Bachelor's Degree, General Engineering with Environmental Quality specialization, University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign
Married, Steve Schofield
Mary Clare, 13
On the Record
Why are you running for McHenry County Board, and what qualifications do you bring to the office?
I bring a fresh perspective, offering a practical, common sense approach cultivated by my engineering education with emphasis on environmental quality, 10 years of professional engineering experience, and 14 years of public service. Since being elected to the Crystal Lake City Council in 2009 I have developed productive intergovernmental relationships and found no barriers when striving for the good of the whole. Examples include working with the County on formal recognition of the Crystal Lake Watershed and potential regulations for coal tar sealants, and serving on the McHenry County Council of Governments Water Policy Task Force. Prior to the City Council, I served 10 years on the planning and zoning commission. My personal belief is that we need to plan for today but prepare for tomorrow. My technical skills and experience will be highly valuable in making critical decisions on key issues such as land use and ground water protection, which will affect our county for years to come. Please visit www.cschofield.com for more information.
The County Board has resisted calls to make its chairmanship popularly elected. Now, a referendum has been placed on the November ballot that seeks to change the county to an executive form of government. What do you think about the referendum and the board’s resistance to allow voters decide whether they want to elect the board chairman at the ballot box?
I support the concept of Board chairmanship being popularly elected through a referendum. It’s unfortunate that the referendum on the November ballot does not address a popular vote for Board Chair but instead proposes to fundamentally change the way our County government is run. McHenry County has been exemplary in function and fiscal responsibility. The majority of the County’s daily operations are non-partisan and the administration is held accountable at all times. Introducing politics into day-to-day operations and evaluating performance only once every four years at the ballot box would be a disservice to the entire community. The County Administrator and his staff are thoroughly interviewed and their qualifications are closely examined during the hiring process. The election process does not allow for this same attention to detail. Voters need to educate themselves and understand that this referendum is not about popularly electing a Board Chair but rather a drastic change in how the County is run. The current form of government is much more effective with County Administration held accountable to 24 elected Board members on a daily basis. In the executive form of government the Executive would only be held accountable to the public once every four years.
Do you support county government using taxpayer money to lobby against state legislation that would have protected property taxpayers from tax increases in years when property values declined? Explain your answer.
The County is part of a similar-interest lobbyist organization that represents several counties in the state of Illinois on a wide variety of issues. As this group operates as one voice for a number of counties, there is a set of criteria established by the members to determine the group’s position on state legislation. The small fee that is paid to this group can be beneficial to represent our county at the state level. I assume this is the process being referenced. Based on this assumption it is not fully accurate to state that taxpayer money was used specifically to lobby against this piece of legislation. The main intent of joining this lobbyist organization is to best represent our county’s needs in the most cost effective manner. The process may not always be perfect but the benefits of maintaining a voice in Springfield outweigh one specific questionable position on legislation.
The County Board is working this year to not collect the inflationary tax levy increase allowed under state law. Will you agree to support a freeze to the county’s levy again next year? Explain.
I was pleased to hear that the County Board and administration have listened to public concerns and reacted accordingly with an anticipated 0 percent inflationary tax levy. This approach acknowledged we are in tough economic times and the County is challenging itself to operate in the most cost effective manner. One thing that I will not jeopardize is the quality of life within our county. The public has a high level of expectations for protection and services along with contractual and state regulated obligations that we need to continue to meet. Yet there are still areas that should be looked into, such as the reduction of non-mandated services and health care insurance options. The possibility does exist for a freeze on the tax levy next year, however with potential cost increases it may be difficult to maintain the expected level of service while achieving a 0 percent inflationary tax increase. As a County Board Member I would be realistic yet continue to challenge staff to operate at this level.
Given the obstacles a local couple have had with turning their vineyard into a winery, how business friendly would you say the County Board and county ordinances are? What changes would you seek if elected?
As technology advances and trends develop, people are finding more creative ways to function and there is the potential for circumstances that have not been addressed within the current ordinances. Regarding businesses we need to be open to unique situations and alternative viewpoints. This does take time and communication to work through issues to find the optimal solution. Partnering with businesses and residents to determine the needs of the community and identifying upcoming trends is a proactive approach. Creating a business friendly environment is critical to a successful community and there should be a realistic approach focusing on collaboration. This does not guarantee that issues will not arise but focusing on communication and the needs of the community will lead to a positive public-private environment.
Outside of jobs and the economy, what is the biggest challenge facing voters in your district and how would you address it?
It is projected that by the year 2030 some areas within McHenry County will have nearly depleted their water supplies. The low level of precipitation over the past winter and summer months continues to exacerbate this problem. Groundwater protection strategies, programs, policies, and education need to be implemented to reduce the potential of this negative impact to our quality of life. Educating residents that this is a long-term issue, not just seasonal, and encouraging residents to utilize water conservation methods is essential. The County needs to be a leader on groundwater protection to deliver a consistent message throughout all municipalities. The County should also encourage residents and municipalities to identify and repair aging infrastructure that is cracked or leaking. This leakage creates an unnecessary demand on an already stressed water supply. With the knowledge we have through technology and studies, the County needs to take an active role in groundwater protection so that the current projections for our future supply will be altered.
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