Gary Daugherty: 2022 candidate for Kane County Board District 9
Occupation: Manager of social media and special projects, Parkwood International
Previous offices held: Illinois General Assembly
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?
A. I have been involved in politics for over 30 years as a citizen activist, commentator and teacher. I was honored to be selected to fill a short-term vacancy in the Illinois General Assembly where I witnessed the challenges facing Illinois Government. I was on the floor of the Illinois house when the so-called criminal justice "reform" legislation was railroaded through the legislature in the closing minutes of the session. This bill imposes staggering new mandates on local law enforcement. It has been apparent in the recent budget presentations to the board that the cost of compliance will be enormous and unprecedented. The Democrat Sheriff the state's attorney and the Circuit Clerk have all emphasized that the full cost of implementation is unknown. I believe that how we deal with this issue must be the top priority for all board members.
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. District 9 is unique in its size and scope with so many municipalities and unincorporated areas. District 9 is the fastest growing area of the entire county and that threatens to overwhelm existing infrastructure. The county board member has a responsibility to constituents and local governments to a much greater extent than representatives from more urbanized areas of the county. Kane County's 2040 Land Use Plan emphasizes county/municipal cooperation and will require the board member to engage with local government officials and residents to address the unprecedented activity in the district. See also answer to question 1.
Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming and how the county should deal with them.
Q. What initially appeared to be a substantial short fall in the 2021 budget was ultimately balanced by an unexpected windfall in revenue. However, this is no long-term solution.
A. Significantly, although requests for additional spending were not approved, there were not cuts to the 2022 budget although projections indicate a potential shortfall of 13-15 million dollars. Almost all of the county's union contracts expired in November of last year and with inflation threatening at more than 7%, the current budget assumption of 2% raises seems to be an impossible expectation. Judicial and public safety officials have estimated as much as 26 million dollars will be needed to satisfy the mandates discussed in question 1. The board chair's proposal for a new sales tax, in the absence of meaningful budget cuts is simply unacceptable.
Q. How do you rate the county government on transparency and the public's access to records? If it's adequate, explain why. If you think improvements are needed, delineate them.
A. The prior auditor set up an excellent system to maintain transparency in the records regarding spending and the current auditor has maintained that system. The County has received numerous awards for its transparency and responses to citizen requests. There is always room for improvement The website needs to display the county financial information in a way that does not require a degree in accounting to understand.
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. In recent years the county has done an excellent job improving access for basic constituent services. We need to take more steps to ensure that citizens do not need to transport to a central location just for basic services. The Zoom hearings implemented by the court system are a good example of what can be achieved. There are many citizen interactions that could be accomplished online instead of standing in line. At the same time, we must be mindful of making sure these advances do not burden senior citizens and technologically challenged individuals.