Donna Kurtz

Demographics

Republican

55

Crystal Lake

Bachelor's Degree, Southern Illinois University

Master's Degree, Business Administration, University of Illinois, Springfield

Director, Business Development, Quanteq, Inc.

Married, Paul Minkus

Stepdaughter Tavi Jane Minkus, 29

On the Record

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

I am running for re-election because I am devoted to serving my community. We need ethical elected officials who are driven only by conscience and not by personal ambitions. I believe that I am such a person. My values are at the core of my decision-making. I strive to be ethical, transparent, and principled. I have the courage to always speak out for the best interest of my constituents. I possess a strong business and financial background from my 28 years of corporate and asset management. I have also learned a great deal in my first term as a County Board member. Those skills and experience, and my temperament, enable me to address the complex challenges we face in governing McHenry County. I believe that responsible representation requires hard work and an understanding of the concerns of the community. I address the needs of my constituents in a practical and informed manner. My record shows that I believe that McHenry County needs less government, not more. Specifically, as a fiscal conservative I have an established record of rejecting expensive public projects, calling for spending reductions, and balancing budgets in representing District 2.

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?

Since being elected in 2010 I have promoted discussion and consideration of a popularly elected County Board Chair position. I truly believe that our community should have the opportunity to determine whether to have the ability to elect and hold accountable the person who presides in this important position. However, I do not support a County Executive position because it concentrates tremendous powers in the hands of a single person—the County Executive. For example, the County Executive will have hire and fire responsibilities for almost 700 employees. Currently a professional management team headed by a County Administrator, who answers to all 24 County Board members, runs and manages the County organization. However, replacing professional management with the political authority of a County Executive has tremendous potential for increased dis-function, patronage, and even corruption—resulting in increased cost of government, while reducing the effectiveness of county government to serve the community.

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.

I do not support lobbying efforts that are not openly discussed and where board members do not have the opportunity to agree on initiatives. Going forward a more proactive communication and agreement of these activities, as well as costs, and overall agenda must be provided to all county board members so that an open forum of discussion and agreement can occur.

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 expect to support a freeze for the county tax levy this year. I have supported the necessary steps that the County Board has taken to restructure the budget process so staff has been able to effectively reduce the County budget by approximately 2% or $5 million dollars for fiscal year 2013. Thus, we are positioned this year to provide our community with some measure of property tax relief. However, this is a decision that must be made with caution because of the potential impact of inflation and other cost increases over time. Going forward the County Board must hold the line on cost increases and capital projects which grow the size and cost of government. I believe it is vital to avoid any additional costs in this uncertain economy. That is why I have not supported any pay increases this year and have opposed a number of capital projects costing millions of dollars. However, without knowing the financial situation of our county for 2014 I can not responsibly state if a freeze to the tax levy is possible.

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 think all members of the County Board would have liked to have seen the winery process go smoother. A major reason for this was because our current ordinances lack the comprehensive provisions needed to accommodate this requirement. This should be avoided in the future through the creation of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The UDO process has taken input from the County Board and stakeholders all over the county to build a document based on best practices, as well as organizational standards. Unlike current ordinances that maybe out dated, lack continuity with the needs of the community, or are inconsistent with other existing ordinances, the UDO will streamline County ordinances to make it easier for businesses to develop and grow, and for the county to be able to readily direct and enforce respective ordinances. The UDO will provide a predictable, rationale, and consistent direction vital for businesses to readily assess the profitability and viability of investing in McHenry County. Over time this will create a far more attractive business climate because the cost of doing business in McHenry County will be easier to understand, reassess, and improve. “Business friendly” positions McHenry County to be more competitive with other communities.

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

McHenry County government must be more responsive and concerned about the communities it represents. Members of the County Board, as well as members of appointed county boards, must respect opinions from the community, consider these concerns, and then to reassess their current positions. For example, over the last two years conflicts such as Alden Road and Fleming Road could have been avoided if the views of residents had been given more consideration at the very beginning. Currently we have issues such as the Contiguous Flow Intersection at Randall / Rt. 62 which LITH and Algonquin elected officials stated they do not want, yet MCDOT continues to pursue. We also have concerns stated by elected officials from Crystal Lake, Algonquin, and Lakewood regarding a temporary moratorium on electronic billboards, yet there some County Board members have rebuffed this request, though it has been made by elected officials representing multiple communities. As County Board members we must improve in valuing the views and requests expressed to us. None of us is perfect in this respect, but we must always be willing to challenge our assumptions and positions in order to ensure that the best decisions are made on behalf of our community.