95 percent of all board meetings; engaging in the meetings, making comments, suggestions, as well as acknowledging the work accomplished by the current board and administration. I have gained a great wealth of knowledge on the issues at hand and those that the board will be dealing with in the coming future.
I am out and about in the community, actively listening, involved and communicating, therefore I can be a great asset if elected.
As a newly elected member of the Kaneland Board of Education, I would be able to step in and be productive from day one, due to my familiarity with the board, the current board members, and the policies and procedures.

With our current struggling economy, should Kaneland change its short-
and long-term plans, and if so, how?

Valente: Kaneland may need to change its short-term plans in some areas. Through the Ed fund, we may need to review expenditures with respect to professional development and use attrition as a guide with respect to personnel. In the long term, there may need to be a review of RTI, using it as a guide by increasing Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions by reducing the amount of referrals for student evaluations. The short-term and long-term academic goals should absolutely stay the same, all focusing on increasing student achievement.

Oberweis: Not being on the board currently, I don’t have adequate access to detail behind the short-term and long-term plans to answer this question fairly. It is my understanding that the district has a clear school improvement plan in place and expects to yield results over the coming years.

Witt: In these very uncertain times, Kaneland should remain flexible by not relying heavily on predicted trends in enrollment and funding beyond the next couple of years. The district should continue to set goals for the future, while realizing that funding may not be available for some initiatives, and by having contingency plans in place to deal with shortfalls.

Denlinger: In a struggling economy, your financial goals have to be aligned within a balanced budget.

Pavlak: Short-term probably; long-term, not so sure. There always has to be a long-term plan/goal or direction. This direction needs to be well thought out and must always be considered when working in the present. Short-term plans are affected by many issues such as funding, what direction the economy is moving into, what happens at the state and federal level, how many students are moving into or out of the district, school performance, etc. This is the main area where fiscal responsibility is so important.

Rivas: Kaneland’s short- and long-term goal should always be to provide the children of our community the best education possible with or without the tough economic times we currently face.

The Kaneland School District connects
a number of neighboring communities.
How should the district help foster
a spirit of cooperation among them?

Valente: I think we should have an open forum at School Board meetings and conduct some town meetings on a regular basis. It is very important that we understand the values of all of the communities that we service.

Oberweis: I believe the district’s chief mission is delivering quality education for our children. While the goal of connecting the community is an admirable one, I do not believe this is the role of a school district. The part of this potentially relevant to the district is that I think some district stakeholders want bold change to deliver college-prep education on par with other nearby districts, whereas others aren’t so eager for major changes. This creates a bit of an identity crisis that we have to work through.

Witt: Kaneland already does a good job of creating a cohesive learning environment among diverse groups of students. The mere fact that students from many communities come together in one middle and one high school helps bind our communities together. Administrators should strive to treat all the communities equally, and should keep lines of communication open with local governing bodies in order to further foster a spirit of cooperation.

Denlinger: I believe the communities that make up Kaneland School District do a great job of cooperating with each other and the district.

Pavlak: The district has been working on this situation for as long as we’ve lived here—probably longer. The district has made many strides in its communication avenues. The CAC, FAC, and Facilities committees pull interested individuals from all of the communities that make up this district. I think the opportunity is there, citizens just have to take advantage of them. Whenever you have children moving from local grade schools into a centralized middle school and high school, there will always be a sense of competition between students and parents. For the most part the students seem to make the spirit of cooperation work pretty well.

Rivas: Continue to work with the communities under the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between local municipalities and the Kaneland School District.

How should the district handle
its budget difficulties?
Should a future tax increase
be on or off the table?
What cuts would you make,
and what cuts would
you consider off-limits?

Valente: First and foremost, a tax increase should be absolutely off the table. The cuts I would suggest would focus on the areas of operation and management, and through attrition through the educational fund. I would also review expenditures that do not directly affect student services. I would also conduct a comprehensive review of programs, making sure we are getting the best bang for our buck on the programs that are employed by the district.

Oberweis: From what I have seen, the approach employed by the district is a good one. They identified the priorities (with students at the top followed by staff workload followed by operational services) and looked at expenses first given the lowest priority. The cuts being made are difficult but necessary.
In regards to a tax increase, I do not believe district voters are open to the possibility given the economic conditions that exist today. It is important to remember that a School District board is not empowered to raise taxes but rather only to ask voters.

Witt: The ongoing economic crisis and the disastrous condition of the state of Illinois’ finances have caused much uncertainty not only for school districts, but all local taxing bodies. Despite recent action in the Illinois legislature designed to generate more revenue, the future of state funding for education remains undetermined. In addition, falling home prices have placed an increased burden on taxpayers, and the current halt in development means that there will be no added commercial sources of tax revenue.
Faced with this uncertainty, it is prudent for the Kaneland School District to continue to exercise fiscal restraint. Holding the line on spending and maintaining a balanced budget are paramount to ensuring that the Kaneland School District maintains its financial health. If and when cuts are needed, they should always first be made to those areas which have the least amount of direct impact on students. Core curriculum programs and educational services must be maintained as much as possible. While the financial outlook is bleak, seeking a tax increase at this time would put added stress on taxpayers already burdened by the poor state of the economy, and would not be prudent in the foreseeable future.

Denlinger: I don’t believe a tax increase should be on the table at this time. I believe that because it is our duty to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of this community, each area of district expenditures needs to be evaluated.

Pavlak: Because of the many School Board meetings I’ve attended since entering this election, I’ve had the opportunity to see first-hand how the budget process has developed. Do I know all the ins and outs regarding the process yet, of course not, but I do like most of what I’ve seen so far and am anxious to dig deeper into the process.
As far as a future tax increase is concerned, fiscal responsibility has to be the standard that these types of decisions are derived from. I’m not a mind reader for the future, but any decision must include a balanced budget and living within our means where ever possible. Don’t forget, we’re all taxpayers in this process. Any cuts would have to be made by the entire board with a lot of thought and consideration from everyone involved. I would consider any cuts off-limit that would jeopardize the education our children receive, especially in class size from K through probably sophomore year in high school.

