Environment, government structure among issues for Lake County's District 3

  • Lake County Board District 3 candidates are Ann Maine, left, and Wendy Meister.

    Lake County Board District 3 candidates are Ann Maine, left, and Wendy Meister.

 
 
Updated 10/21/2022 5:31 PM

Environmental matters and the structure of how government operates are among issues for the two candidates running to represent District 3 on the Lake County Board.

Republican incumbent Ann Maine, an assistant professor of biology at Lake Forest College, has served on the board since 2002 and is among its most-tenured members. She is being challenged by Democrat Wendy Meister, a consultant from Riverwoods.

 

District 3 includes all or parts of Green Oaks, Gurnee, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Mettawa, Riverwoods, Vernon Hills and Waukegan.

"I'm always open to new ideas and that's something that's really important. I bring the expertise, the energy, the skills (and) I still love helping residents," Maine said of her reelection bid.

County board members double as forest preserve commissioners. Maine, who was president of the Lake County Forest Preserve District from 2010 to 2018, cited the environment as an overreaching theme with many aspects to address.

Meister said there's a need to "examine the structural components" of Lake County government rather than just focusing on details of individual programs.

"I think that we can be more thoughtful in our transparency as to what the public can easily access," Meister cited as a reason for running.

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The existing structure and oversight of county government hasn't kept pace with growth, as evidenced by a part-time county board overseeing a $665 million budget, she said.

In April 2021, Lake County settled with Meister and another former employee of the county clerk's office for $575,000. The pair brought suit saying they were fired for questioning government spending.

Meister said she wants to change the system from the top down rather than the bottom up.

Maine said the environment is more than open space and that changing conditions will require more improvements to water quality and transportation.

"Flooding is an issue and water quality is an issue throughout the district," she said.

There are 14 stormwater and sewer improvement projects underway or planned throughout the county, including Libertyville Township, Maine said. Enhancing stormwater management plans is needed to protect properties, she added.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"This is only going to become more and more of a problem because we have increased rainfall and the rains that we get are more frequent and they're heavier," she said.

Dealing with synthetic compounds known as PFAS, or "forever chemicals," in water is a long-term health issue that needs to be addressed, she added.

"We need to be looking at ways in which we can ensure people are drinking safe water," according to Maine.

Meister said property taxes were a "much more pressing" issue in the northern part of the district, which in some areas has smaller homes but less commercial base to offset.

"I'm talking about looking at our taxes as a system," she said. "We should be involving people in Springfield to start addressing how we pay for our school. Right now it's all local taxing and it's crushing.

Maine agreed property taxes are a top issue but "that's all encompassing no matter where you go." Combined or shared services and contracts with other units of government can result in savings, she said.

Meister said Lake County is a central hub for making changes at the state and local levels.

"We have a way to be a clearinghouse for services," she added.

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