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2017 Election Questionnaire: Thomas Allen, candidate for McHenry County College Board

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 5:26 p.m. CDT
Thomas Allen, candidate for McHenry County College Board.

Name: Thomas Allen

Age: 61

Town: Lakewood

Office sought: Trustee McHenry County College 
1) What skills, qualities or experience do you possess that separate you from your opponents?

I have had experience with MCC as a student, an adjunct fire service instructor for over two decades, and currently as a member of the Board of Directors for the Friends of McHenry County College Foundation Board. I believe all of these perspectives will allow me to serve the college with a more holistic view than that of my opponents

2) What can McHenry County College do and what should it do to ease the property tax burden on homeowners?

I don’t know that MCC can ease the property tax burden on homeowners, but MCC is trying to work within their tax levy and just reduced staff to stay within that framework. One of the best things the college can do is show the residents of the county what they’re getting for the tax dollars the college collects. No one likes to pay taxes but we all enjoy the services those taxes provide. I encourage residents to take advantage of classes or functions at MCC to better understand the tremendous value the college represents for our county and for their tax dollars.

3) What's your position on space needs at the college? Do you agree with the $16.8 million science building plan? 
I feel the labs that the college currently has are out of date so when students using those labs go to a larger school or into a job in the industry they’re playing catch-up. I do agree with the science building expansion plan, I feel this addition will give our students a better chance of success when they leave MCC. 

4) What will be the biggest challenge that McHenry County College will face over the next four years and how will you meet it?

I feel the biggest challenge MCC will have over the next four years will be to increase student enrollment. Parents of high school students need to know that not every student should go to a four-year college, going to MCC doesn’t mean a student failed in high school, and that going to MCC can lead to many great careers. Many high schools have a special night for eighth-grade students and their parents, and I would start educating the parents and students there about the benefits MCC can provide them at a very reasonable cost.

5) Do you agree with the board's recent decisions on layoffs? Why or why not? 

I agree MCC had to do what was fiscally responsible and unfortunately in this case, it meant layoffs.  These decisions are never easy, but with student enrollment down and State funding so far behind, tough decisions had to be made in order to stay within budget.  Although I greatly sympathize with those affected, I applaud the college for taking a close look at where expenses could be reduced rather than turning to taxpayers to fill the financial void.

6) What do you consider to be McHenry County College's primary role in the community?

I feel the primary role of MCC in our community is to help prepare adults young and old for their next journey. Whether that journey is to finish their education at a four year institution or take a beekeeping course as I did and become a beekeeper, you can do that at MCC. The college has a wide variety of credit and noncredit courses available to help better the lives of every county resident and I encourage everyone to take advantage of all that the college has to offer.  

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