Rivas: The district needs to continue to balance their budget and live within its means. We are all in this together, and riding the storm in tough times should continue to be emphasized. Any cuts made should have the least impact to our children’s education. Our district is unique in that more than 70 percent of the funding comes from local taxes, and if the tax base is suffering, then spending within our means before going to the taxpayers should be the first option. Any decision for additional taxes should be voted on by the taxpayers.

How would you grade the district’s
overall performance, in terms of providing a quality education to its students?

Valente: Due to the drastically declining PSAE scores, Kaneland High School is falling short in the area of providing a quality education for all of our students. There needs to be a focus in the district on college and career readiness. We understand that not all of our students will go to college, but our children should be prepared to face the changing work world.

Oberweis: I am not satisfied with the education quality. When compared to Batavia, St. Charles, Geneva, Oswego and Aurora, only Aurora produces worse results in regards to high school test scores. Oswego, for example, spent roughly 19 percent less than Kaneland per student in 2010 and achieved better test results. St. Charles and Batavia spent 1 percent and 3 percent more and achieved significantly better test results. Therefore, my predisposition is that this isn’t about money.
However, my thought process is to enter with an open mind. I’m not a candidate coming to the table with my own agenda. I’m coming with a curiosity about the issues, a problem-solving mindset, and a motivation to add value to produce the best education possible. I anticipate asking many questions and learning about the School District rather than grandstanding with my own agenda.

Witt: Kaneland excels at being able to see the student as a whole person, and at nurturing the child as well as the learner. For the most part, educators are aware of the needs of each student, and go out of their way to provide individualized instruction. The Kaneland School District also brings together students from diverse backgrounds, and educators and administrators have been successful at bridging differences and creating a cohesive learning community.
The Kaneland School District implemented this year an ambitious school improvement plan with specific goals designed to improve student readiness across all levels and to better prepare Kaneland High School students for college. While student test scores and college readiness results have not been as high as they should be, this plan is targeting Kaneland’s weaknesses, and putting an action plan in place to address them. Also included is a plan to increase academic rigor at Kaneland High School, which should result in more Kaneland High School students meeting or exceeding college readiness benchmarks. The success of these initiatives is vital to improving the quality of education at Kaneland, and the Board of Education must remain committed to continuing them.

Denlinger: I am satisfied, but not complacent. We need to be aware of and engaged in actively seeking improvement for teachers, staff, curriculum and testing.

Pavlak: I think the district overall does a very good job in providing a quality education. Test scores could be better, and again, test scores have been the topic of more than one School Board meeting, and plans are being implemented to make changes. However, performance is a two-way street. Students with a strong parental influence are more focused about their education and place individual initiative on learning for themselves. No one will hold their hands in college or the workplace, so they must take responsibility while in high school, and that’s where parents come in.

Rivas: Our students’ performance is reflective of the gaps within our current curriculum. Effective curriculum, methods used and the teachers teaching our children are the key to helping our children obtain a quality education.

How would you grade the district’s
overall performance, in terms of
making the most effective
and efficient use of its funding?

Valente: I would give the district an “F” on the effectiveness and efficiency in the use of funding. The School District is in considerable debt. The district is spending $750,000 to remove a hill that should have been moved at a minimal cost years ago. The district has spent $10 million to add on to a middle school that is not currently being used, and they have spent tens of thousands of dollars to send administrators to workshops in California and Boston. In the meantime, they have cut programs that would create better readers and math students at the elementary level and have cut programs that would encourage student involvement in extra-curricular activities. If you do the math, I believe that works out to an “F” in the area of effective and efficient use of funding.

Oberweis: Not being on the board currently, I don’t have adequate access to detail behind the short-term and long-term plans to answer this question fairly.

Witt: Kaneland has done well in making effective use of its funding. Over the last few years, falling revenues have made it necessary to cut millions of dollars out of the district’s budget. Administrators have done as well as can be expected in keeping the cuts from directly impacting student programs and activities. While all cuts ultimately affect the students, administrators have worked hard to identify those cuts which have the least negative impact. Unfortunately, each year that the district has to make more cuts to balance the budget, more and more student programs and activities are at risk.

Denlinger: I believe the district has done a good job in their overall financial performance. Not many years ago, we faced unprecedented growth in the district and most recently a rapid decline in growth and funding. I believe under the circumstances, the district has done a good job. I also believe that we must continue to look for ways to improve and enhance the education of the students in the district while operating within a balanced budget.

Pavlak: This is one area that I am really looking forward to getting a lot more information on. I have heard many rumors, and I really want to determine fact from fiction. And again, common sense needs to be the standard.

Rivas: The district has been effective in make adjustments to the current economic conditions.

Q&A: Elburn Village Board

in April 5, 2011/Elburn by

Note: Voters can vote for up to three candidates.

Candidates for
Elburn Village Board
Name: Richard C. Garcia
Candidate did not respond.

Name: Audrey Symowicz
Age: 32
Education and employment background: Elgin Community College graduate; currently customer service, previous experience in retail, office administration and municipality.

Name: William C. Grabarek
Age: 71
Education and employment background: Education: B.A. Roosevelt University—1968; J.D. John Marshall Law School—1975; Registered Patent Attorney-U.S. Patent & Trademark Office—1980;
Employment: Pre-1976—various positions within the chemical industry; 1976 to 1977—Associate attorney with Kolar & Conte, Chicago, IL; 1977 to 1994—Midwest House Counsel-Witco Corporation, Midwest office; 1994 to present—Private practice, Elburn;
Civic experience: Lazarus House—Director/ Secretary and Founding Member; Friends of the Town & Country Public Library—Director/Treasurer & Founding Member; Fox Valley Wildlife Center—Director/Secretary; 2006 recipient of the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award;
Village of Elburn positions held: Planning Commissioner 1993-2003; Planning Commission Chairperson 1995-2003; Trustee 2003-2011

Name: David J. Gualdoni
Age: 38
Education and employment background:
Graduated Burlington Central High School, various FEMA and IEMA classes; Work full-time for city of Geneva, village of Elburn

Name: Ethan Hastert
Age: 33
Education and employment background: I graduated from Yorkville High School, earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and my law degree from the Northwestern University School of Law.
I am an attorney in private practice in Chicago, specializing in complex, commercial litigation in state and federal courts. I also serve as Honorary Consul for the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. Earlier in my career, I served in the White House as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor in the Office of the Vice President of the United States.

