Laura McGowen: 2022 candidate for McHenry County Board District 4
Office sought: McHenry County Board District 4
City: Crystal Lake
Occupation: Communications coordinator, Amusement & Music Operators Association
Previous offices held: None
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.
A: I think the county board has done great work in balancing the budget. I will strive to maintain this balance and adapt to changing circumstances in an effort to preserve and add services that the county provides to its residents.
I will address deficits caused by inflation and unfunded mandates by pursuing grant writing opportunities and working with state legislators to direct funds into our school districts to offset our property tax burden.
Q: Is there a specific service or amenity that is lacking in the county? If so, how do you propose to provide and fund it?
A: There are areas of McHenry County that are underserved when it comes to high speed internet. At a time when more people than ever work from home, the county board has not advanced the discussion of high speed internet.
The county board chairman is responsible for creating the agenda and bringing the issue before the entire board. 5G coverage is necessary to power our smart devices, provide uninterrupted functionality of digital workplaces, shop, and socialize from home. Internet Freedom for McHenry County is ready to start the conversation on funding the project.
Also lacking in our county are safe, connected routes for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Already in use in many states, the Complete Streets model outlines how to create a network of routes that gives residents wider transportation options for both recreation and commuting to work. The cost can be managed through the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program.
Q: Does there need to be more bipartisanship and cooperation on the county board? If yes, what would you do to help make that happen?
A: Whether or not more bipartisanship is required remains to be seen as the entire membership of the county board is up for election.
As a communications professional, I collaborate and foster cooperative relationships as part of my job description. I will bring this skill set with me in my role as a county board member.
I welcome different opinions as they contribute to a greater dialogue that can guide us in our common goal of serving our residents.
Q: The COVID pandemic put a spotlight on the need for mental health services. What role should the county play in this?
A: The county must ensure their contracted services are adequate and evaluate all challenges that have occurred as a result of the pandemic.
These responsibilities are mandated by the Community Mental Health Act, which established the Mental Health Board to disburse levied funds to organizations that provide mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse treatment and prevention services. Additionally, the county's role is to educate and connect the public with the services that are available.
Q: What is the single most important issue facing your district and how should the county address it?
A: High taxes are the single most important issue. Shared services among various municipalities can increase effectiveness and efficiency in their operation. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's ON TO 2050 is a comprehensive plan for the region that challenges local municipalities to develop service-saving partnerships.
In response, the McHenry County Coordinated Investment Study is an ambitious effort to analyze the cost-benefit of intergovernmental coordination. Joint purchasing of vehicles, software licensing and office supplies are examples of shared expenses that save taxpayer dollars while improving the quality of public services. CMAP and the McHenry County Council of Governments will work together to identify win-win partnerships.