A Friend of McHenry County Blog took some notes last night at the McHenry County Board District 6 candidates’ night at Marengo High School.
Here’s they are:
District 6 candidates for County Board held at the Marengo High School on March 2nd
The Marengo Chamber of Commerce hosted this program.
It was a requirement for questions from the public to be written on small post it notes and turned in prior tohe start of the program.
Each response was monitored for time to just a couple of minutes so answers were often times hard to follow because many of the questions were very complex. In addition, it was impossible for the udience to ask additional questions for further explanation on topics of importance.
That said this process did keep the program on course, on time and fair and covered a broad range of issues.
Each candidate was asked to give a short introduction and explain his or her background.
Mary McCann is a former teacher of science for 12 years before becoming a businessperson with her own berry farm in Marengo/ Woodstock area. Mary has been on the county board for 8 years and said she has made considerable improvements in the Building services area, Mental Health Board and in defining the UDO. Mary feels enforcement of the UDO’s in McHenry County have been lax an example being the water contamination issue.
Mary says her campaign is about balance on the County Board. She said more Marengo residents need to bring their concerns to her because the Board is very busy with issues they are working on.
She asks that all taxpayers take a long hard look at the school spending problem and run for the school boards in our community.
She has introduced a concept which she is still implementing called Contract board solutions which is a process used in other counties.
Mary does not think that the County board should be involved in Township consolidations decisions. She is also in favor of smaller county boards and thinks the current number should be reduced to 12.
She has been working with the county assessor’s office Bob Ross on the potential to reduce property tax’s for the homeowners in Marengo who have contaminated well water.
Mary quoted a study done by DuPage County that found three areas of the County Board that can be looked into for savings. Wastewater department, Fire Departments and Shared services with Townships. Mary did say that big spending is now required on the government buildings because they have not been maintained properly for years and very expensive things like roofing and mechanicals like heating /air conditioners all need to be replaced.
Mary knows of the recent problems among neighbors in Marengo due to constant day and night shooting which is taking place on small and even empty spaces up for sale casing a nuisance for other homeowners whose quality of life has been greatly and negatively impacted.
Preston Rea. Highly educated in areas of public health. Has served on many boards, is a current Township Supervisor, and has more than 30 years of business experience. He claims to have lowered taxes in his area to property tax’s being lower now than in 2006. Although no mention was made as to the enormous reduction of home values in our area.
Preston from his literature is in favor of taxpayer-subsidized improvement to the RT. 62/Algonquin Road intersection. Hotly debated issues among tax watch dogs and the County Board.
Sighted many times that Marengo MUST be economically developed. Said that Winnebago, Boone and other counties are in discussion and looking to Marengo as an untapped jewel and have visions of what new growth could look like.
Unfortunaly no mention of what the people of Marengo want for their community.
In favor of spending on infrastructure in order to attract economic investments to the Marengo area.
In favor of the Route 23 I90, interchange and organizing committees on the County Board to spur economic development in Marengo so more taxpayers will come into the area and help to support spending needs for the County.
Preston said that at this time there is “No Way” that townships can be consolidated. Preston mentioned this position approximately six times during the discussions.
Preston is absolutely baffled by the lack of action being taken by the State of Illinois EPA over the Marengo contamination problem pointing out that the more water is pumped the larger the plum of contamination is spread.
He does think that the County Board should reduce by half-so areas only had one representative on the board. He did not elaborate as to why or what benefits the people would have from this reduction.
The strengths that Preston brings to the position are; He speaks his mind has the experience, team player, and can reduce his perceived existing acrimony in the board and he can pull people together.
James Kearns is a Townships Supervisor of Grafton Township since 2013 and claims to have reduced the offices fiscal debt. From negative $500,000. To a surplus of $700,000.
He is a successful business owner of a Pet food company and has a degree in Agriculture.
James acknowledged 10 times through out the meeting that the Township could not be consolidated.
James believes strongly that the County should be simplified and should not have say so over what type of business people have on their property. He sighted the storm water issue and how long it takes to get a permit from McHenry soil and water. He feels these County requirements are not necessary (the storm water permit requirements are a safe guard against other people’s adjacent property being negatively impacted by floods, poisons, contamination or other issues). James feels the UDO goes far too far in regulations.