How would you define
the role of your office?

Symowicz: The role of a village trustee is somebody that represents the residents. A trustee needs to keep the residents and village’s best interest in mind when considering and voting on issues. Being able to communicate with residents about questions within the village is another important ability of a Trustee.

Grabarek: I see a village trustee’s responsibility as fiduciary by its nature and legislative in its power. As fiduciaries, we must provide the services necessary to protect the health, safety and general welfare of our residents. As a member of the Village Board, a trustee must prudently manage our village’s finances and assets, as well as provide leadership. Leadership is expressed through one’s ability to build consensus at both the board level and amongst our residents.
It is expressed through thoughtful review and support of proposed village projects, whether at the infrastructure level or within the village’s public policy area through ordinance enactments or amendments. And, I suggest, that a trustee’s leadership skill and his or her attentiveness to one’s fiduciary responsibilities are clearly exhibited through intense and thoughtful participation in the development and oversight of our village’s budget.

Gualdoni: My role as a trustee will be to represent the people of Elburn. I will also make sure that the village remains fiscally responsible in these tough times and that village services are not cut. I believe that working with the board and staff as a team that the village of Elburn will be able to offer better services and make our tax dollars go a lot further.

Hastert: I believe that it is the job of our village trustees to ensure that Elburn remains a community where people want to live, raise a family and run a business. If elected, I would do that by: insisting on fiscal responsibility—less spending and more saving produces a more responsible government, lower taxes and sustainable economic prosperity; insisting on smart, measured and well-planned development—I will advocate for smart, measured growth that does not overburden our infrastructure or tax base; exercising an independent voice—I will be an independent voice and advocate for greater openness, transparency and public input; protecting our core values whenever they are challenged.

What are the top three priorities
you would focus on if elected,
and how would you address them?

Symowicz: My immediate goals are maintaining the budget with responsible spending, completing the Village Employee Manual, encouraging resident participation by creating committees which could also aid in the budget, and opening communication lines for residents and village staff with better use of the village website.

Grabarek: The most pressing of issues is how we can successfully manage the operation of the village with decreasing revenues and increasing expenses. The police have unionized and we will be faced with increasing salary demands. The cost of fuel is rising. Salt is getting more expensive. Our squad cars are aging as are our public works vehicles. Our public works folks haven’t had any raises in the past three years. Many of our streets will require substantial repair. Until the economy picks up; until our excess housing stock is sold; I see very slow growth in our revenues.
The number-one issue for this campaign, therefore, is insuring that we maintain our basic services for our residents at a consistent level given our reduced revenues.
We can discuss the Shodeen concept plan/Anderson Road Bridge conundrum ad nauseum and will later address this issue in question eight, but let’s first look back and then look 10, 15 or 20 years down the road at our vision for the village.
The continuing slack in construction gives us the time and opportunity to look back on and evaluate our prior development and, perhaps, amend our vision for future development: what should we change—what should we support—what areas did we ignore while the boom was going that we should look at now?
This period of slow growth also has given us time to review our assets—not only those within our village borders, but those outside our borders—to help form this vision. Let’s look at our available assets: at our center we have an attractive old town business core, a magnificent library, our Metra station; on our north border, Jewel/Osco and Walgreens; to our west, ready access to a magnificent university; to the south, an excellent and growing community college; to the east, regional medical facilities matched by few other areas in Illinois and, of course, Fermi Laboratory. We are contiguous to 1,080 acres of open and recreational Forest Preserve land. And, all around us, we are graced with some of the richest soil in the world. After about 20 years, however, and given our development patterns over those years, it is definitely time to review and, perhaps, amend our vision for the village as expressed through our comprehensive plan.
Now is the time to work together; to brainstorm; to think outside the proverbial box on such projects large and small. What we need now is to exercise our collective imagination.
We should continue in our efforts to preserve our cultural heritage.
The sense of community and place of any city, town or village is built upon the work of those that preceded us. It is that history that forms the verbal and visual mythology of any special place. It is found in the names of the roads and streets, on the tombstones of the local cemeteries, in the architecture of the older homes and buildings in the historic section of town, and in the stories of our older citizens down at the local cafe or tavern. It is preserved through our institutions, whether it is the old class photos and athletic trophies in the main hallway of the high school, the display cases at the library, the dusty collections of a defunct historical society or the township burial records.
While Elburn will never return to that quaint little farm town on the prairies of 30 years ago, through our cooperative efforts with the townships, with the library, with our old-timers, with our other keepers of the records, we have begun assembling, cataloging and digitizing old photographs, burial records, and many other historical documents. Eventually, a digital record of our unique history will be available to everyone.
In order to allow our interested residents to participate in this effort and because of the large volume of records that need be reviewed, we should create a historical records committee.

Gualdoni: My top three priorities will be to make sure that the village remains fiscally responsible and that all projects are done in an efficient and cost-effective manner. I would also like to work on our downtown redevelopment plans to see if we could come up with a realistic plan such as new lighting, parking and sidewalks. I think that these updates would bring new businesses and consumers back to Elburn’s downtown, making it a destination point. I would also like to see the employee manual completed and put in the hands of the employee’s.

Hastert: My top priority is fiscal responsibility—a balanced budget produces smaller government, less spending and lower taxes. At a time when the village cannot rely on ever-increasing property tax revenues or for full and prompt payment of the village’s share of state-collected tax revenue, it is important that the village budget reflect this near-zero-growth reality and make sure that the village is able to continue to provide the essential government functions at the municipal level—e.g., keeping our streets and community safe and clean.
I appreciate the efforts that Elburn officials have recently made to get the village’s fiscal house in order, and, if elected, I will advocate for a continuation of this kind of fiscal discipline. I would also advocate that the village evaluate and prioritize the village’s known capital improvement requirements in order to ensure that, in the face of stagnant tax receipts, the village can continue to provide essential government services without having to raise taxes.
Secondly, as the economy rebounds, Elburn will be faced with increasing pressure to approve developments in the face of uncertainly that there will be sufficient demand to support those developments. Therefore, Elburn must balance responsible economic growth against the risks associated with that growth so that developments do not alter Elburn’s fundamental nature or overburden our infrastructure or tax base. To that end, I would advocate that the village convene a committee of village officials, members of the public and business interests to evaluate development proposals to ensure that they would not alter Elburn’s fundamental nature or overburden our infrastructure or tax base.
Finally, I believe it is important to protect Elburn’s family-oriented nature. Therefore, I will fight to protect our core values whenever they are challenged.

