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Election 2012: Kane County Circuit Clerk

in Nov. 6, 2012 by

Challengers vie for KC Circuit Clerk Office

Both Ed Nendick and Thomas Hartwell seek to bring greater efficiency standards to the office of Kane County Circuit Clerk.

Ed Nendick
Democrat
Ed Nendick is looking to use his experience from serving 24 years as a veteran in both the U.S. Navy and Air Force, as well as his time spent as Vice President of Sales and Administration in his company, O’Connor & Nendick Inc., in the role of Kane County Clerk of the Circuit Court.

He plans to apply that experience to improving the office and how it functions.

“I have served my country. I have raised my children. I have built my business and put plans in place to keep it going until I return,” Nendick said. “I see the opportunity to turn this governmental body around to a lean, high quality,efficient unit that cooperates with the other four Clerk of the Circuit Courts offices in this state. Together we can accomplish what individually we cannot.”

The spirit of togetherness is vital to his plans, he said. While listing his top three priorities, he noted that his third priority could actually double as his number-one priority.

“Third, and maybe first, would be to bring a spirit of cooperation and integrity to the office through outstanding leadership, example and a hands-on approach,” Nendick said.

Building on that spirit of cooperation, Nendick would work to integrate the computer program developed at the Clerk of DuPage County Office.

“I would request the Clerk of DuPage County share the program that they developed on Illinois government time using Illinois government money. Local citizens of Illinois paid the computer programmer wages in DuPage County. Credit goes to their brilliance in developing a program that works so well when others have stumbled,” he said.

From that point, Nendick wants to conduct a thorough audit of all systems and programs that exist in the office. He would establish clear personnel goals and training standards, redevelop job descriptions and clearly articulate personnel expectations.

Nendick said that all specific plans will flow from the audit process, as that will determine the areas that need improvement, thereby creating both short- and long-term goals. From there, he said, it is all about leadership.

“Leadership requires good communication. I plan to have great communication with my employees; I believe in an open door policy and am open to all suggestions and possible ways to improve the system I would like to implement,” Nendick said.

Tom Hartwell
Republican
Tom Hartwell said that after 27 years as an attorney, regularly interacting with the Circuit Clerk’s Office, in addition to his time serving on the Kane County Board, he knows what it takes to make the office run more efficiently and effectively.

“My 27 years (of) experience as an attorney using the Circuit Clerk’s Office in Kane and other counties (as well as federal courts), give me a unique understanding of what excellent service means,” Hartwell said. “My service as a member of the Kane County Board has given me insight regarding the budget process and promoting cooperation and communication.”

Because the nature of the office is largely managerial, Hartwell said he has learned through his past experiences how to organize an office such as that of the Kane County Circuit Clerk.

“I am an attorney with an MBA. I served on the Kane County Board from 1996 to 2000. I have personal experience using the circuit clerk’s office. I have management experience. I have government experience,” Hartwell said. “While experience often dictates what we do, leadership allows us to do it. I have both the experience and leadership qualities to manage the circuit clerk’s office in an efficient and effective manner.”

He said he would use that range of experience and knowledge to streamilne the office, focusing his efforts on reducing waste and inefficient practices. He would connect those efforts to increasing transparency within the department, as well.

Financial efficiency goes hand-in-hand with transparency and accountability,” he said. “Given the changes that will occur with the upcoming election, this is one of our best opportunities to improve the relationship between elected officials.”

Better communication, increased effiencies and reduced waste will translate into the ability for the office’s employees to take on other additional responsibilities.

“(This will) create an create an atmosphere organized around timely and cost-efficient customer service,” he said.

Overall, service is Hartwell’s goal, and all other efforts would be designed to increase and improve services to the public.

“My goal as the circuit clerk is to serve the citizens of Kane County in a timely, efficient and ethical manner,” Hartwell said. “As an outsider, I bring a fresh prospective to the office not being entangled by policies of the past. It is important that the Circuit Clerk’s Office is well run and cost effective. Government must operate with its means.”

Election 2012: Kane County Board District 18

in Nov. 6, 2012 by

County incumbent faces challenge
What was once known as the 26th District on the Kane County Board is now folded into the 18th District. Incumbent Drew Frasz faces a challenge from Kerri Branson.

Drew Frasz
Republican
After 12 years volunteering on various community projects—including the steering community that helped develop La Fox and the La Fox Community Park—Drew Frasz joined the County Board to represent District 26. Now that area is drawn into District 18, and Frasz points to his continued community involvement as the reason he believes he deserves your vote.

“I am a life-long resident with the civic and elected experience mentioned above,” Frasz said. ”I am an active and engaged County Board member who responds to constituent’s needs. The position requires attending over 200 meetings per year both days and evenings. I have the best attendance record on the County Board, and have delivered on every campaign promise made in 2008.”

His goals for this term are clear-cut: 1) Hold or reduce the county’s portion of property tax bills and encourage other taxing bodies to do the same; 2) break ground on the Anderson Road bridge and road corridor in spring 2013; and 3) Continue to move forward with the Interstate 88/Route 47 interchange.

While the goals are clear-cut, the path to accomplishing these goals is not easy and will require the work ethic he has already exhibited during his time in office, he said.

