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. I am 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 fifty percent of all zoning petitions filed were by landowners who were forced to file in response to zoning or permit violations issued by the county. The new zoning ordinance addresses this problem by adding a common sense statute of limitations for violations related to anything built prior to 2005. With the electorate’s help, I hope to be able to continue to use my experience and expertise to serve the citizens of McHenry County.
What is your top priority if you are elected?
During the upcoming year my legislative priorities include finishing McHenry County’s newly written Unified Development Ordinance and ensuring that every change and addition is in the best interest of all citizens of McHenry County. I will also work on making McHenry County government more user-friendly by expediting the building permit process. In addition, I will work to encourage job growth through new transportation corridors and will continue to fight to preserve McHenry County’s AAA bond rating while continuing to fight to keep the County property tax levy flat.
What is your position on shrinking the County Board's size?
I would consider reducing the size of county government but I wouldn’t do it haphazardly. To do something of this nature takes careful planning and if not done thoughtfully it could have a very negative effect. Reducing the number of county board members could shift the County Board’s priorities dramatically. For instance, if we reduced the board to its smallest authorized size it would include twelve members. This effectively cuts the board in half. It would create a scenario where the western one half of the County would have two representatives on the board and the Eastern half of the county would have ten. This change in representation might change the County planning priorities. Do we really want to remove the protection of farmland as one of the goals of the County? Before we reduce the number of board members, we must ensure that citizen representation from the different parts of the county is not diminished.
Do you favor reducing the levy of Valley Hi Nursing Home and spending down its cash reserve? Why or why not?
I do, but the issue we face is how to do it without forcing Valley High to close. The trouble arises from the interaction of the tax cap and the reduction of the surplus. The tax cap only allows Valley High to tax what they received the year before plus the rate of inflation. If the County reduced the levy to zero, reserves would be used to cover funding shortfalls. Once reserves are depleted the tax cap would prevent the return to a realistic tax levy. The County has requested that our state representatives give us some relief by allowing a one time exemption from the cap, but until that happens we have to be careful about how fast we reduce our tax rate.
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.
What does county government do that it should not be in the business of doing?
I would like the County Board to be out of the business of over-regulation. For instance, the building code currently requires building permits for sheds at 64 square feet, yet the state only requires inspections at 140 square feet. A thorough review of our inspection and permit requirements to reduce the unnecessary permitting process would go a long way toward making McHenry County user-friendly without jeopardizing the health or safety of its citizens. The same holds true for agricultural operations. The County Board has spent hours arguing about what farmers can sell at farmers markets. When a Christmas tree farm sells Christmas trees sometimes they also sell ornaments and hot cocoa. This is part of the Holiday experience, yet some members have argued against allowing these ancillary sales. We need to use common sense while stepping out of the way of good people who want to conduct good businesses in this area.
What can the County Board do to make the county more attractive to employers?
New businesses need to know they are welcome in McHenry County and that the County has much to offer them. By identifying specific areas for new business development, we can reach out to specific types of businesses and encourage them to locate in McHenry County. We can also encourage business re-location here by improving our transportation corridors. Finally, we need to streamline the building process by making the issuance of building permits easier and faster for businesses that want to bring new jobs to the County.