What prompted you
to seek this position?

Symowicz: I am a lifelong member of the area and have been an Elburn resident for almost 11 years. I enjoy being involved within the community and have a strong desire to see the village prosper. As a former village of Elburn employee for over eight years (until a reduction in force), I will bring a different perspective and insight to the board.

Grabarek: I was taught that if we have been given much we must give back by helping others. As a lawyer I have been given much, perhaps not necessarily in money, but in skills. I have the desire, the experience, the skills and the time to devote to the position. I have deeply enjoyed my past service as trustee and, at the same time, humbled by the honor that our residents have granted me by their votes.
As a trustee and a lawyer, I have been able to more intensely participate in large and small cooperative projects and partnerships with various governmental and non-governmental entities that have been beneficial for our village and in which I could not have were I not an elected official. I am running for re-election, as there are a number of projects yet started or completed and that I want to work on.

Gualdoni: I am seeking this position because in the past 12 years, I have seen Elburn change in many ways. I feel that my years of working as a village employee will help the board in planning for the future.

Hastert: I am running for trustee so I can work to ensure Elburn remains a great place to live, raise a family and run a business. Like many Elburn citizens, my wife, Heidi, and I chose to make Elburn our home because of its proximity to regional assets like major metropolitan areas, employers and transportation infrastructure. Perhaps more importantly, Elburn provides us the opportunity to raise our children in a community with the same small-town feel we enjoyed while growing up.

How do you plan
to achieve your goals?
Symowicz: Through honesty, accountability and education. As a team player, I look forward to working with the board and staff on addressing issues within the village.

Grabarek: Though it sounds silly to even mention it, but I promise to continue to thoroughly read our weekly board packets. In my experience, there have been a number of trustees who do not pick up their packets until shortly before the meetings or read them beforehand on the internet and, consequently, attend the meeting nearly completely uninformed. Also, I promise to remain open to inquiries and criticisms of our residents.

Gualdoni: I plan to achieve my goals with good communication with staff, residents and my fellow board members. I believe that the board and staff need to work together as a team to come up with new inventive ideas in order to promote Elburn as great place to work, live and raise a family.

Hastert: If elected I will: advocate for continued fiscal discipline in the village’s budget; advocate that the village post the budget prominently on the village’s website for public review and comment; advocate that the village post the Elburn Station Development Concept Plan prominently on the village website for public review and comment; advocate that the village convene a committee of village officials, members of the public and business interests to evaluate the Elburn Station Development Concept Plan to ensure that it will not alter Elburn’s fundamental nature or overburden our infrastructure or tax base; advocate that the village convene a committee of village officials, members of the public and business interests to evaluate and improve the public review and comment process for future stages of the development at Elburn Station; and advocate that the village evaluate and prioritize the village’s known capital improvement requirements in order to ensure that, in the face of stagnant tax receipts, the village can continue to provide essential government services without having to raise taxes.

Why are you the best candidate
for this position?
Symowicz: I have hands-on experience working in three of the village’s departments. I was also a past president of Elburn Countryside Condo Association, which during my term remained under budget and in good standings. I am committed through hard work, creativity and dedication to helping Elburn succeed.

Grabarek: As I stated in question 3, I have the desire, the experience, the skills and the time to devote to the position. I know experience matters. As the sole incumbent, I have the greatest historical perspective on the operation and development of the village. All the other candidates have never sat in one of the trustees’ seats, nor do any of the other current sitting trustees have any intense experience beyond their current two years on the board. I have 18 intense and continuous years between my time on the Planning Commission and on the board.

Gualdoni: I believe that I am the best candidate for the position because of my vast experience with the village of Elburn part-time for the past 12 years and my full-time experience with the city of Geneva for over nine years, which has given me a different perspective on how other communities work.
I also believe I am the right candidate for the position, because for the past eight years, I have actively attended the Village Board meetings as a resident that was concerned about the future of the town and was never afraid to speak up when I felt something needed to be pointed out.
I have chosen to raise my family here, so I have a vested interest in this community. I have seen how past boards have handled things and learned from that past history. I feel that I have the knowledge and understanding of how everything works, which will help me if I’m elected.

Hastert: In these uncertain times, the village faces difficult economic challenges and decisions that will determine what kind of community Elburn will become over the next 20 years. The challenges we face require someone with the desire, experience and determination to see Elburn through these uncertain times and guide it to a prosperous future.
I bring a powerful blend of experience as an attorney in private practice and a lifelong involvement with government at all levels that will serve the village well. As important, I am also not afraid to make the tough decisions or to fight for what’s best for Elburn and its taxpayers.

With our current struggling economy, should Elburn change
its short and long-term plans,
and if so, how?
Symowicz: Nothing is ever final with planning. Revenue is no longer as easily attained as in the past and could continue that way into the future for some time, so Elburn has needed to adjust their planning for it. Prioritizing projects will be helpful in the long term planning of the budget.

Grabarek: Let’s get through the next fiscal year or two and conduct a review of our comprehensive plan before we consider any significant changes to our long-range plan, which is to continue to allow development within our “Emerald Necklace” formed by Blackberry Creek on our east, Welch Creek on our west and Virgil ditch on our north.

Gualdoni: I think that now is a good time for the village to review its short-term and long-term plans; to make sure that we follow current market trends and that Elburn retains its small-town charm.

Hastert: Every entity, public and private, benefits from continuously evaluating its current position and plans for the future. While growth is currently stalled, growth will one day return to Elburn.
Indeed, the current development being proposed at Elburn Station would add another 2,281 homes to the village. However, the village must ensure that future growth does not change the quaint nature of the village or overburden our infrastructure or tax base. Therefore, it is important to realign the village’s long-term plan with the realities of today’s slowed growth rate so that it can take advantage of the economic recovery when it occurs while protecting against the potential harm that can accompany growth.