To address the tax issue, Frasz said he would continue to pursue the conservative fiscal policies the County Board has been following. He would explore reducing non-mandated county services that the public may not deem affordable, and would look into potential new sources of revenue to reduce reliance on the county portion of property tax bills.

The Anderson Road bridge and road corridor project is more complex, and Frasz said he would encourage continued talks between the project developers and the village of Elburn, which recently voted to table the project.

“The county is ready to get bids on this project, and federal funding is in place but may be in jeopardy if not used soon,” he said.

Similarly, the Interstate 88/Route 47 interchange project will also require strong communication among various entities.

“This will be an active partnership between several governmental agencies including Sugar Grove, Elburn, Kane County, the Tollway Authority, and state/federal funding agencies,” he said.

His efforts are based on a simple premise, which serves as the foundation for his efforts both during his time on the County Board and previously.

“I am very proud of our area and want to see it grow in a positive way,” Frasz said.

Kerri Branson
Democrat
After spending years volunteering in the community, Kerri Branson said she wants to run for County Board because she can identify with the challenges and successes that everyday citizens face.

“I am running as an average resident of Kane County who has experienced the same struggles as the people of our county and want to make a difference by raising questions to the board that our community has been asking,” she said.

She plans to continue coordinating efforts and communicating within the community, and as a County Board member she can make sure those voices get heard.

“As a public servant, it is my duty to listen to my constituents and bring their concerns before the board,” she said. “I believe in coming together as board members and making decisions about our county to make it a better place to live, work and be proud of.”

She would focus her efforts on cutting wasteful spending and allocating funds fairly and ethically. She would promote community health and education, including the preservation of farmland and forests. And to address an issue she has lived with first-hand, she would help those who are with exceptional needs.

“My biggest accomplishment in life are my four children, who have taught me the basics in life I can use towards solving any problem,” Branson said. “My two oldest twins are severely affected by cerebral palsy, which threw me in headfirst to an array of medical, insurance and organizational stresses.”

She said her family’s experience has taught her a lot about how people with special needs are treated in society.

“I have been a strong advocate for my sons and people who are at a disadvantage by relentlessly continuing to fight for their rights,” she said. “This will be my job for the rest of my life, and I feel honored God has given me this responsibility.”

She said her “everyday citizen” perspective is exactly what is needed on the Kane County Board.

“Inexperience can sometimes be a positive addition to an equation that needs solving,” Branson said. “If people are looking for change in our county, more of the same and requiring experience is not going to bring that. Fresh eyes to an old problem can help look at things creatively and logically without the influence of what has already taken place. I am not a politician, and have no desire to strive to be one. My interest is in relaying what I hear from our community to the County Board and advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves.”

Election 2012: State Senate—25th District

in Nov. 6, 2012 by

Challengers Pierog, Oberweis seek State Senate seat

A pair of challengers will face off to win the seat representing the 25th District in the Illinois State Senate.

Corinne Pierog
Democrat
With a background in education, as well as being a small-business owner and community volunteer, Corinne Pierog regularly sees first-hand the struggles of the middle class in Illinois. She said she is running for office to help ease those struggles.

“People in my community are struggling. I am from and support the middle class, and I can be the advocate who understands their problems and can be their voice in Springfield,” she said.

With time spent on the St. Charles School Board, as well as the City Council, Pierog has experienced working with groups of all sizes and people of all means, facing a variety of challenges.

“All of our residents must be able to succeed. I want our kids to achieve their dreams,” she said.”I don’t want families to have to choose between funding their 401K and paying their child’s college tuition. And I want our seniors to enjoy their retirement with dignity. I want to make sure our economic and social policies reflect the needs of our businesses, our residents and our social service agencies.”

If elected, Pierog said she would focus on three areas: jobs, education, and property tax relief.

Economic growth is vital to secure a more stable future for the state’s residents, she said, and focusing on certain areas of the economy are important to the state’s economic turn-around.

“We need to reinvigorate our state as a hub of transportation, agriculture, education and innovation. And our entrepreneurs and small businesses must be given the tools and training they need to succeed and create jobs,” she said.

Pierog explained that unemployment and underemployment are best overcome through education. With technology and innovation driving the economy and what it continues to evolve into, the workforce must learn the skills it needs to meet the demands of change.

“We need to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education for our children and job retraining opportunities for displaced workers,” she said.

While all of that goes on, which can take time to occur, Pierog said work needs to be done to provide economic relief sooner.

“Supposedly, there are two things in life we can’t avoid—death and taxes,” she said. “But just because we can’t avoid taxes doesn’t mean we can’t have some relief from too heavy tax burdens. People today are struggling to find jobs, to pay bills, to keep their homes. When they are hit with an annual high real estate tax, it can put them under water. Many residents in District 25 are faced with just this dilemma. They need relief.”

Pierog also wants to address an underlying issue statewide that she feels negatively impacts the entire system. She explained than Illinois contains nearly 7,000 governmental entities, and the volume of different political bodies creates the opportunity for corruption and lack of transparency, making any efforts to improve the state difficult, if not impossible.

“Obviously there appears to be no shortage of news about Illinois’ storied history of political corruption, and equally an enormous amount of ideas presented on how to make our government more ethical and transparent,” she said. “What seems to be missing, however, is the mandate from the voters to engage the change, by demanding through their voice and their vote a responsible and ethical government. I will be a candidate to champion that voice.”

