Sidney Mathias: Candidate Profile:
Name: Sidney Mathias
City: Buffalo Grove
Office sought: Lake County Board District 20
Occupation:: Lake County Board Member -- District 20 & Lake County Forest Preserves Commissioner
Education: Bachelor's degree in mathematics from Roosevelt University and Juris Doctor from DePaul University Law School
Civic involvement: President, Congregation Beth Judea, Long Grove (2017 -- present), Chairman, Holocaust Services Committee for Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago (2017 -- present), Board Member for Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago (2005 -- present), Member, Buffalo Grove Chamber of Commerce (1990 -- present), Former President, Northwest Suburban Jewish Community Center (1986 -- 1988), Commissioner, Village of Buffalo Grove, Zoning Board of Appeals (1983 -- 1988), Former Chairman, North Central Service Mayoral Task Force (1997 -- 1999), Former President, Northwest Municipal Conference (1996 -- 1997), Former Member, Illinois Municipal League (1996 -- 1999), Former Board Member and Officer, Lake County Municipal League (1996 -- 1999), Former Member, Illinois Route 53/120 Blue Ribbon Advisory Council, Former Member, Corridor Planning Council of Central Lake County (1991 -- 1997), Former Member, National League of Cities, Transportation and Communications Committee (1995 -- 1999), Former Lake County Commissioner, Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (1997 -- 1999), Former First Vice-Chair, Chicago Area Transportation Study Executive Council of Mayors (1996 -- 1999), Former Chairman, Chicago Area Transportation Study Northwest Council of Mayors (1993 -- 1999) Former Director, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (1991 -- 1999), Former Arbitrator, Cook County Circuit Court (1996 -- 2000), Former Member, College of Lake County, South Lake Campus Advisory Planning Council (1994 -- 2010), Former Member, Roosevelt University Schaumburg Campus Advisory Committee.
Elected offices held: Lake County Board Member -- District 20 (2014 -- present), Lake County Forest Preserves Commissioner (2014 -- present), State Representative -- 53rd District (2003 -- 2013), State Representative -- 51st District (1999 -- 2003), Village President, Village of Buffalo Grove (1991 -- 1999), Village Trustee, Village of Buffalo Grove (1988 -- 1991)
Questions & Answers
Question 1: If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led.
My biggest initiative has been to increase transparency to my constituents. I believe that they should always be well-informed and know what I am doing on their behalf on the Lake County Board. That is why I consistently send out newsletters, postcards, and attend various events/forums so I can connect and inform my constituents of new developments from the board. I represent my constituents on the board and they should always hear from me and know I am being as transparent as possible.
As for major contributions, when I first was appointed to the Lake County Board, it was shortly after being a state representative for 14 years and the Village President of Buffalo Grove for 8 years. I had a working knowledge of how the legislative process worked in Springfield and offered my assistance regarding any legislation that may affect Lake County. I am currently the co-chair of the Lake County Board Ad-Hoc Legislative Committee where I give input into legislation that is currently pending in Springfield and in Washington. Our committee is responsible for providing input on the County's Annual State and Federal Legislative Agenda.
I am proud to have made significant progress on transportation issues and preserving our open spaces and forest preserves. I am currently working with our forest preserve and department of transportation staff on their project to expand and improve the Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve. The project will develop additional working paths. I am also working with nearby residents to work out issues that affect them because of their proximity to the project.
Question 2: What is the single biggest need in your district?
The single biggest need in my district is an efficient transportation system so that our residents are able to get where they need to go, quickly and safely. Our road and transit systems need improvement. There is a great need for a completion of various transportation projects. In particular, this includes the expansion of Route 53. I have long fought for the Route 53 extension, which would lead to booming economic development in Lake County, jobs for our residents, and traffic congestion relief. Additionally, we need to complete local road construction projects that have been long talked about, such as the reconstruction and widening of Deerfield Road, Buffalo Grove Road, Lake-Cook Road, Weiland Road, and the completion of Old McHenry Road.
I played an integral part in bringing the North Central Commuter Railroad along with a train station to Buffalo Grove and securing a second track, but we need to work with Metra to add weekend services to the line. It is important we have the line during the week but it is just as important for the service to run on the weekends.
Question 3: Should the county government eliminate procurement cards, or p-cards, for county board members? Should county board members even have expense accounts? County board members in some other counties don't, their salaries cover work expenses. Should employees' p-cards be eliminated, too?
Yes, we should eliminate the p-cards for county board members. The Lake County Board is in the process of holding hearings and determining if we should eliminate them altogether or put increased restrictions on them. During my four years as a county board member, I have never applied for or accepted any p-cards.
As for expense accounts, Lake County Board members should have expense accounts if they are making purchases on behalf of their constituents. For example, the expense account allows me to send out newsletters and postcards to my constituents so I can let them know what is going on in the district and what I am doing for them. I think it is important to have the means to communicate with them and be openly transparent. Without expense accounts, county board members would not have the means to send out materials to inform our constituents.
There are many reasons why county employees should have access to p-cards and this will be discussed by the board in the coming months. Employee p-cards have a better purpose since they are out in the field making purchases on behalf of the county. We shouldn't expect employees to make purchases for the county out of their own bank accounts and wait to be reimbursed at a later time. For that reason, I support our employees having access to p-cards, but we must ensure we institute strict procedures and oversight for their use to make certain taxpayer funds are not being wasted.
Question 4: Is the county doing enough to control expenses? What additional, specific steps do you recommend?
Yes, we are working hard to control expenses and respect taxpayer dollars. As a result of our careful fiscal stewardship, Lake County is one of a small number of counties in the country with a AAA bond rating, the highest possible credit rating. As a strong voice for fiscal responsibility, I actively support efforts to make Lake County government more efficient with the public's tax dollars and ensure that the county continues to deliver balanced budgets and innovative services. I will continue these efforts in my next term, working to make sure we are as efficient and effective as possible with our budget. I will continue to seek ways to have shared services and shared purchases both within county government and with other local units of government. One example of shared purchases is salt purchases for our streets during the snow season. I will also continue to insist on best practices in county government which results in more efficient ways of performance. In addition to controlling expenses, we can also bring in more revenue to county government by continuing to attract new businesses to our County as well as help those existing businesses that want to expand. We need to promote Lake County as a leader in research and development.
Question 5: Historically, county board meetings have been free of partisanship and political antics -- but party-line fighting has become more noticeable in recent years. How do you feel about that?
After spending 14 years in Springfield as a state representative, I know what real partisanship and political antics are and how that effects good government. I can say in the four years that I have been on the Lake County Board, I have seen little partisanship or political antics. If people look at the board's voting record, they would see that they are generally unanimous or near unanimous votes and on controversial issues there are yes and no votes by members of both political parties. We don't vote or base our decisions along party lines. We base our decisions on what is best for our Lake County constituents. Around election time, we will occasionally see some partisanship and bickering, which is natural, but overall our board members respect each other, are cordial with one another, and help each other out where we can. I have a great relationship with all members on both sides of the aisle because when we are trying to get work done and decide issues, we are doing what is best for Lake County, not our political party.