Ersel Schuster

Demographics

Republican

74

Woodstock

Owner / operator of a printing business - 26 years

Married

On the Record

Why are you running for McHenry County Board, and what qualifications do you bring to the office?

If I am not willing to step forward, taking the time and energy necessary to hold an elected position, I have no right to complain. Further, I am not obligated to anyone one person or group of people. I believe that is an enormous piece of information for the voting public to know. I have demonstrated that I am not afraid to step up to the plate, being that “thorn-in-the-side” when it is necessary… and/or, when it may not be the politically correct thing to do. Aside from that, my background in business and accounting are assets that serve me well in the 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?

Misguided information propels some to think that electing the county board chairman at large will solve some imaginary problem. Ultimately this sets up unnecessary power struggles and is extremely costly to the taxpayers. I strongly disagree with the proposed referendum calling for an “executive” form of county government. It is politically motivated and an example of how dangerous out of control, “power-hungry-public-figures” can be. Currently we have 24 members; from all parts of the county. The chairman has only those powers allowed by the 24 members. If a chairman exceeds those directives, according to our board rules, he/she can be replaced at the end of any “2” year term. That cannot happen if a chairman is elected at large. He/she is there for four years and most likely for many subsequent 4 year terms as the statutes do not require term limits under this scenario. I firmly believe in term limits for the chair and vice-chair of the county. Under our current form of county government all we need, according to our State’s Attorney, is legislation that allows us to impose such limits via our board rules. I will work to accomplish that goal.

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. As I recall, this issue slipped in before most of us realized what was happening. It is issues such as this that prompted a call to re-instate the “Legislative & Public Affairs Committee,” the development of the county’s E-library and engaging the lobbyist. These actions were initiated to provide better access to information and resources in assisting county board members and ultimately to have more open access for the public in understanding legislation and issue we must deal with. Specifically to the lobbyist question, frankly I believe the $14,000 we pay this person to watch what is happening in Springfield is a good investment. With the thousands of bills floating around the state houses, it is impossible for us to keep up on what is happening and what affects the business of running the county.

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. Not only do I support that freeze, I support a reduction in the levy. As taxpayers we cannot afford the government we currently have. We need to reduce county government. The only way to do that is to reduce the funds available that allow members to feel no need to be cautious with those dollars.

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 questions mix apples and oranges. In the case you cite, Ordinances are not the problem. The problem exists when public officials micro-manage, break and/or “re-write” their own rules on the fly simply to accommodate special interests. Is McHenry County business friendly? Yes. Thus, speaking to “the county as it relates to business,” many of us recognize that agriculture is a huge business that serves a dual purpose. These businesses provide the food we eat and the area best suited to ensure a clean water resource for every resident in the county. The county is responsible for what occurs within that demographic area. Generally, manufacturing, industry and retail consumer businesses are under municipal/village zoning where the infrastructure can accommodate their needs. The winery you reference is a manufacturing business trying to “shoe-horn” itself into an ag area under the guise that it is agriculture. To suggest that a business will “truck-in” 95% of their product from elsewhere does not make you an agricultural business. The county board is currently working on an update to the Zoning Ordinance (UDO). This update should clarify and strengthen the guidelines to better address such issues.

Outside of jobs and the economy, what is the biggest challenge facing voters in your district and how would you address it?

Overly burdensome taxes remain the greatest challenge facing voters in all districts. Personally, I will continue working to reduce the size of county government. We now have a pretty clear picture of mandated county services and those we provide for one reason or another. In this coming year, county board members must make difficult decisions by eliminating those services that are unnecessary and/or can more efficiently & effectively be provided by the business community.