Jim Oberweis
Republican
A lifelong entrepreneur, Jim Oberweis wants to see the trajectory change for the state of Illinois.

“I decided to run for this office because I want the future of Illinois to be better than the past,” he said. “I want my children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities with which I was blessed as a lifelong Aurora area resident. I see a decline in public safety, education, fiscal responsibility, employment opportunities and infrastructure. Illinois can and must improve in all aspects.”

Oberweis started Oberweis Asset Management from nothing, and helped build Oberweis Dairy from 50 employees to the more-than-1,000 employees it has today. He said that real-world business experience is what is required to turn the state around.

“I know what it takes to bring successful companies to Illinois, as well as to prevent companies from wanting to leave our state. I’ve had first-hand experience in dealing with government over-regulation, negotiating union contracts, providing health coverage to employees, and overcoming a variety of hurdles to build a successful business,” he said. “I want to take that knowledge to Springfield to get our state working again.”

Oberweis said he wants to make the state more “business friendly,” thereby securing more jobs and opportunities for Illinois residents. He intends to help solve the state’s underfunded pension issue, calling it a “mess,” and wants to make the state’s Workman’s Comp laws more like the surrounding states. Additionally, Oberweis wants to ensure that the temporary income tax increase is truly temporary, if not repealed outright.

“I will also work for term limits for state legislators. Eight years in any office is long enough,” Oberweis said. “We need to return to citizen legislators instead of career politicians.”

When addressing the state’s struggling economy, he said the first thing that needs to happen is to repeal the 67 percent increase in the state income tax.

“This was promised to be a temporary increase, and I plan on making sure it will be temporary.”

He said the economy will continue to stagnate until the state’s unfunded pension liability of over $80 billion is resolved. He suggested that the state consider changing the current defined benefits plan to a defined contribution plan for new state employees.

“This would begin to put us on the path of fiscal responsibility,” Oberweis said.

The key to accomplishing these goals is for a change in approach from state legislators. Instead of focusing on winning their next election, they should focus on solving problems.

“My focus will be on improving the future for Illinois, not on getting re-elected,” he said.”I will work with Republicans and Democrats to do the right things to solve our problems. I’ve been pretty good at getting people to work together in the past, and I believe I can do that in Springfield.”

Election 2012: U.S. House—14th District

in Nov. 6, 2012 by

Both incumbent, challenger focus on the economy
In the race for the representative from the 14th District of the U.S. House of Representatives, one-term incumbent Randy Hultgren faces challenger Dennis Anderson.

Randy Hultgren
Republican
Randy Hultgren is looking to a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives to continue his work focusing on the nation’s struggling economy.

“We’ve got to get our nation’s spending under control and get the economy back on a road to growth,” Hultgren said. As a father of four, I’m truly concerned for the future of our nation.”

His level of concern has not changed during the past two years of his freshman term.

“My first vote as a Congressman was to repeal the president’s massive health care law in full, and I still believe the law must be repealed,” he said.

With unemployment still too high and federal spending still too high, he said much work remains to be done beyond the federal health care law.
“Unemployment is still far too high. We were promised an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent if the stimulus was passed. Instead, millions of Americans are still unemployed or underemployed (working part time when they would rather be working full time),” he said. “Federal spending is also far too high. Washington would like to treat the economy as a cash tree—a new tax for every program, chopping off as much as it wants, whenever it wants. What Washington doesn’t understand is that the best way to allow the tree to grow more jobs and tax revenue organically is to simply leave it alone.”

Unemployment must be addressed by working with small businesses, he said, explaining that two of every three new jobs is created by a small business. Hultgren has met more than 100 small business owners and job creators in his district in the past year alone, and he always asks the business owner the same question:

“During each storefront visit and factory tour, I ask what it would take for that employer to create just one more job,” he said. “There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the U.S., and 23 million people who are under employed. If every small business could create just one job, we would have overemployment.”

He personally introduced a regulatory sunset bill that would address outdated rules and regulations that he feels stifle business growth.

Debt needs a comprehensive approach, he said. The only way he feels the federal government can control its spending is with a Balanced Budget Amendment.

“We absolutely need a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Hultgren said. “Without structural change, it will be near impossible to reign in Washington spending. A constitutional amendment would force the government to spend only what it takes in.”

He said such an amendment is necessary because the scale of the problem is so large.

“If the U.S. were to eliminate all discretionary spending—all defense spending, all highway repair money, all federal courts and government operations, even the money spent taking care of our returning veterans—the budget would almost be balanced for a single year. What this tells me is that we can take nothing—not even defense or entitlements—off the table when it comes to cuts. It took years to reach this point, and it will take years to balance our budget again, but I believe it can be done.”

Dennis Anderson
Democrat
Dennis Anderson has spent a lifetime in community service, volunteering on the boards of directors for a number of service organizations, ranging from humane societies to food banks.

He wants to continue serving the public, but now he wants to do so by changing what he calls the dysfunctional state of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The House has been frozen by partisan gridlock, and the people of this district, of Illinois and of the nation as a whole are not being served,” Anderson said. “Honesty and truth no longer seem to be held to be of any value by too many in Congress, and the people deserve thoughtful, honest representation, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent.”

