Brian Jones, Kane County Board 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

Kane County Board, District 11 candidate Brian Jones

Kane County Board District 11 candidate Brian Jones answered Shaw Local’s election questionnaire for the Kane County Board primary election.

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

Full Name: Brian Jones

What office are you seeking? Kane County Board - District 11

What offices, if any, have you previously held? Recently, I served as a Commissioner of the Geneva Police and Fire Board, an appointed position, for 4.5 years.

City: I was born and raised and currently live in Geneva with my wife and two children.

Occupation: Attorney

Education: Geneva High School - 1996

Eastern Illinois University - BA - 2000

Major - Speech Communications

Minor - Business Administration

The John Marshall Law School - JD - 2006

Campaign Website: facebook.com/JonesKC11

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

First, I think it’s important to note that the Kane County portion of the property tax bill represents around 4% of the total amount (6% if you include the forest preserve). I don’t know that decreasing this levy is realistic. In all events, it is critical to strike a balance between reasonable levels of taxation versus the services the constituents of District 11 have the right to expect.

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

The Fabyan Road bridge between Routes 31 and 25 should be a priority.

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

I believe the local police and sheriff are doing a good job keeping local crime in check. I continue to support each in their roles as first responders on the front line and thank them for their service.

How will you work to keep crime low in Kane County?

As previously stated, I believe the local police and sheriff are doing a good job keeping local crime in check. I think that maintaining high quality local jobs and focusing on mental health should remain a priority. If we can work toward getting (and keeping) our citizens gainfully employed and mentally healthy, these guideposts will help to keep a lid on crime.

Do you support Kane County’s pre-arrest diversion program?

Editor’s note: This question has been updated from a previous version to correct that the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office created the program and the Kane County Sheriff’s office participates in it.

I support Sheriff Hain’s pre-arrest diversion program, which gives law enforcement a way to address certain issues in a more constructive manner than placing a person under arrest. The program allows our police force to work with non-violent offenders who, for example, may be homeless, have mental issues or substance abuse problems and helps to find appropriate treatment for them to help reduce the recidivism rate. A low level offender who agrees to enter the program will be paired with a case manager and will sign a contract agreeing to follow the course of action outlined. They could face criminal consequences for not living up to their end of the deal, so the program is not without “teeth.”

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

I support any reasonable ethics rules that would better assure proper conduct on the part of all elected officials.

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

In large measure, I would like to stay out of the way of our local governments. I wouldn’t want to see unnecessary restrictions or regulations imposed that would hinder local commercial activity. I think that the more quality and sustained tourism we can bring to our area, the better. I would strongly support anything the county can do to help maintain and grow our local businesses.

Why do you think the county has had some positions open for a while and a number of employees have left the county in recent times. Why do you think county employees are leaving?

One major issue here is that Kane County has a lower pay scale than any surrounding county. We need to be competitive in the hiring market by raising and maintaining salary levels all in the context of maintaining our taxes as low as possible. Unfortunately, the value of some of our county employees’ benefits exceed the amount of their salaries and one easy solution is to leave for a better deal elsewhere.

How can the county seek to retain employees?

Please see previous answer.

Do you support adding either a 0.25% or 0.50% retail tax to non-essential purchases (excluding groceries and gas)? Why or why not?

It is vital to address the fundamental needs of the county in the context of a balanced budget. In all events, it is critical to strike a balance between reasonable levels of taxation versus the services the constituents of District 11 have the right to expect. At some point, our COVID relief funds will be fully allocated and we must be open to explore reasonable avenues for raising revenue.

If there were an increase in retail tax revenue, what would you use the additional funds for?

If enacted, I would be open to discussions regarding any reasonable allocation of the additional funds that would directly and positively support our county’s bottom line and support or local businesses.

Do you support a county gas tax hike? Why or why not?

No. Gas is expensive enough currently and many of our residents are feeling squeezed at the pump already. As things currently stand, we have a significant amount of Rescue Funds which should address the matter for the next couple of years. This may have to be reevaluated in a few years.

If there were an increase in the county gas tax revenue, how would you propose using the new money?

If there were to be an increase in the county gas tax revenue, I believe it should be used toward transportation and infrastructure.

Do you support more warehouse and industrial development in Kane County? Why/why not?

I support the measured and thoughtful growth of commercial activity in Kane County with a premium placed on maintaining the current quality of life of our residents. By growing our county’s economy with quality businesses (including warehouse and industrial development) we are adding local jobs to our community as well as growing our tax revenue.

How can municipalities best deal with the increase in semi-truck traffic?

I think this is best answered by a traffic engineering study.

Should county & municipal officials be required to disclose to the public the identity of a business, such as Amazon, that seeks to locate in the county?

Currently, all parties applying for public entitlements are required to disclose the name of the property owner and the name of the applicant. I believe there should be a default toward transparency.

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

FOIA.gov states it nicely that, “The basic function of the Freedom of Information Act is to ensure informed citizens, vital to the functioning of a democratic society.” I fully support the philosophy behind the Act because it assures the public’s access to all but the most personal or sensitive information. It is critical to remember that our elected officials are placed in office to serve the public, not the other way around.

Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.

I support all reasonable measures to maintain and to improve upon government transparency. I think the county has done a good job maintaining online access to public records and recorded meetings. Please also reference my previous answers regarding Ethics and FOIA.

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

It depends. As previously stated, I believe strongly in government transparency and our public officials serving the public. On its face, having a government employee or official sign a non-disclosure agreement (“NDA”) sounds like a poor idea. The public’s business should be conducted in compliance with law, including any required disclosures.

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

Please see my previous answer.

How can the county best support municipalities that are seeking to promote restaurants, nightlife, tourism (St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia)?

In addition to staying out of the way of our local governments, I believe our county could support the municipalities (and our local businesses) by working to bring more visitors to town. There may be additional opportunities to host local festivals, music attractions or youth/high school/amateur sporting activities.

In connection with promoting our local hospitality businesses, I’d like to help facilitate the sale and redevelopment of the old Sheriff’s Office and Jail on Fabyan Parkway. This 40-acre parcel should be made productive and placed on the tax rolls, which will help support a balanced budget. Ideas for this space may include a multisport complex, a hotel (or both). The thoughtful development of this space would provide a lot of synergies and new visitors to our local restaurants, hotels and area tourism.

How long should the county support the Kane Vax Center in Batavia?

This issue should be reviewed and kept on a short leash to ensure that, if it is to remain open, it’s being efficiently utilized.

The County Board used more of the revenue it received from the American Rescue Plan to fund mental health services than it gave to social safety net services such as homeless shelters and food pantries. How can the county make funding for nonprofits impacted by the pandemic more equitable?

The priority should be to first be sure the county has recouped its direct budgetary losses from the pandemic. Secondly, we need to be sure that internal projects authorized by the Rescue Plan are evaluated and vetted. After these first two priorities are addressed, we can see how much money is left for allocation among social safety net services.

Do you support giving a larger chunk of the $103 million in funding the county received to social services?

Please see my prior answer.

Do you agree with the county paying the college tuition of a public employee? Please explain.

I support the procedures put in place by the recent amendments to the county’s employment policy. This policy creates the framework to evaluate whether or not to pay for an employee’s tuition and sets parameters on the same.