Bachelors Degree, , University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Juris Doctor, , American University
Married, Christine M Gottemoller
On The Record
Why are you running for county board?
I am running for re-election to the McHenry County Board because I believe our government needs to be reminded that it was created to serve its citizens, not the other way around. Although I am passionate about many County issues, since my election in 2012 I have been working diligently with fifteen other County leaders to revise McHenry County’s Zoning and Development laws. As a local zoning attorney who, before being elected to the county board, regularly appeared in front of the county on zoning matters, I believe that our zoning laws are too cumbersome and complicated to be applied fairly. For example, in 2011, almost one half of filed zoning petitions were by landowners who were forced to file in response to zoning or permit violations issued by the county. There has to be a better way. The new zoning ordinance is being written so that every rule serves a purpose, and is a reasonable way to protect the health, safety and welfare of all McHenry County’s citizens. With the electorate’s help I hope to be able to continue to use my experience to serve the citizens of McHenry County.
What is your top legislative priority if you are elected?
During the upcoming year my legislative priorities include the completion of the Unified Development Ordinance, the preservation of the Aaa bond rating and the issuance of a frozen or flat property tax levy.
Where do you stand on the upcoming March referendum to make the County Board chairmanship popularly elected by the voters?
Although I voted to put the question on the ballot, I will be voting against the creation of a new county wide position. The proposition to elect all positions sounds politically correct, yet we have numerous examples where it is a bad idea. From school board president to Speaker of the US House of Representatives the elected bodies choose their own leadership. If those bodies do not like the leader they change leaders. When we allow leaders to be chosen by the body they are expected to lead we get more reliable and accountable leaders. To the argument that the citizens could easily change the County leader I would say only once 135 years ago did the current system allow someone to hold the seat more than eight years. Currently, when a change needs to be made in McHenry County it takes 13 of 24 board members to make the change. A county wide race requires years and thousands of dollars to defeat the incumbent chairperson. No one in McHenry County needs a chairperson who is disconnected from the board and almost impossible to remove.
Do you believe that the County Board – before 2013 – kept an adequate eye on the finances and spending of the McHenry County Mental Health Board? Why or why not?
I was not on the board prior to 2013. In my opinion both the McHenry County Board and the Mental Health Board were unprepared for a declining economy and the state funding changes. Although the County Board appoints the members to and oversees the budget of the Mental Health Board, the County Board was content to allow the Mental Health to manage its own affairs. Then the funding changed. No longer would grants be handed out and the agencies free to spend them as they saw fit. Now agencies would have to demonstrate they provided services for the grant money they received. At the same time the economy went into a recession. No one was prepared for the impact of these changes. Two long time service providers failed. The Mental Health Board was powerless to save them. Since 2013 the County Board has taken a more active role and the majority of the Mental Health board has been changed.
Do you believe the county should continue to run Valley Hi Nursing Home, or would you like to see it sold to a private entity?
I believe the County should continue to provide services to its seniors. Valley Hi Nursing home is one of the best services the County provides. Several years ago the citizens of McHenry County passed a referendum to fund the construction and operation of a new Valley Hi facility. It has taken several years but the current administration at the facility has actually generated a positive cash flow for the facility. So now that the citizens have funded all of the risk, there are those who would hand it over to private hands to reap the benefits. This is comparable to Chicago selling its parking meters. Parking meters were intended to pay for streets but Chicago decided to sell all of the future revenue and now has no revenue for streets. The nursing home is not intended to make a private owner a profit. It is intended to care for those senior citizens who need our help. If we sell off this asset the day will come when we are unable to care for those seniors who need it most.
What issues would you like to see addressed in the upcoming Unified Development Ordinance?
As Chairman of the Planning and Development Committee I have had the front row seat for revising the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The purpose of the UDO is to combine and simplify many of the county’s development ordinances from zoning, to subdivision and even signage. Most of these ordinances were created at different times by different people who may or may not have had the ability to see how these ordinances interacted. As a result, when someone comes to the county for a permit today they are often overwhelmed by the complexity of trying to comply with an encyclopedia of ordinances. Some of our work is as simple as putting all of the definitions in one place. The more important decisions are addressing the trends which have divided our community such as: Agritourism, A-2 zoning, Conditional Uses, Commercial Storage, Home Occupations, and Conservation Design. We have worked to strike a balance on all of these issues. The draft should be ready for public review in April. Once we have addressed any additional public concerns the UDO will be brought before the County Board for final approval.
Do you believe county government should continue to keep its tax levy frozen? Why or why not? And if not, what expenses would you cut to ease the burden on taxpayers?
The tax levy needs to remain frozen. We cannot let the government take unlimited amounts of tax money. Property taxes are based on a percentage of the value of property. When property goes down in value even if the government keeps the levy the same, the homeowner still pays a higher percentage of their home value in tax in order to generate the same amount of tax money. If we do not keep the levy frozen when property values are lower, it is only a matter of time before individuals are taxed out of their homes.