He said Congress needs non-career politicians in office.

“I am not a career politician,” Anderson said. “I owe no debts to party or to special interests and, at the age of 61, I am not planning on starting a new career. I am running because we need change in Washington.”

All aspects of that change relate to the economy, he said. He will focus on bringing jobs to the district, increasing access to education and serving the historically under-represented.

“Recovery from the economic downturn requires the cooperative efforts of both parties in Washington, and between the public and the private sectors,” Anderson said. “That the government has a role in the recovery is accepted by both parties, as demonstrated by the ‘jobs bills’ that each have introduced.”

He said that one of the best things the federal government can do to improve the economy is to repair and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, specifically pointing to schools, bridges and water systems.

“To do so will not only create good paying jobs, jobs that will result in a revived customer base for small business, but will also save future generations from having to bear the cost of our neglect, a cost that rose by roughly half a trillion dollars between 2004 and 2009, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers,” Anderson said.

Like Hultgren, Anderson believes there should be a new plan to address the nation’s health care system. However, Anderson’s plan goes in the opposite direction as Hultgren’s. He said the cost of health care is out of control, and pointed to health indicator world rankings—specifically relating to infant mortality, maternal mortality and deaths due to care not obtained because of cost—that he said “are terrible.”

“If we truly had the world’s best health care system, as some often claim, our health status indicators would reflect that,” Anderson said.

He also pointed to the rising costs of health care as a drag on the economy. If he had his way, he would pass one piece of legislation to address the problem.

“If I had one chance to pass and implement any law, with no opposition, it would be the creation of a single-payer health care insurance system in the U.S.,” Anderson said.

However, Anderson said he knows that when addressing problems in Washington, no one gets their own way and all sides must work together.

“I am committed to engaging in fact-based, honest exchanges with other members of Congress and with the people of the 14th District,” Anderson said. “I also believe my many years in the public sector and as a volunteer have been helpful in training me to work with highly diverse parties to gain consensus.”

Election 2012: Kane County Board, District 5

in Nov. 6, 2012 by

Pair of candidates both seek to serve as tax money watch dogs
Republican incumbent Melisa Taylor is running for her second term representing District 5 on the Kane County Board. She faces Democrat challenger Norman Martin, who brings a background of public service as a former member of the United States Air Force and as a retired member of the Illinois State Police.

Melisa Taylor
Republican
Taylor plans to continue the same priorities as what originally led her to run for the office two years ago—serving as a steward of county taxpayer money.

“I initially ran for Kane County Board to help more than just Sugar Grove,” Taylor said. “With a Kane County budget of over $70 million, I felt it important to oversee where our tax money is being spent.”

To serve in that watchdog role, she said she plans to continue looking into every process within every department of the county, searching for the most efficient ways to obtain cost savings. She also is focused on the Kane County Animal Control Department.

“I will also continue to assist with the restructuring of the Kane County Animal Control Department to ensure that our pets are treated and sheltered with the utmost of care,” she said.

Another priority is continuing her efforts to freeze Kane County property tax levies.

“It is important that our government reflects the utmost respect for the contribution of each taxpayer,” Taylor said.

Knowing that these goals will require the input of the other members of the Kane County Board, she remains dedicated to developing strong relationships with her fellow board members.

“It is necessary to work with the other board members, and therefore I will continue to foster working relationships with the other board members, whether experienced or new to the board,” she said.

Overall, her efforts are economy-focused.

“The role of a Kane County Board member is to be the steward and watchdog of the revenue generated within Kane County to ensure the money is used to the benefit of all Kane County residents, homeowners and business owners,” Taylor said.

In addition to her efforts to help increase efficiencies and freeze tax rates, she also plans to help her constituents, one person at a time if need be.

“(I) will continue to advise residents of the Kane County services that are available to help them with assistance through these trying economic times,” she said.

Norman Martin Sr.
Democrat
While new to politics, Martin is not new to public service. Following his discharge from active duty in the Air Force, Martin served a full career as a police officer for the Illinois State Police, ultimately serving as Regional Commander, policing and patrolling Kane County for 13 years.

He chose to run for office because he sees a need for change at the county level, and he feels his past experience can help him directly address his concerns.

“As a taxpayer and resident, I am concerned about how our tax dollars are being spent, how responsive our elected officials are to the constituents they serve,” Martin said. “I want to use my knowledge and experiences to help ensure our county is doing the best it can to provide quality services to its customers who live, work and trade in the county and do so in a responsible and efficient manner.”

He said his first priority would be to control taxes, either keeping them the same or lowering them if possible. To help reduce the cost of government, he said the county should explore private/public partnerships.

He also wants to focus on making government act in an ethical manner.

“One that is responsible to its constituents. One that holds self and all county employees accountable for the consequences of their actions. One that governs transparently, and is a good steward to the assets and affairs of the county,” Martin said.

He also wants to help improve the quality of life for Kane County residents by promoting safe communities and developing a business-friendly climate.

“That will attract activities that support job creation,” Martin said. “(We need to) create sustainable, environmentally friendly policies and business practices.”

Addressing those priorities will require regular and effective communication with the residents within Martin’s district, something he looks forward to.

“I will work closely with my constituents to ensure the issues and concerns are clearly understood and their interests are properly represented. If elected, I pledge to use every resource available to me to help the county prosper,” Martin said. “Above all, I will operate with honesty and integrity at all times.”

