David J. Brown: Candidate profile, Kane County Board District 10
Republican David Brown and Democrat Mary Kay Crantz are newcomers vying for a seat on the Kane County Board in District 10, which covers parts of Batavia and North Aurora.
The Daily Herald recently asked the candidates to answer a series of questions. Here are their replies.
Q. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
A. Batavia is the fifth largest city in Kane County, and I feel that Batavia and North Aurora residents need a representative that has the time, experience, and leadership to represent them. My years on the Batavia City Council were very productive and rewarding. Now that I am retired, I will have the time it will take to effectively represent a larger geographical area. Some issues that concern me are the county budget, mental health issues and public safety. These have all been greatly impacted by the recent pandemic.
Q. 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?
A. Some of my main contributions to the city of Batavia during my tenure include implementation of a successful streetscape project, which included the redesign of River Street and Houston Street, upgrading and improving the waste water treatment plant, and creating a balanced budget while providing the lowest tax rate in the area. I would be bringing 22 years of experience as an alderman in Batavia, where we always delivered a balanced budget while maintaining one of the lowest tax rates in the entire area. As an alderman, I was involved in numerous zoning, annexation, and land planning decisions. As a small-business owner, I needed to be goal-oriented, budget-minded, proactive, and resourceful. I feel that all these skills will positively affect my decision making on the board. My priority would be to work cooperatively with other board members so we can make the best decisions for North Aurora, Batavia, and the rest of Kane County.
Q. Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming in the future and how the county should deal with them. In particular in the suburbs, Cook County President Preckwinkle has set a goal of eliminating unincorporated areas from county oversight. Do you agree with this approach? If so, how should the county go about it?
A. As an elected official, it is my duty to be mindful of the taxpayer's money. It is difficult to balance the quality of life the residents expect with a declining revenue source. Due to the pandemic, revenues are down not only in the county, but in the state and entire country. A lot of our revenue comes from our share of taxes distributed through the state and federal government. The county board will have to be very diligent in working with our state legislators to maintain our current allocation of the funds. The board could also work with the municipalities to see if there was a way to promote and spur additional economic development.
Q. How do you rate the county government on transparency and the public's access to records? If you consider it adequate, please explain why. If you think improvements are needed, please describe them and why they are important.
A. With the county's website the public has access to all the public meeting agendas, minutes, audio recordings, budgets, and all public records. Kane County has led the way in total financial transparency with every cent collected and spent disclosed on the internet. Additionally, all appointments to commissions and advisory groups are open to public information and participation.
Q. What, if anything, should be done to improve automation and customer service in county offices? What steps should be taken to make that happen?
A. I intend to continue support for I.T. Director Roger Fahnestock and his department's work to automate the court system, protection of county data from cybersecurity hacking, voting process security, etc. In addition, if elected, I would be willing to take any suggestions from the residents and county staff and work cooperatively to make any improvement.
Q. The county board will undergo redistricting following the 2020 Census. What is the most fair process? Do you support the current number of seats on the board?
A. I do support the current number of seats on the board. I feel if you were to decrease the size of the board it would increase the geographic area of each board member. The current structure of the board (24 seats) allows each board member to better represent their district. Perhaps there could be a Citizens Advisory Committee to work with and assist in the potential redistricting.
Q. Do you support the current salary and benefits structure for the county board?
A. In general, yes. County board members have the option of selecting health insurance coverage. I will not be participating in that coverage.
Q. What actions must the county take to continue to address COVID-19?
A. The county board should always put the health and safety of the residents of Kane County and its employees as a priority. I believe all the county facilities should be analyzed and modified to accommodate the CDC recommendations of social distancing and maintain all safety protocol. All county employees shall be provided all PPE required. These employees and any citizen that enters a county building must know they are in a safe environment. The board needs to work closely with the Health Department to make sure they are provided the resources they need. It is imperative that the county be proactive in working with the State Health Department and CDC to stay current with changing guidelines and statistics. The county needs to be transparent with the public on any data collected.
Q. The new board will take over during a time of unprecedented budget challenges. What is your plan to balance the budget? What will your spending priorities be?
A. I would work cooperatively with fellow board members, other elected officials, and department heads to analyze and evaluate what programs or projects need to take priority. Based on this information decisions would have to be made as to how much money would be allocated to which programs and projects. During this process, board discussions should include any opportunities for consolidation by analyzing efficiencies and cost savings. Public safety would obviously be at the top of the spending priority list. This would encompass the health department, sheriff's department, the judicial department, maintenance of our roads and other infrastructure.