Whether the roads and cemeteries that St. Charles Township oversees are being properly maintained is one of the issues discussed during a recent candidate forum for those running for St. Charles Township Board.
The forum, co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County and the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce, was live streamed March 16 from the Arcada Theatre in downtown St. Charles. The forum also featured races for St. Charles School Board, St. Charles City Council and the St. Charles Library Board.
The video can be found at stcharleschamber.com/meetthecandidates.
Six candidates are running for four seats. Incumbent trustees Jerry Swanson, Mary Lynn Swanson (no relation), Jeffrey Jerdee and Todd Wallace are running for reelection on the same slate. Challengers James Flanigan and William Bachman are also running together.
Jerdee did not participate in the forum. Candidates were asked how they would address the necessary maintenance and repairs of the roads and cemeteries while staying within the current budget.
“I don’t know if I necessarily agree that they aren’t being kept up,” Wallace said in response. “We do a lot of work on roads and cemeteries and we are very careful with our highway commissioner, Steve Frohling, about making determinations as to what is important, what is a priority. I think that our departments do a good job of keeping within budget and keeping the roads and cemeteries looking good.”
“I disagree with Mr. Wallace on whether the roads are being maintained as well they could be or have been, because that’s one of the reasons I’m running,” he said. “The 15 years I’ve lived in St. Charles, I’ve seen a slow degradation there. As a matter of fact, several of the local citizens have commented to me about what a hard time they’ve had in getting road work done in their areas.”
Flanigan said although the street he lives on is well maintained, “when I delivered some campaign literature to someone in an east side neighborhood, I was just shocked as to the state of the roads.”
“We’ve got to balance this out a little bit,” he said. “We’ve got to address all roads in an equal manner.”
In a recent newsletter to St. Charles Township residents, Frohling said that with the costs of blacktop at about $80 per ton, the township is able to only able to resurface about three to five miles of road a year.
“When determining what roads to resurface each year, I always look at how long it’s been since it was resurfaced last and what condition it is in,” he said. “Therefore, roads in the worse condition and the longest time since resurfaced will come first. Most roads being resurfaced are anywhere from 15 to 20 years since they were last resurfaced. We try to patch as quickly as we can other roads to help with their longevity.”
Jerry Swanson said the township’s roads “are probably better than any township in the county.”
“We’ve had wonderful highway commissioners over the years,” Swanson said. “We have over 90 miles of roads. Most people don’t know the difference between township and county roads.”
Mary Lynn Swanson said Frohling receives phone calls from residents “when there is a concern.”
“And he’s very available,” Swanson said. “He does go out and check the spots and sees what needs to be done and what he is able to do within his budget. I welcome the residents to come and tell us this. And again, we’re here for you.”
Candidates were also asked what goals they would like to achieve. Bachman said he would like to improve transparency.
“The amount of transparency in the office needs to be greatly improved and that would be my main focus,” he said. “I would do whatever it took to ensure that the information about the township government, what’s going on, the pending issues, what it does, would reach the people in a communication method they all can get to. With that, we can make better solutions, have a better understanding and overall a better environment for the township government.”
Flanigan said he would work to provide “more education and more community outreach.”
“I want the township to be very active in the community,” he said. “I tell you, it’s the best kept secret in St. Charles. People in the city of St. Charles don’t know they can vote for township positions. People in unincorporated St. Charles I’ve had ask who they can vote for to represent them. I tell them they can vote for me. I’ll represent them.”
Jerry Swanson said that community outreach and creating more awareness of township services is extremely important.
“And that’s probably the main goal we should all be focused on,” he said. “We have to remain fiscally responsible and spend what we have in our budget responsibly. I don’t know quite honestly what else we can do other than work on the website, which we started to do in the last week or two and we’ll be more involved in working with that and getting the word out about township government.”
Mary Lynn Swanson said that enhancing the township’s website is a start to improving community outreach.
“Posting our agendas for our meetings on there may be helpful to you,” she said. “With it you may be wanting to come [to the meeting]. The phone works both ways. I get it. I’m here for you and I look forward to representing all of you as a township trustee.”
Wallace said he would like to improve the rules regarding general assistance.
“Townships throughout Illinois are tied up by the General Assembly’s legislation regarding general assistance procedures, [and] what it can be used for. And I would really love to see St. Charles Township take a lead role in going to Springfield and telling our legislators that we need help here to be able to deliver assistance to the people of St. Charles Township.”