Election 2012: Kane County Coroner

in Nov. 6, 2012 by

Candidates focus on restoring public’s trust in the office
Both challengers for the office of Kane County Coroner are in professions that relate to the office, so both bring a measure of experience to the race.

Tao Martinez
Democrat
Martinez is the president and founder of ArchAngels BioRecovery, Inc., a company dedicated to the assistance of families suffering from the tragic loss of a loved one and victims of violence. Services include infection control of hazardous environments that result from homicides, suicides, unattended deaths and mass-casualty incidents.

That experience often puts him in touch with coroners from throughout the Midwest and beyond, as well as the families of victims.

“I currently handle homicides, suicides, industrial accidents, and mass casualty incidents on a day to day basis, and it is my job to get directly involved with the families,” Martinez said. “It has always been my passion to help others during their worst times, and achieving this position would give me the opportunity to work on prevention, which is the only way that we can offset the number of deaths that we see currently.”

He said that if elected, he would turn his attention to restoring the public’s trust in the office.

“The reputation of the Coroner’s office has been tarnished, and it will take a lot of hard work to re-establish trust,” Martinez said. “The only way to start the healing process and repairing the image of this office is by establishing and enforcing a policy and procedural manual for all employees … As a team, improving the public image begins with building working relationships with various agencies, and focusing on raising community awareness toward programs that promote safety, health, education and life skills. Together we can work toward reducing the number of lost lives.”

Martinez also plans to streamline the office’s budget to address the financial challenges posed by the struggling economy. He said he has established relationships with other agencies to bring in resources and apply local funds to retain operations at no additional cost to the county. He also said that establishing mutual aid agreements with other nearby counties would qualify for Homeland Security Grant funds.

He said that while the primary function of the office is to determine the cause of death, there is another function he wants to ensure doesn’t get overlooked: focusing on community safety.

“As an elected official, not only is there an obligation to the office, but an obligation to the community,” Martinez said. “The best way to reduce the cost of operations within this office is to aggressively promote community awareness through various educational programs that will address domestic violence, drunk driving, bullying, drug abuse and many other acts of violence that can lead directly to homicides, suicides and accidental deaths. By following this approach, it is my belief that we would be saving funds, but most importantly, we will be saving lives.”

L. Robert ‘Rob’ Russell
Republican
Russell has 20 years of county law enforcement experience in all three sheriff bureaus: corrections, court security and patrol. He is currently a sergeant with the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, and feels that his experience and education are perfect for the role of Kane County Coroner.

“I have spent the majority of my working life serving the public as a law enforcement officer,” Russell said. “I have always looked for areas of need in which I could make a difference. I decided to run for coroner because the office was in need of a leader. I believe my qualifications best fit the job description, and I would like to have the opportunity to improve and professionalize this office.”

He said that upon taking office, he would focus his efforts on establishing clear-cut accountable policies and procedures, establishing a common-sense educational campaign to help prevent unnecessary deaths, and updating the current morgue facilities.

To deal with the policies and procedures, Russell would begin working with other coroners throughout Illinois.

“Most Illinois coroners provide a high level of compassionate service and are impeccably professional. I have, and will continue, to seek out those coroners who have maintained honor and integrity while serving in this vital office,” Russell said.

Russell said his efforts to raise community awareness would be centered on the most-common types of unnecessary deaths that occur in the county.

“Issues like DUI crashes, heroin and synthetic drug use are some of the issues that have plagued many of our young people,” Russell said. “One of the things I have already done is to print up bumper magnets that say ‘slow down-speed kills’. Several people have commented that they have seen these magnets on vehicles while driving around Kane County. Hopefully, this pro-active step has raised awareness and had an impact. I have many more ideas like this that I would like to bring to the office when elected.”

While Russell said he is focused on improving the office’s morgue facilities, he said he is not interested in building a new facility. Instead, he is interested in exploring resource sharing with area hospitals.

“Unfortunately, the most contact that people have with the Coroner’s Office is when tragedy strikes,” he said. “I do not want these victims to identify their loved ones in the dilapidated facilities that we currently have. It is important that families coming to the Coroner’s Office are shown compassion in a professional environment.”

Election 2012: Kane County Recorder

in Nov. 6, 2012 by

Longtime incumbent faces challenger
While many elected county offices will be filled by someone new regardless of who wins on Election Day, the race for Kane County Recorder features a longtime incumbent, Sandy Wegman, facing a challenge from Brenda Rogers.

Sandy Wegman
Republican
After spending the last 12 years as Kane County Recorder, Wegman said she is looking to continue her track record of continual improvements and upgrades while remaining budget conscious.

“Having played a vital role in the design and development of our land records systems, I am seeking re-election because I want to ensure that the system stays in place and new technologies are implemented along the way,” Wegman said.

She pointed to her past accomplishments as reasons why she deserves another term in office. She said she has streamlined the office, consolidated services and implemented new technology, all while staying within budget. She currently serves as President of the Illinois Association of County Clerks & Recorders (Zone IV), a leadership position she feels is an example of the success she has brought to her role.

“In a time when we are required to do more with less, I have a proven track record of implementing improvements that benefit the taxpayers of Kane County,” she said.

