Joseph 'Joe' Gottemoller: 2022 candidate for McHenry County Board District 4
City: Crystal Lake
Occupation: Attorney in private practice
Previous offices held: Conservation district and county board
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. Holding the line on taxes. McHenry County has not raised property taxes a single time since I took a seat on the board. I plan to keep it that way. Second I am proud of the fact that we are stream lining and making things such as building permits easier to obtain. Citizens should not spend more on the permit than they spend on construction.
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. First holding the line on property taxes. We have done that and are now in the position that the County is debt free. There are no debt payments to be made by the County. Second Transportation improvements. The county has completed all of its projects needed to increase capacity to meet the current population in the county. This includes the largest bottleneck in Northern Illinois Randall and 62. In addition we completed the interchange at Route 23 and Interstate 90. Third the drafting of the Uniform development ordinance. The intent was to shift the burden from fighting for every building permit to allowing landowners to care for their own property. For years the county had required landowners to petition for variations which were always approved. This was costly and a waste of resources. If something is always approved it should not have to go through the zoning process. Today thanks to these changes it is. Fourth the reduction of the size of County Board.
Q. 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.
A. The County has to live within a budget. It has been balanced every year since 2012 without raising property taxes. It was done by reducing the size of government. Simply put there is nearly 200 fewer employees at the county today then there was in 2010. We have also done it by sharing service costs. The Sheriffs department recently spearheaded a shared social worker program. Today if you dial 911 and need a mental health expert a social worker is available to assist. The cost of those workers is being shared by many of the municipalities who rely on the 911 service for emergency contact with in their municipality. A great service without duplicating efforts while sharing the costs. The County should always follow that model.
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. Currently every meeting is broadcast on the internet live. After a meeting it is archived and available for future viewing. All ordinances, resolutions and motions are available for viewing. The only meetings that are not open are for executive session for personnel, employment and on going litigation. Even those minutes are available for viewing at the resolution of the case. There are no secret meetings at the County. There should not be any in the future. My general philosophy is that we represent the voters. They are entitled to know what the decision we made and why we made them. Hopefully the ability to see and hear everything we do makes it easier for them to understand the reasoning behind the decisions.
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. Especially with the pandemic there have been great strides in automation. Today you can file your cases in court on line. You can apply for most building permits on line. The County Recorder allows documents to be filed on line. Every department has some presence on line. Computers and automation in general has made the County much more efficient and easier. It is a tend that was sped up by the pandemic but should continue. Citizens should be able to get answers without coming in the building.