The Kaneland School District
connects Elburn to a number
of neighboring communities.
How should Elburn help foster
a spirit of cooperation among them?
Symowicz: Elburn will continue to honor the agreement with the School District and other communities by paying the school impact fees collected in new housing. When considering new developments, making sure the needs of the school district will be satisfied.

Grabarek: The School District is developing a new impact fee schedule, which will be incorporated into a new intergovernmental agreement between all the municipalities within the School District and will replace the existing one that was slightly modified and extended for one year. This is the principal mechanism to prevent inter-municipal tugs-of-war by prospective developer. A boundary agreement is another possible mechanism between municipalities.

Gualdoni: Elburn and the surrounding communities should continue to honor the agreements they made with the Kaneland School District. Every couple years, the schools meet with the villages and negotiate impact fees. I think this should continue.

Hastert: Frequently, schools serve as the hub of a community, particularly for those families with young children. The village of Elburn can support Kaneland and help foster a spirit of cooperation by ensuring that Elburn remains a community where people want to live, raise a family and run a business. The better village officials do that, the better off Kaneland will be, because Elburn will attract families interested in their children’s education and the success of the School District. As trustee, I will fight to protect and enhance the qualities that make Elburn attractive to businesses and families alike.

What are your views on the proposed
Elburn Station development?
Symowicz: Positives I see in the most recent approved concept plan is less residential units, more commercial and park/open space, and a pedestrian bridge, making the train station more user-friendly for those north of the tracks. I still have questions regarding the impact on the School District, the need for high housing density, the capability of the treatment plant to handle more residents, the street connections to existing Elburn, and where the infrastructure will go and who will be paying for it? I understand this is a 20-year build-out plan and things will change along the way, but I would like assurance this isn’t going to be another project left half-way completed with the village left to fund the finish.

Grabarek: Returning to the Shodeen concept plan, with the deletion of the commercial development north of Route 38 at Anderson Road, the project is not very appealing, as the proposed density is very high at almost 2,300 units on 506 acres, and not much commercial space is proposed for that density.
In a more perfect political world (where we and the county are not being held apparent hostage by the spectra of losing $18,000,000 in funding for the bridge because Shodeen holds 85 percent of the needed right of way and apparently won’t talk until we, Elburn, give Shodeen its demanded density), the county would take the necessary right of way for the Anderson Road bridge by eminent domain and remove Shodeen’s Damoclesean sword of development density hanging over Elburn’s head.
The Anderson Road bridge is as essential for Shodeen’s project as it is for the county and for Elburn. Without the bridge, Shodeen is left with one acre well and septic rural estate lots.

Gualdoni: This project would have received better response from the public if it was made more readily available via Elburn’s website, handouts or some kind of town hall meeting. I also have questions on how it will affect schools, public safety, and current infrastructure. I still would like to see some changes, such as the apartments changed to condos or even reducing the number of them. This project is still a long way from being started and plans will change with the engineering of water, waste water, and rights of way.

Hastert: I support the concept of a transportation-oriented-development at Elburn Station. However, I have some reservations about the current plan. My three main concerns with the concept plan are that: it relies too heavily on multi-family units; whether the development will be appropriately phased in so supply does not outstrip demand; and whether the village’s current infrastructure can support the additional burden, e.g., as I understand it, the village’s waste water treatment facility would need to be expanded and it is unclear where the village would get the funds to pay for such a project.
Without satisfactory answers to those questions, I would not have voted to approve the concept plans. I believe it is essential that Elburn remains a community where people want to live, raise a family and run a business. Therefore, the village must carefully analyze developments (like the one proposed at Elburn Station) so that such developments do not alter Elburn’s fundamental nature or overburden our infrastructure or tax base.

What should the village do to help
revitalize downtown, as well as expand
its overall economic base?
Symowicz: The village could help with downtown revitalization by improving the streetscape and finding grants to off-set the costs. By replacing the sidewalks and lighting, Elburn could make the area more pleasing for potential new businesses. Building owners can take advantage of grants available to help keep their buildings visually appealing as well for customers and businesses alike. Future proposed developments must encourage commercial growth to help offset the residential.

Grabarek: Until the economy picks up; until our excess housing stock is sold; I see very slow growth in our revenues. It is difficult to attract new business into the village when so many store fronts are vacant. As I stated in response to priority no. 2, now is the time to work together to brainstorm; to think outside the proverbial box. What we need now is imagination. We also need to showcase our destination businesses—Reams, the hobby shop, Schmidt’s, our library. We need a pedestrian/bike bridge over the railroad tracks from the Metra station to our downtown. We need to make our downtown core become everyone’s neighborhood to hang out in.

Gualdoni: Elburn needs to focus on improving lighting, parking and sidewalks in the downtown. This would be a good start to attracting new businesses.
Hastert: The most important thing the village can do to attract business is to act like one itself by living within its means and exercising fiscal discipline. As trustee, I will fight to protect and enhance the qualities that make Elburn attractive to businesses and families alike by: Insisting on fiscal responsibility—Less spending and more saving produces a more responsible government, lower taxes and sustainable economic prosperity; Insisting on smart, measured and well-planned development—I will advocate for smart, measured growth that does not overburden our infrastructure or tax base; Exercising an independent voice—I will be an independent voice and advocate for greater openness, transparency and public input; Protecting our core values whenever they are challenged.

Overall, do you believe the village is
currently on the right track?
Symowicz: I do believe the village is headed in the right direction. There have been some bumps in the road that Elburn has had to adjust for and learn from, but is continuing to positively move forward.

Grabarek: Overall, given the current economic environment, I believe the current board is on the right track—careful management of revenues against our needs and, at the same time, planning for the future. No idea, however, should be rejected out of hand for sounding too silly or dumb. And the Village Board should not be considered the sole holders of development wisdom. I invite ideas from our residents. I believe it is perhaps time to reinstitute our economic development commission.

Gualdoni: I do believe the village is headed in the right direction for the most part. However there is always room for improvement. I think that the board really needs to open lines of communication with the employees to find out what they do and what they need to function in an efficient manner.

Hastert: Yes, however we need to remain vigilant, plan for the best and prepare for the worst. I especially appreciate the efforts that Elburn officials have recently made to get the village’s fiscal house in order, and, if elected, I will advocate for a continuation of this kind of fiscal discipline.

