Transportation, gas tax among the issues for Lake County District 10 hopefuls
Improving transportation and the need for a gas tax are among the issues for the two candidates running to represent District 10 on the Lake County Board.
Incumbent Democrat Jessica Vealitzek, who is seeking a second term, says she wants to build on a variety of accomplishments that include overhauling the county's ethics rules, enacting a clean air ordinance and increasing transparency by recording all committee meetings.
Republican challenger Benjamin Tucker Olson of Mundelein is a senior consultant with a corporate legal executive search firm and former executive vice president/law for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. He is running to provide "new, fresh, and common-sense leadership."
Vealitzek, of Hawthorn Woods, says there is more to do and wants to continue advocating for child victims of abuse, right-sizing government and combating climate change.
"I believe deeply in government as a force for good," she said. "It's something that can help improve people's lives, make them safer, solve problems, provide infrastructure and I believe in participating in that government."
She said the county board has "accomplished quite a few firsts" since the Democrats became the majority in 2018 and hasn't been afraid of making tough decisions.
Olson said he would bring "a business perspective and common sense quality," to the county board, having run a small business built listening to clients.
"I have a passion for policy and problem solving," he said. Keeping Lake County a desirable and affordable place to raise a family and start a business is essential, he added.
Creating and growing small businesses should be encouraged by simplifying the startup process. That includes language and other barriers to fast-growing Hispanic entrepreneurship, he added.
The candidates differ on a 4-cent-per-gallon gas tax that became effective July 1, 2021. The tax generates about $10 million a year for transportation projects, including the massive Old McHenry Crossings project centered on Old McHenry Road and the Canadian National railroad crossing.
"I was not a first choice for me or anyone I spoke with, but it was necessary to start tackling some of these infrastructure problems," Vealitzek said.
Olson said the gas tax was unnecessary, not targeted to specific projects and should be repealed.
"I understand the need to fund transportation, but you also have to prioritize and live within the means of our constituents, and our constituents have said the cost of living is really high," Olson said.
Vealitzek said there are a number of neighborhood flooding issues to address in the Mundelein and Lake Zurich areas, plus traffic issues in southwest Lake County.
"We still have a rural pattern of roads, two-lane roads, without any sort of sidewalk or bike path," she said. McHenry Crossings would be huge for the district, she added.
Olson said stormwater in the district has "largely been managed well."
"I'm not hearing as much about stormwater management," he said. "Grade separation from railroads, I'm hearing a lot about."
District 10 covers parts of Hawthorn Woods, Indian Creek, Lake Zurich, Long Grove, Mundelein and Vernon Hills.