ALAW Questionnaire Questionnaire for Ersel Schuster

I’m going to put up as many of the Alliance for Land, Agriculture and Water questionnaires as I can get to.

Endorsed candidates are

  • District 1: Andrew Gasser
  • District 2: Donna Kurtz
  • District 3: Nancy
  • District 4: John Hammerand
  • District 5: John Jung Jr. and Zane Seipler
  • District 6: Ersel Schuster

ALAW County Board Candidates Survey: Primary Election March 18, 2014


1.What scenario would necessitate an increase in the county’s tax levy and what are your parameters for determining the magnitude of that increase?

Ersel Schuster

Ersel Schuster

2. Do you agree with the recently passed 2014 legislative agenda of the county including support for legislation that grants counties more permissive authority and the ability to expand non-property tax revenue sources? (Can be found in the January 21, county board meeting packet). Why or why not?

While not in complete support of all items in the McHenry County Legislative Agenda, the vast majority of the issues were important enough to garner my support for the package.

I disagree with the element of the legislative agenda seeking “permissive authority & the ability to expand non-property tax revenue sources.”

In any event, any such non-property tax revenue increase requires an individual action that can be defeated.

3. Can you identify five specific areas of concern in the Unified Development Ordinance that are being discussed or have recently been discussed in the joint Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning and Development Committee meetings?

While there are many issues within the UDO that concern me, the following top my list:

  1. Agritourism
  2. Home operated business
  3. Farmstand
  4. SARA map
  5. Dwelling Unit, Ancillary

4. What areas, if any, of County government could be more efficient and save taxpayers money? If you believe there are services or functions that could be more efficient, how would you (or how have you, if incumbent) formally review County programs to ensure their necessity and improve their efficiency?

We have been successful in reducing county spending over the last three years by engaging department heads in eliminating every ounce of fat they’ve had in their budgets. The result has enabled us to refuse the annual cost of living tax increase for the last two budget years. We broke the back of what has been “standard operating procedures” for this government.

A suggestion for greater cost cutting is to have every department, under the County Board’s control, identify all non-mandated programs or services they provide.

Once defined, department heads and public officials would be asked to defend the retention of each such program. Lacking sufficient defense, those programs and/or services could be bid-out to private providers, or eliminated.


5. During past primary elections, candidates for county offices voluntarily filled out the ALAW initiated Addendum to Statement of Economic Interests BEFORE the election. This form is now required once you are elected, but filing it now with us is entirely voluntary. ALAW will not endorse any candidate who does not fill out the form. Will you fill out and file your form with us now? (Form attached with mailing instructions.)


6. Tell us why you do or do not think the county board chair should be popularly elected and if the referendum passes, how do you propose to protect the integrity of the election process from big money and special interests?

I do not support the election of the McHenry County Board chairman at large.

It is no accident that McHenry County is at the top of the list of the 102 counties in the state. We are a financial solvent and well run County under our current system.

If you like the way Cook County or even Springfield are managed; by all means, support the referendum. However, keep in mind that the average citizen would find it difficult to finance a campaign for this office without accepting donations that eventually, and unfortunately, do have an affect on future actions by the office holder.

Under the chair elected at large, the 24 county board members would write the County Board Rules defining the relationship between themselves and the elected chairman. That however, does not give the county board any control over “big money” and “special interest” issues that arise where this much power is placed in the hands of a single person.

7. Have you accepted donations from any organization that does business with the County? If so, please provide details.


8. What have you done to prepare yourself for the office you seek?

I have 29 years in public service, citizen’s initiatives, and participation in/with issues affecting the work done by the county board.


9. What do you foresee as a solution when the county population reaches a level that the aquifers can no longer support? Alternatively what do you see as a way to avoid this crisis?

Protecting our aquifers, our water supply, is one of my deepest concerns for McHenry County residents. To avoid the predicted crisis means we need public officials, at all levels, with spines of steel.

If our aquifers cannot support population projections, the county board, municipalities and villages must accept some real life realities. Limiting the population and development is the only way this will be accomplished. Without the water… nothing else matters.

10. Would you oppose any land use change that would exceed a locally recharged aquifer’s capacity?


11. Do you support redistributing groundwater from water-rich areas to areas that have over drawn their groundwater?


12. Do you agree with the proposition that new development should be located where infrastructure exists, to minimize the extension of new roads, utilities and services, protect farmland and water recharge areas, and minimize the concurrent tax increases for existing residents?


13. Should transportation improvements be evaluated based upon their return on investment and prioritized according to this cost/benefit analysis (i.e. Randall Rd. and Rt. 62 intersection)? For example, do you support the $115 million plan to fix 3½ miles of Randall Road, including the intersection at Route 62?  

How do you measure the benefit to the taxpayers of this proposed expenditure?

a. Yes

b. No

c. As a non-engineer, were I to gauge benefits and costs of a project such as this 3.5 miles of Randall Road, I would need to look in the rear view mirror. Frankly, since the interchange at Randall & I90 was completed, I have lost track of the number of upgrades and changes made to this particular section of county road.

My point is that each upgrade and change was supposed to solve the “traffic problems” for decades. Frankly, I am skeptical this proposed $115 + million dollar plan would change anything, much less be worth the cost.

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