Nov. 2, 2010 Election results

in Featured/Nov. 2, 2010 by

The early results showed it was a tight race, but supporters of Sugar Grove resident and current Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez, who had his Tuesday night election party at Piper’s Banquets in Aurora, unofficially won his re-election bid over challenger Donald E. Kramer. Photo by Ben Draper

Election Results

Below are the local unofficial results from the Nov. 2, 2010 general election. Winners names are in bold/italics.

Office

Total

District Representative
14th Congressional District
Democrat
Bill Foster 95,878
Republican
Randall M. “Randy” Hultgren 110,026
Green
Daniel J. Kairis 7,766
State Senator
25th District
Democrat
Leslie N. Juby 30,284
Republican
Chris Lauzen 68,536
State Representative
50th District
Democrat
Linda Healy 16,856
Republican
Kay Hatcher 36,608
Kane County Clerk
Democratic
Mavis A. Bates 38,192
Republican
John A. “Jack” Cunningham 76,388
Green
Jose Luis Del Bosque 5,270
Kane County Treasurer
Democrat
Joseph Lowery 41,777
Republican candidates
David J. Rickert 77,332
Kane County Sheriff
Democratic candidates
Pat Perez 61,428
Republican candidates
Donald E. Kramer 59,586
16th Judicial Circuit
Kane County Vacancy
Democratic candidates
John G. Dalton 44,867
Republican candidates
David R. Akemann 72,449

Trio seek seat to represent 14th Congressional District

in Nov. 2, 2010 by

Democrat incumbent Bill Foster seeks his second term representing the 14th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, while Republican challenger Randy Hultgren and Green Party candidate Dan Kairis seek to replace him in Washington.

Bill Foster
Democrat, Incumbent
Age: 55
Family: Married; two children
Hometown: Batavia
Education, employment, and political background: Currently serves as U.S. Representative for the 14th District. Spent more than 20 years as scientist at Fermilab; started manufacturing business. Graduated University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1975, earned graduate degree from Harvard University in 1983
Community involvement:
Member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); elected fellow of the American Physical Society. Served on the board of the Batavia Foundation for Education Excellence, an organization dedicated to enhancing the public schools in Batavia; was a youth soccer coach in the Tri-Cities for several years.

Bill Foster said he is seeking a second term because he has shown the type of independent voice needed in Washington. He cited a National Journal article ranking him as the second-most centrist member of Congress, and said endorsements from growth suck as the Illinois Farm Bureau and VFW-PaC demonstrate his centrist approach to policy positions.

“I value facts over ideology or partisan politics, which is why I voted against the flawed cap and trade bill and why I voted against my own party’s budget every time because it failed to include a long-term plan to reduce the deficit and pay down the debt,” Foster said.

Foster said the nation’s priority should be creating jobs and improving the economy.

“Putting America back to work requires leaders with independent solutions, not more career politicians who only repeat partisan talking points,” Foster said. “As a small businessman and scientist, I know what it takes to create jobs, and I am committed to helping our economy fully recover.”

His background as a small businessman has helped him understand what is needed to help the economy recover, he said.

“I know that small businesses are the engine that drives economic recovery,” Foster said. “This is why I have supported tax breaks for small businesses and tax credits for local entrepreneurs who are creating new jobs, while voting to crack down on tax loopholes for corporations shipping American jobs overseas.”

To help manufacturing jobs remain in the United States, Foster said he supports making the research and development tax credit permanent, and linking it to a commitment to manufacture in the U.S.

Foster supported several tax breaks and tax credits for small businesses, and specified ones targeted at creating new jobs. He explained that due to these types of pro-business policies he has supported, after-tax business profits are larger than pre-crisis levels.

“Businesses are using these record profits first to de-leverage from the unhealthy debt levels of the last decade, then to invest in new equipment to raise productivity, and will then finally begin hiring—a healthy, inevitable, but painfully slow process,” he said.

From a long-term perspective, Foster said the nation needs to focus on its debt by reducing unnecessary and wasteful spending. In 2009, Foster against $3.7 billion in specific wasteful government spending and earmarks, and co-sponsored a bill that would cut the pay of legislators by 5 percent. He also voted to cap all non-essential spending.

“We simply cannot continue to saddle our children and grandchildren with tens of thousands of debt to pay for services being provided to the present generation. My record proves my commitment to bringing fiscal responsibility back to Washington,” Foster said. “Unfortunately, it took us years to get into this mess and getting out of it will also take time, but we need to let the American citizens know that we have a path to return us to economic prosperity.”

Randy Hultgren
Republican, Challenger
Age: 44
Family: Married, four children
Hometown: Winfield
Education, employment, and political background: Graduate, Bethel University, 1988; JD, Chicago-Kent College of Law, 1993; Financial Certificates: Series 7, 6, 63; is an investment adviser; served in the Illinois State Senate from 2007 to present; served in the Illinois State House of Representatives from 1999-2007; served on the DuPage County Board from 1994-1998
Community involvement: Has served on the Board of Directors for the DuPage Homeownership Center; Metropolitan Family Services Board; Koinonia Ministry Board; Serenity House Board; President of the Wheaton Academy Alumni Board

Randy Hultgren said he is seeking the office because he wants to bring “commonsense policies to Washington.”

He said he would focus on helping people get back to work, cutting government spending by restoring fiscal sanity, and passing a new healthcare reform that will control the cost of care.

If the federal government follows the policies he supports, Hultgren said the nation would experience a reversal of its current direction.

“It is no secret that the only segment of growth in our economy is government,” Hultgren said. “And still the economy doesn’t improve; one in 10 is unemployed; and we are on the verge of an enormous tax increase impacting all Americans on Jan. 1. Our nation is going in the wrong direction, and I will fight to stop this dangerous slide.”

Hultgren said that the nation’s recovery will be based on more than a single bill or policy proposal.

“I think the single most important thing we can do to spur economic recovery is change the fundamental philosophy in Congress from one that penalizes job creators and believes the government knows best, to one that empowers free-enterprise to innovate and employ,” he said.

Hultgren pointed out that the federal budget is nearly a quarter of the entire federal economy, saying that the government does not have a revenue problem, it has an expenditure one.

