High School, Streator High School
Bachelor's Degree, BA, University of Illinois
Juris Doctor, American University, 1982
Attorney, Madsen, Sugden & Gottemoller
Joe, Jacob and Alex
On the Record
Why are you running for McHenry County Board, and what qualifications do you bring to the office?
I am a strong proponent for controlling taxes, encouraging job growth and protecting our environmental resources. My background and my community involvement demonstrate my commitment to these goals. I have lived and worked in McHenry County’s Third District for 21 years. In my professional life, I have established solid and productive working relationships with representatives of most county municipalities and with the representatives and county staff. As an attorney with a background in zoning, I have extensive knowledge of the county’s existing ordinances, how they affect service delivery systems, and how ordinances can be changed to improve the quality of life for McHenry County’s citizens. As a long-time public servant with service on many boards and commissions, I have always valued service to my community. With the voters support, I will promote a smaller and more fiscally sound government by controlling taxes and promoting job growth in McHenry County. You can learn more about my goals and qualifications at www.joegottemoller.com.
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 am opposed to the county executive form of government. It would give one person powers that far exceed what is in place today and prevent all citizens from having equal representation on the board. Currently, the McHenry County Board Chairman is chosen internally by the 24 board members from throughout the county. Just as residents can contact their county board representatives to suggest they vote for or against any issue before them, voters can contact their county board representatives to share their opinions regarding who should be the chairman. Today, the chairman is accountable to the board and the board is accountable to the voters who elect them. The Mchenry County Board’s Chairman has very limited powers. The chairman’s vote carries no more weight than any of the other 23 board members. The majority makes decisions. If the referendum is approved the executive will decide who to hire, how to plan the budget, and whether to veto board actions. In addition, the executive will control the zoning board and other commission’s recommendations because the executive makes those appointments, too. Because I am opposed to this power grab, I am opposed to this referendum.
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.
No, the County should not be in the position of hiring lobbyists to influence tax rate policy. With redistricting, McHenry County will soon have four Representatives and three Senators who will represent portions of McHenry County in Springfield. These Springfield leaders should be hearing from County Board members directly rather than from hired lobbyists on tax policy. However, since Cook County and Chicago always take a disproportionate share of the state’s tax revenue, there are times when McHenry County does need lobbyists working on its behalf. I favor the county’s use of lobbyists to go to Springfield and Washington, DC to fight for the return of our state and federal tax dollars to McHenry County. The County Board has the ability to direct the lobbyists and they should not have sent a lobbyist to Springfield to influence tax rate policy at the expense of the county’s citizen’s pocketbook.
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.
Yes. The tax bill in a declining economy should not be increased. County Board members have to make some tough choices, but first and foremost they must be sensitive to how financially difficult it is for the residents who live here right now.
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?
The County is not very business friendly. The county’s planning authority is used to stifle the creation of jobs and growth in our local economy. The winery was held up because the zoning ordinance was not designed for the modern day use of a winery. The County Board reviewed the ordinance language for months while the business owner was forced to wait it out. Another example of the county’s anti business activity can be found in the zoning ordinance under “home occupations”. The County has made most new home occupations illegal. First, a start-up/home business is prohibited from having more than one outside employee. Second, the home business must take place entirely within the dwelling part of the home. No outbuildings or even a part of the residence with a separate entrance can be used in the business. We have to change this anti-business policy. I will use my background in law and zoning to spearhead revisions to the County Zoning Ordinances that hinder new businesses.
Outside of jobs and the economy, what is the biggest challenge facing voters in your district and how would you address it?
The County Board’s 2011 decision to increase taxes at the same time property values decreased guaranteed that each homeowner paid a larger percentage of their home value to the government on this year’s tax bill. Only intense public pressure during an election year caused the Board to reconsider the decision to tax the maximum allowable amount for 2013. In 2007, most homeowners paid two percent of the value of their home for property taxes. Since home values have dropped significantly and taxes increased, each homeowner is now paying between 3 - 4% of their property value in taxes each year. To put this into perspective, the average homeowner with a thirty- year mortgage will ultimately pay more money to their local government in real estate taxes than for the principle on their own mortgage loan.
Gottemoller's Current Race
Kathleen Bergan Schmidt
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