The Recorder’s Office is solely fee-funded, Wegman explained, meaning that the office is funded entirely by the fees it charges and not with tax dollars. She said it is vital that the office remains within budget each year, and this would continue to be her number-one priority.

Being able to do more with less means finding new ways to accomplish tasks, and that means utilizing new technology as it becomes available, she said.

“The Recorder’s Office is one of the most technologically advanced offices at the county,” she said. “It is important to provide the necessary upgrades that will allow our technology not to become dated so that we can continue to provide the services that are expected by the users.”

She also is focused on completing the rewrite of the office’s Land Records System.
“This will allow us to take advantage of new technologies that will make the system easier to support, upgrade and use,” she said.

Overall, Wegman said the goal of the office is to provide better service while using fewer resources. She said that the past 12 years show she knows how to accomplish that.

“Under my leadership, the Recorder’s Office has always come in under budget,” she said.

She said that streamlining the office has been an ongoing project, evidenced by the fact that Recorder’s Office staff has been reduced from 33 to 19. At the same time, the office has improved its ability to serve the public, she said.

“Through innovative technology which allows e-recording of documents and instant return of documents, the Recorder’s Office has reduced the flow of paper, which eliminates the cost of postage and allows for immediate access to data and/or images,” Wegman said.

Brenda Rogers
Democrat
Rogers would not only focus on the task of recording documents and utilizing new technology, she said she would also do so while spending extra effort protecting the public’s identity from identity thieves and offering public seminars to raise awareness as well.

She said that as she has met more people from the county, she realized that many people were not even aware of the office of Kane County Recorder, nor what its responsibilities are.

“So, as the recorder, I will go that extra mile by doing educational seminars that will include explaining to our residents the duties of the recorder. I will do foreclosure and identity theft prevention seminars, as well as indexing documents,” Rogers said.

While she agrees that utilizing new technology is vital, it must be done so responsibly.

“Protecting our resident’s privacy by removing their signatures from documents that are online (is a priority),” Rogers said. “Having their signature online is a way for individuals to steal their signature, and it is one of the first steps of identity theft.”

She said that closely watching the budget and utilizing technology to reduce costs are important, and her 20-year background as a Realtor gives her the experience she needs to do so.

“I believe my background as a Realtor is helpful to the position,” Rogers said. “I have experience working with multi-million dollar budgets. I have been a Realtor for over 20 years, and as a Realtor I have had the opportunity to work with first-time buyers, those moving up, empty-nesters and developers. And since the office deals with documents related to ownership of property, I believe I am the best candidate for the position.”

Rogers said that her efforts would go beyond the traditional office hours; she plans to spend extra time with the public helping educate them and raise their awareness of issues that should be important to them.

“Many employers have asked their employees to do more with less, and the recorder should do the same,” Rogers said. “I believe that we have to give the residents value by going above and beyond for them. As the recorder, I will be in the office during the day and in the community in the evening doing educational seminars for them. I will have an open dialogue with the users of the office and the residents of the county.”

She said she would plan quarterly educational seminars that will include foreclosure prevention and identity theft prevention. She said the office’s website would have a question-and-answer section, and she would stay abreast of new technology. All of this would be focused on providing more services for less cost, while at the same time protecting the public.

“Next to your family, your property is your most valued possession, and I want to protect it for you,” she said.

Election 2012: KC Board Chairman

in Nov. 6, 2012 by

Both candidates bring elected experience, focus on changing county culture
In the race for Kane County Board Chairman, both candidates feature a long history in holding elected office. Sue Klinkhamer served eight years as an Alderman in St. Charles, followed by another eight years as St. Charles Mayor. Chris Lauzen has served as an Illinois State Senator in the 25th District since 1992.

Chris Lauzen
Republican
Lauzen said he chose to run for the office because he believes it is time to reform how the county functions. He said that escalating property taxes are a significant problem. In addition, he pointed to what he says is the increasing perception of pay-to-play politics within the county, which he feels has damaged the morale of taxpayer and county employee alike.

“… they see the politically connected few benefit while the grassroots many of us stagnate,” he said. “There is a critical mass of people who want and will work for reform.”

He strongly disagrees with Klinkhamer’s view on adding a County Administrator position to the county.

“I am more closely aligned with voters’ desires to freeze the county property tax levy, to end political campaign contribution cronyism, to bring best practices to the county, not hire and delegate county administration to a highly paid, electorally unaccountable administrator,” Lauzen said.

His number-one priority is to freeze the 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 then focus on ending what he calls the “Kane County Culture of Cronyism.” He said that too many political contributions come from people with something specific to gain in return for their financial support.

He would seek to find best practices from both inside and outside of the county to help find ways to reform the way Kane County conducts its business.

He would do this “by intensely listening, providing accurate information, treating all people respectfully, gathering consensus around taxpayers’ priorities of limiting the growth of government, restoring trust in public institutions, and increasing per capita prosperity in Kane County.”

Economically, he believes the county should help coordinate the efforts of existing Chambers of Commerce, as well as changing how county government serves employers. He has a five-step strategic plan to accomplish this:
“ • Streamline the permit process, setting predictable, prompt standards for response.
• Coordinate a framework of incentives countywide to minimize tensions of regional ‘bidding wars.’
• Partner with private industry and educational institutions through quarterly roundtable discussions and employer forums.
• Coordinate planning for infrastructure among federal, state, local agencies, and developers who are willing to invest their capital.
• Establish a Kane County Cooperative Clearinghouse website and portal to exchange and exploit innovative ideas, equipment and services, especially in the areas of access to capital.”

