Democratic candidates for Lake County Board district 16 and 18 discuss spending cuts, climate solutions
Two Lake County Board districts being contested in the Democratic primary are without incumbents in the race.
District 16 is a compact area centered on the four Round Lake communities in west central Lake County. The 18th District is a sprawling rectangle spanning all or parts of Buffalo Grove, Hawthorn Woods, Kildeer, Lake Zurich, Lincolnshire and Long Grove.
In the 16th, Round Lake Beach residents Yesenia Jaycee Ochoa and Esiah Campos are political newcomers seeking to become the first Hispanic board member. Terry Wilke, who has represented the district since 2008, is running for the state House 62nd District.
All districts have been redrawn per state law following the decennial census and the number decreased from 21 to 19.
The 18th is one of two redrawn districts that does not have an incumbent living there, and two candidates with political experience want to expand their involvement. Akrom Hossain of Long Grove is a Vernon Area Public Library trustee, and Sara Frederick Knizhnik of Vernon Hills is a Vernon Township trustee.
Lake County Board members also serve as Lake County Forest Preserve District commissioners. Following is an overview of the candidates in their races based on questionnaires, interviews and provided material.
Campos serves in the Navy Reserve and is a pension analyst for Local 705 International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Ochoa is a real estate agent and managing broker at ReMax American Dream.
Both want to provide better representation for the Latino community.
"I am no stranger to the struggle of the working class," said Campos, who cited a "real lack of leadership" in the district.
He said his military experience has prepared him to build consensus and he'll be able to bridge a generational gap.
"For too long, the Latino community has been disenfranchised with no seat at the table," Campos said. "I am committed to making sure we have a voice."
Ochoa touted her experience working with mayors and other levels of government as one of the founders of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of the Lakes.
"We lack many services in this community," said Ochoa adding, she would be "a passionate ... loud voice," as an advocate for District 16.
She underscored a need for more investment in workforce and senior housing.
Campos said the district needs relief from flooding and that he would fight to ensure the Round Lake area gets an adequate share of $122 million in federal funding the county will be investing in stormwater projects.
"We need to make sure it's equitable and everybody receives their fair share," he said.
Ochoa said she would be a responsible, responsive and transparent leader and work to expand economic development and jobs.
"Our biggest need here is transparency," she said of improving communication with district residents.
Campos said he has learned from serving in the Navy Reserve that "we all must work together to advance our community."
Health care executive Akrom Hossain, a former U.S. Army consultant, emigrated here from India 30 years ago.
High property taxes and the effects of the pandemic on families and business need immediate attention, he said. He advocates spending cuts and eliminating layers of government bureaucracy.
Knizhnik was a university professor teaching English as a Second Language for 17 years. In 2017, she became a full-time professional advocate for gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform.
Knizhnik said she spearheaded the establishment of an office of violence prevention in the Lake County state's attorney's office to allow law enforcement, the judicial system and community-based organizations to address the root causes of gun violence.
She said she is committed to not raising taxes and would prioritize finding inefficiencies while maintaining needed services.
Hossain said he is glad Lake County has frozen tax levies the past few years but more is needed to provide relief in times of high inflation.
He calls for an immediate 2% reduction in the county budget to yield $10 million to $12 million toward reduce property taxes.
"I am proposing an independent commission to investigate and find services that can be consolidated, or, even better, eliminate some of the overlapping layers of government, such as township governments," he said.
Knizhnik said she would seek a forensic audit of all Lake County spending and identify inefficiencies. Improving public health and safety and finding local solutions to the climate crises are her other priorities.
Hossain said he would work to address the mental health and opioid crises and promote green energy initiatives.