James feels the Rt. 23 interchange is a requirement for Marengo’s future growth or Marengo will fly away much like Harvard. Just turn to dust.
James is in favor of anything that can spur economic growth. Block grants Economic expansion units, T.I.F’s and studies. In addition, reduced oversight of the Planning & Development departments of McHenry County and reduction of enforcement of the UDO’s.
Ersel Schuster is a successful businesswoman M.B.A. Accounting. Owning several businesses has been on the County Board before and has served on every committee so she has deep understanding of the history of the McHenry County Board. Ersel has been a champion for the Marengo people effected by the ground water issue and has been devoting her own time, attention and resources to fighting for a solution on their behalf. She rolls up her sleeves, to always be available and believes her role on the County Board is to be an advocate for the taxpayer.
Ersel points out that the first step in attacking business to the community is a healthy business environment, low tax’s, supportive Government departments and services. If we have, a healthy County business will be attracted to move here. She points out that careful consideration must be done by the County to encourage new business to develop close to the municipalities because the infrastructure is already in place to support new business. This is critical to keeping tax’s low for the taxpayer and avoiding costly T.I.F. districts.
Ersel referred to a study done in September that she presented to the board that has listed several areas where savings and restructuring can offer potential savings to the taxpayer. These suggestions include plans on areas of savings and implementation.
The County Board should be diligent in enforcing the UDO’s and following important zoning requirements in order to handle growth and avoid boondoggles like the Motorola plant being built far outside of the municipalities infrastructure and costing the tax payer unnecessary expense. In addition, the people should have input on the growth in rural areas.
The people of Marengo should have a say so on the RT. 23 Interchange expansion. The residents may not want it and this should be considered.
Ersel pointed out that if the County Board is reduced then additional staff will be required to support the small board team along with private offices and perhaps additional costs of Car allowances or other benefits etc. These additional supports will far outweigh any potential savings.
Since she has experience on the Board Ersel can hit the ground running if re-elected to the board. She has her eyes set on savings and how to implement some of her plans on behalf of the taxpayer. She says she is there to get results not go along simply to go along.
Ersel feels that it is up to the Taxpayer to decide on Township consolidation although she feels smaller Government is typically more efficient and effective. She has experience reducing Township expenses and improving services to the community.
Kelly Liebmann is a successful Logistics expert with a great deal of administrative and project management experience. Driving complex large high value projects where every dollar is critical to the overall success of the project. Kelly’s ability to research subject material and sort through to the critical success factors could add value to many of the McHenry County board committee’s process.
Kelly is not in favor of the Rt. 23 Interchange because she feels the costs do not translate to viable business as shown by the type of business opened up around the route 20 Interchange. The potential (2) two T.I.F. projects being proposed will be costing the Marengo taxpayers a great deal of additional tax burden and all tax payers need to be aware of this. As we know, T.I.F districts only benefit the builders and investors involved. Study after study has proven this repeatedly. Most taxpayer’s have little knowledge of the burden placed on them regarding T.I.F’s.
Kelly pointed out that studies also show that Economic committees have a notorious habit of creating corruption from nepotism, favors, and tax increments to the taxpayer, bonded debt; eminent domain land grabs even bribes. Any Economic development committees must be closely monitored to ensure the best possible interest of the taxpayer and voter is being represented.
Kelly is not in favor of Block Grants because studies show this is another burden to the taxpayer. What appears, as free money is indeed a debt to the taxpayer? Kelly quoted a Lake Forest study as confirmation.
Clearly, Kelly has a great understanding of taxing increments being placed on the back of Marengo and McHenry County taxpayers. Quoting several examples of respected studies confirming her position.
As to Township Consolidations Kelly, feels we have far greater tax issues to address than the Township issue. Kelly is not in favor of reducing taxpayer representation on the County Board and is concerned that too few people have too much power and not enough check’s and balances.
Kelly spoke passionately about people her age not being able to afford a mortgage and the tax’s in McHenry County. Many of her friends and family have relocated elsewhere out of state due to these taxes’ and lack of employment opportunities in Illinois. The tide must be shifted. The tax increases stopped.
She can connect with the younger generation in McHenry and understand their concerns and issues. She will bring a representation of millennial’s to the County Board if elected.