He explained that this type of cooperative clearinghouse could also learn from successful businesses already operating in Kane County.

He said this is all possible by collaborating with the various members of the County Board and county staff.

“The strength of board-style governance is multiple perspectives and contributions (with checks and balances), not personal political aggrandizement,” he said. “Together, we will do more with less.”

Sue Klinkhamer
Democrat
Klinkhamer says that her depth of experience will serve her well in the office she categorized as the “legislative leader in the county.”

She points to her 16 years on the City Council of St. Charles—including eight as mayor—in addition to her more-recent stints as the Deputy Director of the City of Chicago’s Washington D.C. Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (2006-08) and time spent as District Director for Congressman Bill Foster (2008-10).

“My experience and background are well suited to this position, particularly my history of being a leader who succeeded by building consensus, a quality that is greatly needed to move the county forward at this time,” Klinkhamer said.

Once taking office, Klinkhamer would turn her attention to making the County Board function more effectively and efficiently. One of her first efforts would be to retain a County Administrator.

“As our neighboring counties have learned, a professional administrator is vital to ensuring that a county is functioning efficiently,” Klinkhamer said. “Reaching this goal will help to ensure that information from all county departments is funneled through to all board members through a single office, which will ensure greater efficiency, eliminate duplication of efforts, and allow for greater transparency.”

She would also change how the County Board functions, changing the group from having multiple committees in favor of a Committee of the Whole structure. This would reduce the influence of the County Board Chairman, who currently has the authority to grant committee chair assignments.

“Adopting this format should also eliminate projects moving forward in such a way that not all County Board members are aware of their details before they come up for a vote, which should in turn assist in relieving some of the tension that has in the past resulted in lawsuits which have proved to be very costly to Kane County taxpayers,” Klinkhamer said.

Klinkhamer said she would also push to cut the County Board Chairman’s pay by 25 percent, as well as eliminate the full-time benefits currently available for County Board members.

“Any time elected officials start talking about cuts, taxpayers should absolutely demand they talk about cutting their own salaries and benefits before they go after services vital to the health and well-being of taxpayers,” Klinkhamer said.

With a refined internal structure, Klinkhamer would focus on transforming tension into a collaboration. She said she would make sure that all team members at the county, including elected officials and hired staff, are respected and recognized for their contributions to serving the public. She would also seek to focus on building consensus “where there has often been contention among these different partners.”

A more-efficient, fully functioning county could then be more effective in working with the various municipalities inside the county.

She said she would “work with the municipalities to coordinate their existing excellent economic development efforts, strengthen our county’s urbanized core, and better our transportation system.”

Yet, to get to that point, Klinkhamer pointed back to the very first things that she said would create a better-functioning foundation for success: Hiring a County Administrator and switching to a Committee of the Whole structure.

“Until this is done, none of the fundamental issues underlying both ethics questions and in-fighting that have plagued the county—and have resulted in lawsuits costly to the taxpayer—are likely to be resolved,” Klinkhamer said.

Health care business benefits from Fox Valley entrepreneurs

in Elections/Featured/Regional by

Photo: FVEC Organizing Committee member Joe Abraham speaks at the FVEC event in Batavia. Courtesy Photo

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn resident Maria Kuhn and her partner Dr. Christina Krause launched their award-winning Integrated Health Advocacy Program (IHAP) over a decade ago. Through their business, Benefit Performance Associates, LLC, Kuhn and Krause have used IHAP to address the health care needs of individuals with multiple chronic illnesses, while reducing the health care costs of the employers who provide health care benefits for these individuals.

Kuhn said that employers spend 80 percent of their health care dollars on 20 percent of their employee population—people with anywhere from five to 15 health problems. According to Kuhn, within the first year of using their program, employers make back a dollar for every dollar they spend on the program. Over the following years, employers save from $3 to $8 for every dollar they spend.

However, the focus is not strictly on saving money, she said. Their goal is to help these very sick individuals make better health decisions, feel better, and attain their best state of health.

“It’s a win-win for the participants, the employers and the clinicians who work with them,” Krause said.

Although the company was experiencing much success with their program, their business model for providing this service was not structured in a way that allowed the company to grow. This is where the Waubonsee Community College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) came in.

SBDC Director Harriet Parker saw the potential this business had for larger- scale success, and she introduced Kuhn and Krause to several of the business consultants with the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center.

The pair began their work with Joe Abraham, Founder and CEO of BOSI, and author of the book, Entrepreneurial DNA. They took Abraham’s assessment to help them to understand their approach to business (Builder, Opportunist, Specialist, Innovator), what their business strengths were, and how they could leverage them in their own business.

Abraham spent a couple of sessions with the partners, helping them to flesh out their business strategy and modify their business model. They changed their direct sales model to one that relied on partnering with their larger customers to distribute their program more widely.

Parker and Bob Mann, attorney and health care benefits expert, helped them to refine their sales presentation and come up with a more concise message. They also addressed several sales concerns and how the partnerships could be structured, helped them develop a realistic pricing structure and identify negotiating points for various scenarios with potential customers.

