Bradley Belanger, DeKalb County Board 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

Election 2024
DeKalb County Board, District 1 candidate Bradley Belanger

DeKalb County Board District 1 candidate Bradley Belanger answered Shaw Local’s election questionnaire for the DeKalb County Board primary election.

Voting ends for the primary election on the evening of June 28.

Full Name: Bradley Belanger

What office are you seeking? DeKalb County Board Candidate

What offices, if any, have you previously held? N/A

City: Esmond

Occupation: Firefighter/Paramedic

Education: Associates in Applied Science

Working on Completing a Bachelors in Management.

The DeKalb County Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a public facility owned by DeKalb County government, is under financial distress, according to county officials. Budget constraints brought to light in 2021 made it difficult for the center to maintain its financial independence. The county board last year dissolved the center’s operating board, and hired a consultant to help determine the future of the facility: Whether to sell it (current county leadership says that is not the preference), or how to maintain its financial autonomy. If elected, what would you want to see become of the county nursing home?

When I am elected, I want to see the nursing home continue to remain a rehab and skilled nursing facility.

How would you address financial constraints at the nursing home as a county board member?

In order to answer this question, we would first need to know which financial constraint you are speaking of.

What are the three biggest challenges facing the DeKalb County Board?

1. Community engagement

2. Transparency

3. Tax relief to our taxpayers

Please provide specific ideas for how you would address these issues if elected, or solutions you would offer?

1. Expand public comment during meetings and establish an open forum to gather additional input from the public at large.

2. Push to ensure all public records subject to FOIA are available online.

3. Push for decreased spending and consolidation of services when possible and put a multi year plan together to reduce property tax burdens on our taxpayers.

What makes you specifically qualified to run for DeKalb County Board? What would you bring to the table, and how would it benefit the board? Please provide specific examples.

The election code spells out the qualifications for the county board, which I meet those requirements, however, those requirements are just minimums. I can bring 20 plus years of life experience as a Firefighter, paramedic, resident, taxpayer, husband and father. All those combined provide a deep understanding as to what the citizens of our county are dealing with on numerous fronts on a daily basis.

In 2021, the DeKalb County Board took up votes for several solar energy farms of significant size. The projects, which were approved amid some lengthy debate, spawned a significant amount of community feedback, some negative, some positive, some related to county board regulations for future farms. Where do you stand on the topic of solar energy, and what role do you believe the county board should play in that?

Regardless of one’s position on energy solutions and options, zoning was designed, as spelled out in the law, to be about public health, safety, and protection of people’s property values. When the government takes steps that directly impact people’s property values negatively then we have a problem. I think the current board failed to gather the needed research as to how property values would be impacted. When such values are diminished, the county revenue stream, property taxes, is decreased which ends up created other problems within the county.

The DeKalb County Board’s budget was passed for Fiscal Year 2022 at $96 million. Would you advocate to change it or make cuts? If so, where? Why or why not?

The power to amend an adopted budget is very limited by law and if done outside of those restrictions it is actually a crime according to the county code on this issue. While I understand numerous county boards routinely amend their budget, anyone reviewing the law and applying it to many of those budget amendments can quickly see such action violated the law and will not be a party to such an act.

Inflation across the nation has greatly impacted the price of gasoline, food and supplies. Recent rent hikes also are affecting local communities, forcing relocation for those reliant on subsidized housing in DeKalb County, according to a recent Daily Chronicle report and the DeKalb County Housing Authority, which is a branch of county government. What can the DeKalb County Board do to address relief of everyday expenses, and reduce the tax burden on local residents?

The Housing authority does not fall under the County Board. The board appoints the board members but has no power over the operating board or the operations.

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, DeKalb County’s population dropped by about 4,000 people over the past decade, mostly concentrated in the DeKalb area. Population sizes can directly impact revenue streams for municipal budgets such as local sales tax and motor fuel use, and economic development. How would you rank economic development as a priority within your campaign, and what, if elected, would you do to ensure DeKalb County progresses into the next decade?

Identification of the reasons for the population decline is the most important element in determining what needs to be fixed. Ranking priorities brings other problems to this complex matter, which is why I say we must first identify the real problem behind all of the matters you raise. Many of which the county board has no control over.

Assess the DeKalb County Health Department’s actions to combat COVID-19? What changes, if any, need to be made related to the pandemic?

The health department has followed the CDC and IDPH recommendations and practices.

How would you encourage economic and employment growth within DeKalb County?

An open public information meeting should be kicked off to hear from the people to better understand their wants and desires. Once we know what the people want, rather than the government, a plan could be put in place to address those matters.

Do you think there is a local crime problem? If so, what needs to be done about it?

As a county board member this area of interest would fall under the sheriff’s office and law and justice committee. I spoke with the sheriff’s office, and they continue to monitor areas of concern and work with the other local law enforcement agencies and the law and justice committee to meet the needs of the community.

What local road and bridge projects should be a priority to get done in the county?

Prioritization is determined by the County Engineer through inspection mandates from the state. As a county board member, I would follow the guidance of the county engineer upon reviewing the established priority and documents supporting such priority.

Do you support decreasing local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?

Yes, property taxes must be reduced as that is a key deterrent to future economic development. Ensuring every parcel is properly assessed and on the tax rolls is the first step in that process. While we may not have such a problem in DeKalb, it’s clear other counties have thousands of parcels that have not been on the tax rolls for years, which is wrong

Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?

I support stronger ethics laws, which include actual accountability to those who violate our ethics laws. I support the prosecution of those who violate them, which in Illinois is lacking.

What are your thoughts on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?

Illinois FOIA is the people’s right to know! I think it should be strengthened rather than weakened through continued legislative action. The people’s information should be available and more accessible.

Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.

I will push to ensure all public records subject to FOIA are made available online. Additionally, I believe the public has a right to know what took place in closed session meetings and will push for the release of those audio recordings in accordance with the law.

What would you push for as a member of county government to boost local businesses?

Reduction of any red tape controlled by the County.

Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign nondisclosure agreements with private businesses?

Government should not be in the role of signing NDA’s. In the event a private business wanted something like that, I would seek a written legal opinion on the matter.

Would you push for or against government officials and employees being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?

I always push for transparency over secrecy.