“Addressing the wasteful and inappropriate spending—not raising taxes in a recession—needs to be our priority,” he said.

He supports lowing payroll taxes or forgiving payroll taxes on new employees, passing long-term extensions of the Research and Development tax credit, exemptions for the Alternative Minimum Tax and repeal of the death tax, and the extension of higher expensing limits for capital expenditures and outlays.

“As a long-term solution, I strongly support comprehensive tax reform that universally lowers rates, has simpler rules, and produces faster filing,” he said. “Title 26 of the US Code and federal tax regulations in 26 C.F.R. amount to thousands upon thousands of tax regulations that are producing a very real drag on our economic productivity and competitiveness. Families, individuals, and businesses shouldn’t have to spend 10s or 100s of hours complying with an overly complicated tax code.”

Part of his plan for ensuring long-term and sustainable economic growth is to deal with the federal debt. Calling it an “unsustainable burden on future generations,” he said he would have opposed recent measures such as the financial reform bill passed this summer.

“I would have strenuously opposed the financial reform bill because it institutionalizes bailouts and does nothing to address the problem posed by government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae, which were the root cause of the financial crisis,” he said. “Taxes should be lowered; high taxes are hindering investment and hurting our international competitiveness.”

Don Kairis
Green Party, Challenger
Age: 60
Family: Married, two children
Hometown: South Elgin
Education, employment, and political background: Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Illinois University in 1972; semi-retired/substitute teacher; member of United We Stand America Bylaws Committee; Treasurer of Independents Party of Illinois
Community involvement: U-46 Strategic Planning Committee; South Elgin Intergovernmental Affairs Committee Chair: first/second-grade basketball coach in South Elgin; Vice President Citizens Against the Balefill; “Odyssey of the Mind” Judge; MS Walk; Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run Volunteer; “Little Angels Run”; South Elgin “Bikes and Badges Run for Special Olympics; Motorcycle Charity Ride for the Ecker Center; AOPA Pilot Mentor Program; Vagabond Flying Association Membership Chair

Dan Kairis said that a vote for him and fellow Green Party candidates would send a message to politicians from both parties that the public deserves better. He said that special interests and campaign finances have led to many of the problems the nation is currently facing.

“The phrases ‘best government money can buy’ and ‘pay for play politics’ continues to be perpetuated by the entrenched political parties and the special interests that fund their campaigns,” Kairis said. “I am the only established candidate who is taking no special interest campaign contributions. Thus I can represent the citizens without the undue influence of the special interests.”

To help bolster the national economy, Kairis pointed to his 2020 Green Energy Plan, which he said would create millions of jobs. In addition, he said millions of American jobs are lost due to trade imbalances with other nations, specifically China.

“We need to end the unfair trade practices that allow other countries to dump their government subsidized products at the expense of our workers. We need to stop our dependency on foreign oil. We need to stop the subsidization of multi-national corporations. All of these policies have cost millions of American jobs,” Kairis said.

Kairis pointed to an updated study by G. William Domhoff that said in 2007, the top 20 wealthiest Americans owned nearly 85 percent of the nation’s wealth. In addition, he cited a report by the New York Times’ David Cay Johnston that said the income of the top 400 richest Americans tripled during the Clinton administration and doubled again during the Bush administration.

“Their undue influence with the two major parties have caused the ‘trickle down’ economic theory to (become) a ‘torrent to the top,’ with the richest benefitting from the taxes the rest of us pay,” Kairis said. “It is time for them to pay their fair share and end the offshore accounts and loopholes.”

Kairis said that an additional, significant economic problem is the size of our federal debt. Calling it a “tremendous problem for our children,” Kairis said that reducing our dependence on foreign oil and focusing on our trade deficit with China would begin to address the problem.

“Keeping that wealth here would provide to essential steps to reducing the debt,” he said. “Providing those jobs would provide extra taxes and would reduce the cost of government services for the unemployed.”

Those two areas of focus would also have a foreign relations benefit as well, he said.

“We need to end our dependence on foreign oil. Our economy can be held hostage at any time by a country that disagrees with any of our policies,” Kairis said. “The 2020 Green Energy Plan I have been helping to develop would be a practical step in addressing many of our economic and environmental problems.”

Lauzen, Juby vie for state Senate seat

in Nov. 2, 2010 by

Both incumbent Republican Chris Lauzen and his Democrat challenger, Leslie Juby, believe the state government needs to be reformed. Lauzen said his ideas are based on his 18-year career in Springfield. Juby said her ideas are based on her years as a teacher, community volunteer and Geneva School Board member.

Chris Lauzen
Republican, Incumbent
Age: 57
Family: Married, four children
Hometown: Aurora
Education: BS with honors Management Science and English, Duke University, 1974; Certified Public Accountant (CPA), University of Illinois, 1976; Master of Business Education (MBA), Harvard University, 1978; Candidate for Doctorate in Education Finance, NIU.
Experience: Owner, Comprehensive Accounting Services, 1984-1998; President, Comprehensive Accounting Corp., 1979-1984; Assistant to the President, Gould Corporation, 1978-1979
Political: Served on State Senate since 1992
Community involvement: Geneva Lions Club, Sons of the American Legion, Compassion Foundation Board of Directors, Heart of Illinois POW/MIA Association, IL Republican National Hispanic Assembly, Harvard Business School Old Boy Rugby Team, Fox Valley Maoris Rugby Team

Chris Lauzen said he wants the chance to return to Springfield because he wants to continue keeping the promises he made prior to taking office for the first time in 1992.

“When I first ran and was elected to the state Senate, I didn’t promise anyone a road, government job, engineering contract, lobbying position, or to tow any partisan line,” Lauzen said. “Instead, I promised to work hard, stay honest, and use common sense … and I have kept those promises.”

Lauzen defined common sense by saying it means traditional American values, ”respect for innocent human life, fidelity to the U.S. Constitution including the Second Amendment, support for the traditional definition of family, and fiscal conservatism.”