Kuhn and Krause are currently in discussions with their first customer under the new model, a large health care broker in Indiana. This new contract has the potential to bring them $300,000 worth of revenue.

They are also in their next phase of work with the FVEC, in which they are working with systems guru Andy Parker to streamline their data collection and create more efficient systems.

“We feel excited and energized,” Kuhn said. “The questions (the consultants asked us) were practical. We learned so much. There’s so many people in the Fox Valley who are committed to making small businesses grow.”

Summary background of the FVEC
The Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center (FVEC) was created in 2010 through a partnership between the Waubonsee Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Center for Business Education Innovation and Development (CBEID).

Funded in part through a grant from the U.S. SBA Small Business Jobs Act, the FVEC is made up of entrepreneurs and business leaders from the Fox Valley area who work with entrepreneurs identified through the SBDC. These small businesses might be in start-up mode, launching a new product, expanding into different markets or innovating and doing new things.

The mission of the FVEC is to help small businesses enhance their success and stimulate economic growth in the Fox Valley.

Successful entrepreneurs provide small businesses with CEO training and mentoring, strategic introductions, and assist in areas such as increasing revenue, improving marketing strategies, business planning and any number of operational issues.

According to SMDC Director
Harriet Parker, FVEC has:
• Helped more than
30 companies
• Raised more than $1.9 million
in debt and equity financing
• Created 50 new jobs

Goaltender Lekkas brings fire to the ice

in Elections/Featured/Miscellaneous by

Photo: Stefanos Lekkas looks to don the mask for AAA hockey once again this year, after competing at a USA Hockey camp in N.Y. Courtesy photo

Elburn resident gearing up for elite camp in N.Y.
by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—Stefanos Lekkas, 16, of Elburn has his particular tools of the trade.

“My mask is white, with all-white straps and an all-white cage,” Lekkas said. “I just fell in love with it early on.”

That’s a common theme for the honor-roll student from Kaneland, who finds a lot to love about the sport of hockey.

Threaded throughout his family, including his two siblings, Lekkas could be seen tending goal for area hockey outlets like the amateur Chicago Mission for the past four years.

Now, Lekkas prepares to head to Rochester, N.Y. for a USA Hockey National Player Development Camp held from July 7-13, at the Sports Centre.

Lekkas is slated for the Youth Select 16 grouping.

It’s no small feat; Lekkas was one of eight goaltenders selected, after being chosen from an Illinois group, and then a five-state grouping in the Midwest.

Lekkas relishes the opportunity to be between the posts, even with the players by definition being the best of a particular area.

“It’s fun, because everyone has respect for each other and everyone is a great hockey player,” Lekkas said.

He was selected by the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League in their futures draft in May, and while not being selected for the under-20 team after a tryout camp earlier this month, he remains property of the franchise.

“I have another year and I’m optimistic that something can happen. They could still call me up as a prospect on a weekend if they need someone,” Lekkas said.

At 5-foot-10, 155 pounds, Lekkas makes the most of his frame with a hybrid style of goaltending.

“With hybrid, you mix technique with athleticism. I’m not tall enough to be a standup goalie and it’s different from butterfly,” Lekkas said.

Lekkas doesn’t consider himself done even when off the ice, taking in National Hockey League contests on occasion.

“I’ve been up to Detroit three or four times a year to see a game. I like Toronto, and my favorite team is the Montreal Canadiens,” Lekkas said.

Lekkas is eyeing his next move once the gathering out East concludes.

“I’ll be skating with a AAA team somewhere and want to do a goalie camp,” Lekkas said.

Wherever Lekkas stops one-timers next and on whatever level, it stands to be tough to get the ice out of his blood from now on.

“It’s more than a sport. You’re with a family and it’s cool to be around. I’ll always get used to more hockey time.”

Hybrid goaltenders in the NHL include:
Jonathan Quick
Ryan Miller
Martin Brodeur
Jaroslav Halak

2012 Primary election results

in March 20, 2012 by

The following results are from local contested races, and have been aggregated from the counties of Kane, Kendall, DuPage and Cook, as well as the Aurora Election Commission. The results are considered unofficial, and the winners are in bold.

Illinois State Senate
25th District
Republicans
Dave Richmond 6,616
Richard C. Slocum 4,520
Jim Oberweis 10,816

Democrats
Corinne M. Pierog 2,784
Steven L. Hunter 1,413

Kane County Circuit Clerk
Thomas M. Hartwell 17,648
Catherine S. Hurlbut 9,340
Karin M. Herwick 7,951

Kane County Auditor
Terry Hunt 14,863
Laura C. Wallett 12,559
Karl Regnier 5,687

Kane County Coroner
L. Robert Russell 17,494
Robert Nicholas Tiballi 16,011

Kane County Board Chairman
Republicans
Kevin R. Burns 11,424
Chris Lauzen 25,963

Democrats
Bill Sarto 4,255
Sue Klinkhammer 5,567

Referendums
Unincorporated Kane County
Electrical Aggregation
Yes 4,006
No 4,209

Village of Elburn
New tax rate for police pension
Yes 204
No 492

Village of Maple Park
Electrical Aggregation
Yes 100
No 67

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.

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