High School, Crystal Lake Community High School
Bachelor's Degree, Bachelor of Arts, University of Illinois
Juris Doctor, Catholic University of America
Attorney, Walkup & Associates, Crystal Lake
See recent video below of Michael Walkup talking about the issues.
On the Record
Why are you running for McHenry County Board, and what qualifications do you bring to the office?
I think McHenry County needs reform. As the Jack Franks referendum to change our form of county government illustrates, the public has become fed up with the current leadership to the point where drastic measures are now on the table. This approach, however, throws out the baby with the bathwater and will leave us with a nightmare prospect of having a potential tyrant with virtually unchecked power, and will marginalize the County Board. My qualifications for the job are that, in addition to being an attorney, I have considerable background with county issues, having served on two county commissions, Planning and Historic Preservation, and am currently an elected official with the Crystal Lake Park District Board. I have taken the lead on opposing the Franks referendum and have spoken to the full County Board with my suggestions on how they might best meet the challenge. So far they have not taken me up on any of them, one of which was that the current Board Chair announce that he will not be seeking re-election to that position.
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 was the one who spoke to the County Board about the idea of placing their own referendum on the ballot to compete with the Franks referendum, prompting them to call a special meeting where the idea was rejected. As I said to this paper during the Primary, I believe that the County Board Chair should be popularly elected, but with no more powers than currently and have those powers continue to be subject to County Board modification. The much more powerful position that would be authorized by the Franks referendum could not be modified by the Board as its sweeping powers are set by state statute, leaving no way to check a dictatorial and/or corrupt holder of that office. In the meantime, I have suggested that Board make a number of changes in the way it does things to demonstrate that they have gotten the message and are serious about reforming themselves. More on this will be available on my website: www.WalkupElection.com.
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 cap legislation has had the unintended consequence of allowing the rate to escalate compared with property values in a declining housing market. The Board should not be lobbying against that effort nor should they be participating in similar lobbying efforts aimed at weakening the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Acts.
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. I think it is unconscionable to increase the levy while we are still in a recession, and campaigned during the Primary for just such an effort to freeze further increases.
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?
I have been working for several years on trying to amend our antiquated zoning ordincances to allow more leeway for agriculatural oriented businesses in the county. Right now the county does not distinguish between a small roadside vegetable stand that wants to sell something not stricty grown on the same piece of property as the stand, and someone who wants to build AgriDisneyland in McHenry County. The county is currently considering a new Unified Development Ordinance that will hopefully adress this issue amoung others, and I will be closely monitoring it as it works its way through the approval process.
Outside of jobs and the economy, what is the biggest challenge facing voters in your district and how would you address it?
I really think that the reform of the County Board and how the Chair is elected has to be the priority right now along with defeating the Franks ’County Czar’ referendum. After that, we need to focus on the new zoning ordinance changes, as well as the 2040 Transportation Plan that is now going through the public input process. In addition we face a crises currently in terms of mental health services in the county that must be addressed.
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Kathleen Bergan Schmidt
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