With the state facing significant budget issues, Lauzen said the solution is not as complicated as some make it sound—the Illinois government must simply live within its means without passing a tax hike. To accomplish that would require a massive spending reduction. Lauzen said the state should apply the 2010 public employee pension reforms to current employees for future earnings. The state should cap annual benefits at $120,000 per year, raise the age of retirement to 62 years from the current 55 years, stop multiple pensions from “double dipping,” and reduce Medicaid eligibility to national average levels. He said the state should also go through each state agency and program and “seriously prune” them. Only after these cuts should the state consider tax reform and modernization, he said.

He said the state must focus on bringing jobs back to Illinois.

“To bring jobs back to Illinois, in the short-run, we need to cut the costs of doing business in Illinois in order to increase the incentive to grow across-the-board, i.e. workers compensation and unemployment insurance reforms, stable and low tax rates, elimination of unnecessary regulations, etc.,” he said. “In the long-run, (being) competitive is a matter of ‘capital formation,’ both human capital (education) and financial (net on money invested).”

With a growing distrust in government, Lauzen said it is important that each elected official focus on their own conduct.

“I am proud of my record of personally returning every telephone call, e-mail, or piece of correspondence from constituents for more than 17 years,” he said. “But most importantly, restoring trust in public institutions begins with the personal conduct of our elected officials. Appropriate and ethical behavior has been my family’s and my first priority for 18 years. It is up to all of us, as voters to discipline politicians who enrich themselves, their families and friends at our taxpayer expense.”

Leslie Juby
Democrat, Challenger
Age: 49
Family: Married, two children
Hometown: Geneva
Education, employment, and political background: Governor’s State University, BA Language and Literature, 1983; substitute teacher Batavia Public Schools; member of the Geneva Board of Education 2007-present
Community involvement: School and church volunteer; Geneva Beautification Committee; Historic Homeowners Association; Geneva History Center

Leslie Juby said her run for the State Senate seat representing the 25th District is based on her belief that the state needs new leadership and ideas.

“I want more than political rhetoric designed to confuse, deflect and mislead,” she said. “I want to put people back to work, clean up state government, restore fiscal sanity, and ensure that education becomes a top priority.”

Juby pointed to her experience gained through her professional background, as well as her time spent on the Geneva School Board, as an example of how she would work with people with various ideas for the future.

“I have a history of working with people to fix problems at work, on the school board, and as part of many volunteer groups,” Juby said. “I will take my enthusiasm, fresh perspective, and new ideas to the state Senate and better represent our communities.”

Juby said that the first thing Illinois should do is to reduce its waste.

“The absolute first thing state government must do to confront the budget crisis is make real cuts—particularly to obvious examples of waste, mismanagement and bloated bureaucracy,” she said. “Since 2000, Illinois has reduced its workforce by 21 percent. It needs to reduce office space by the same amount, consolidating offices and ending unnecessary lease agreements and renegotiating others.”

She said one idea that should not occur at this time is a tax increase.

“Given the state of the economy and Illinois’ unemployment rates, a tax increase is simply unsupportable right now,” she said. “Although in the long term, we may need to consider modernizing Illinois’ revenue code; first we need to demonstrate to voters that we have cut every last bit of waste from Illinois government.”

Juby believes the state should place education, public safety, and the social services people rely on for their survival as the top priorities.

“While I recognize that we may need to make some cuts to human services, we will have to be particularly careful not to cut programs that Illinois residents rely on for their very survival, like medical assistance and the Department of Children and Family Services,” she said. “What we need to do is ask state agencies which programs are most vital to their mission—making it clear that there will be cuts—and go from there. I am certain there are many smaller programs that serve an important purpose, but that we can do without in this crisis.”

She said she will be able to help the state focus on its finances while preserving its necessary priorities because she is not a career politician with a career politician’s mindset.

“I was raised with the belief that it is our duty to give back to our communities,” Juby said. “This ideology is reflected in my tireless commitment to make my schools and community better … It is counter productive to continue to fixate on how Illinois got into this crisis instead of working together to get out. I will take my skills to Springfield to facilitate problem solving and implement solutions to get Illinois back on track.”

Rickert seeks to continue public service

in Nov. 2, 2010 by

David Rickert, the Republican incumbent in the race for Kane County Treasurer, hopes to continue his service to the county after the Nov. 2 election.

David Rickert

Republican, Incumbent
Age: 44
Family: Married, three children
Hometown: Elgin
Education, employment, and political background: Certified Public Accountant, current Kane County Treasurer, former senior auditor for a Fortune 500 company, served in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve; Masters degree in Accounting from Roosevelt University; Bachelors degree in Finance from Northern Illinois University; member of the Illinois County Treasurer’s Association (ICTA), voted 2009 County Treasurer of the Year by the ICTA
Community involvement: Former soccer coach, Elgin Parks and Recreation served as election judge, elected precinct committeeman

David Rickert said his decision to run for the Kane County Treasurer’s Office was based on a simple fact.

“I enjoy serving the citizens of Kane County,” he said. “My goals have consistently focused on ensuring the safety and security of public funds while trying to maximize return on investment.”

With his background, Rickert said he is able to take a hands-on approach to monitoring the office’s investments, tax process and financial accounting. He plans to focus his next term on promoting teamwork within the county.

“Some of the most beneficial initiatives that I’ve undertaken to date have been joint efforts to increase efficiency,” he said. “For example, a unified tax system that integrates the tax information from the Clerk, Supervisor of Assessments, and Treasurer’s Offices was implemented. This has reduced expenses and streamlined the process between the three offices.”

He said that another successful effort in working with the same group was the Quick Guide to Property Taxes, which provided information on all aspects of property taxes to help inform citizens. There will now be an insert to each tax bill that will also provide useful property tax information.

“Interdepartmental cooperation with the Clerk and Supervisor of Assessments has proven beneficial to the taxpayers,” Rickert said. “Expanding these educational efforts and keeping the information current will be an initiative that I will continue during the next term.”

In addition, Rickert said he plans to encourage further transparency in government. With the state legislature enacting additional Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rules for responding to public requests for information, Rickert plans to go beyond those rules by providing the information up front and online for the public to examine without needing to file a FOIA request first.

“Providing as much information to the public via the web is a high priority,” he said.
Rickert said the formula for success in his office is easy to follow.

“Be honest, work hard and lead by example,” he said.

Joseph Lowery
Democrat, Challenger
The candidate did not respond to the Elburn Herald’s phone calls.

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