Clifford Surges: Candidate profile
Name: Clifford Surges
Office sought: Kane County Board District 21
Occupation: Insurance Professional
Education: Bachelor Degree from Eastern Illinois University
Civic involvement: Past Board Member of Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, Member of NFIB, Member of several PACs,
Coach, Mentor, Current Trustee for School District 300 Foundation for Educational Excellence,
Destination Dundee Treasurer, Badged Kairos Volunteer at Pontiac Correctional Center.
Elected offices held: Trustee, Village of Gilberts
Questions & Answers
Question 1: If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?
I bring 25 years of small business ownership representing a Fortune 300 company, experience in serving as a past public official, and working on volunteer boards within our community. I have learned over the years that listening is typically the key to understanding the true challenges. Having the ability to collaborate with others or facilitate through obstacles has taken a lifetime to learn. I also believe that to be successful, you must stay informed and do your research. The County is complex and having an understanding of its budget, the budgeting process and board dynamics is important. I feel I have that unique skill set.
Question 2: What is the single‐biggest need in your district?
We are doing a solid job in our district with law enforcement, safety and transportation, but being actively involved with organizations such as Destination Dundee, I see the ongoing struggle of our businesses and have become concerned with the vacancy rate of our store fronts, restaurants and Spring Hill Mall. The implications cast a wide net as the County and local revenue base in our area seeds first from property taxes and second from other taxes such as sales tax.
Question 3: Is the county doing enough to control expenses? What additional, specific steps do you recommend?
I believe the county is working diligently to control expenses as seen in the County Tax Freeze and outlined in the mandate study. We cannot spend beyond our means. While this is easy to say and statistics indicate the County is doing a great job at this, it will only continue to be a bigger challenge.
Question 4: The county commissioned a study to determine which services are mandated and which are not in preparation for a deeper budget cut. Do you believe the county must continue to reduce costs? If so, which non‐mandated services would you cut or reduce? Under what circumstances would you support a
The 74 page study was interesting to read and helped define certain areas of confusion for me.
Most business owners understand the responsibility of constantly evaluating spending and alternatives.
Managing waste, eliminating redundancies, prioritizing limited budgets, getting more with less; this cycle is never ending. Add some time tested methods that are now being challenged with improved technologies and the vigilance is more important than ever.
However as a County official, it is more than a responsibility to be a good steward of our tax money; it is an obligation. All line items should be reviewed for efficiencies annually, mandated or not.
The property tax freeze in Kane County has been successful along with healthy reserves, diminishing bond debt and proper pension funding. Therefore, I do not support a Property Tax increase.
Question 5: What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
It is important that we all mature to a degree that allows us to work as a collaborative that stretches past politics and focuses on the true work at hand. The County is multifaceted with many challenges and diverse personalities. We need to set aside differences while we look at what is best for our community and the right thing to do for generations to come.
Question 6: Do you support the Longmeadow Parkway project and, if not, what can be done at this point to stop construction and/or mitigate its impact?
I am not sure I would have voted for the Longmeadow Parkway project at the time it was brought before
the board, but I will work hard to ensure that every promise that was made and condition placed will be
followed through to their entirety.
Question 7: Do you support a sunset provision for charging tolls on Longmeadow Parkway after it's built?
Whether supported or not, my understanding is that it is a 30 year agreement that is legislated at the State level. However, I would expect that the assumptions being used to be updated once traffic patterns change and the stretch reaches a normal capacity.
Question 8: What's the hardest decision you ever had to make?
My wife and I lost several pregnancies. We ultimately have three wonderful children, but each pregnancy took a toll on my wife physically and we were labeled high risk.
A few months into our final pregnancy and being in our thirties, a nurse asked us if we would like to take "the test" for our unborn child. When I asked what "the test" was for, she explained the amniocentesis test is for the potential of abnormalities in the child with high risk, older mothers.
The question shook me to my core and to this day I remember standing there in silence and disbelief for a question about a test I didn't know existed and was unprepared to answer.
We did not perform the test and my daughter is a terrific 20 year old junior at Baylor University.