Kane County Board Chair: GOP newcomer Lance Bell seeks 1st elected office

Republican Lance Bell is running for Kane County Board Chairman in the Nov. 5 election.

Republican Lance Bell of South Elgin, a newcomer to politics, is seeking his first elected office this fall, running for Kane County Board chairman, challenging incumbent Democrat Corinne Pierog.

The office is on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

Bell describes himself as a prophet, servant leader and entrepreneur. He said his foray into seeking elected office is a continuation of his leadership and Christian service in other capacities.

“I have a lifetime of public service,” Bell said. “Government leadership opportunity is another capacity, another way to serve.”

Bell is CEO and founder of ServingIntel, which provides software to senior living communities, hospitals and restaurants.

He is immersed in Christian activities and organizations. He is president of a nonprofit he started, Christian Leadership Ministries Inc.; he is the author of “12 Talent Leadership: For Married Men,” and a co-author with his wife of “The Marriage You Do Not Deserve.” He and his wife also host Christian marriage workshops and provide pre-marriage mentoring. He and his wife are also foster parents.

On his Facebook page, Bell calls himself a “Prophet, teacher, and servant leader, who loves Christ and people.”

Bell said he is not the prophet standing on top of a hill holding a staff like in the Old Testament.

“The modern definition is ‘tells the truth,’” he said. “I’m a truth-teller.”

He said he was an independent until August 2023.

“In my view, the Democrats, generally speaking are evil. Republicans, generally speaking, are incompetent,” Bell said. “And the only reason I am a Republican today is we literally have two choices. We’re a two-party system. And so if I’m going to do this, I’m going to end up having to do this within the construct of the Republican Party.”

Public spending vs. personal finances

Bell’s platform cites fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets and responsible spending, according to his campaign information.

“As a current business owner and possible future county leader, the tax dollars spent wisely is my number one issue,” Bell said. “Taxes, that’s why I’m in this.”

Bell said the county board chairman has influence over other taxing districts – schools, parks, libraries, municipalities, townships.

“It doesn’t have control, it has influence over all of those bodies,” he said. “And (it) can work to help minimize expenses or look for different revenue sources for each of those governing bodies.”

Regarding the county’s budget, Bell said he “would focus on the expense side.”

“Most board meetings are focused on generating more revenues, growing the county government,” he said. “I’m for keeping county government under a lid.”

Owner Lance Bell recently closed AJ's Hangout, a low-carb, gluten-, soy- and sugar-free restaurant in South Elgin, to rebrand as AJ's Java Joint. Bell says it's the first sugar-free coffee shop in America.

In his entrepreneurial life, Bell has had a bankruptcy of more than $613,000 in 2002 for three businesses in Missouri. In Kane County, he was sued in 2011 for not repaying a loan, and he was sued last year and this year for not paying rent at a coffee shop in South Elgin, records show.

“In 2001, I was good at delegating and good at sales,” Bell said of the bankruptcy. “I had a young comptroller ... I did not know (about financial problems) until the IRS came knocking on my door. It was beyond my visibility to solve the problem. I got bad advice from an attorney to go Chapter 7.”

He said it was still his responsibility to know what was going on financially in his companies.

“From learning that lesson, I became a trainer in the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University,” Bell said. “That’s how we took the life lesson and turned it into a positive.”

In 2009, he worked for a Geneva company, selling software. He borrowed against commissions and was sued for more than $15,000 when he didn’t repay the loan, according to court records.

Bell responded in court papers that he could not make the sales goal because the company did not provide promised support. They settled for $5,500, records show.

Bell closed two businesses in February: AJ’s Java Joint, 586 Randall Road, South Elgin, which opened in 2021 and AJ’s Keto Factory, 2075 Prairie St., St. Charles, which opened in 2019.

He settled with the coffeeshop landlord, then worked out an end-of-lease agreement with the other landlord.

Lance Bell has recently converted his former AJ Sliders, which had opened in September 2020 at 2075 Prairie St., Suite 110 in St. Charles, into Keto Factory. Keto Factory specializes in food that is wheat-free, gluten-free, sugar-free and soy-free and offers grab and go meals as well as market products and meal plans.

By last summer, Bell said he realized running three for-profit companies and one nonprofit was just too much – especially since he was getting involved in a political campaign.

“Maybe God wants me to wrap this up,” Bell said. “Four companies ... plus politics. Even for me, that was an insane amount. ... God called me out of AJ’s. I got down to two, ServingIntel, plus Christian Leadership Ministries.”

Bell moved to Kane County from Missouri in 2010.

An entrepreneur at a young age, he said he started a landscaping company at 12 in St. Louis and hired his friends.

By the time he was 16 and had a driver’s license, he sold all the landscaping equipment and started a marketing company.

Eventually, Bell transferred that expertise to food technology and ServingIntel, where technology and artificial intelligence mesh in providing point-of-sale services to restaurants, senior living facilities and to corporate and educational institutions.

A passion for Kane County

Bell said he sees the chairmanship as an opportunity to serve Kane County.

“I looked at the current individual who was in that slot – how it was currently being run,” he said. “And I sat through several meetings, six meetings in September and October of last year. And I came up with a number of strategies that if I were to be elected chairman, I would deploy, and make things better – in my opinion – for the citizens of Kane County. That’s how I got into the election for chairman.”

Holding board meetings at 9:30 in the morning is not convenient for many people, he said.

“I believe these meetings should take place in the afternoon or in the evenings,” Bell said.

Another problem, he said, is meetings go hours too long, and he places the blame for that on Pierog.

“My empathy goes to the 24 board members, truly. ... They’re getting paid for part-time work, sitting at the long meetings over and over again, I can see how people fall asleep,” he said.

Addressing the issue of facilities for the Kane County Health Department, Bell agreed the Aurora building needs to be replaced, but said he does not support building new at a cost of $39 million when the county has a lot of empty office buildings that could be converted to the health department’s specifications.

“We could move the health department to one of the empty office buildings and save millions,” he said.