Election

Clifford Surges, Kane County Board Primary Election Questionnaire

Kane County Board candidate Clifford Surges

Full Name: Clifford Surges

What office are you seeking? County Board, Kane

What offices, if any, have you previously held? County Board Kane, Village Trustee, Gilberts

City: Gilberts

Occupation: Entrepeneur, CEO Home Health Care, Insurance Risk Management Professional

Education: BA Eastern Illinois University

Campaign Website: cliffsurges.com

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

The County has done a Herculean task of keeping the County’s portion of property taxes level for the past 8 years. Pensions are fully funded, and debt is significantly reduced. There are other units of government that may want to follow this example.

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

Here at the North end, we have made solid efforts to address the safety concerns at the Algonquin Road / Randall Road interchange and the Route 72 / Randall Road intersection, but the I90 / Randall Road exchange is in dire need of attention.

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

Shootings in and around the North End seem to be growing in frequency. The coordination of local and County resources continues along with the major crimes task force. However, incidents such as the Pratt shootings in Aurora seem all too difficult to foresee. The response from local and County law enforcement professionals to that incident was swift and appropriate.

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

Continued attention to our Judicial, State Attorney and Sheriff’s offices is simply essential. We have so many well intended programs running, but they require consistency and support from the elected officials to see them through.

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 personally do not have enough information to comment on this specifically. However, I am so happy to learn that the larger police departments such as Aurora, Elgin, Carpentersville and the County have added Mental Health Support to their front line. So many individuals wind up in a system that was never designed to accommodate these situations. No one wins in these cases and resources are wasted. This change was so overdue and just very well done!

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

As Chairman of the Human Services Committee, we are reviewing this issue right now. Some changes have already been initiated, some with the help of the State and assistance of the State’s Attorney. The Ethics Ordinance is quite large. We are addressing this one piece at a time trying to get it right given the information and laws available at this snapshot in time.

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

As a member of the committee that handled the original approximately $97,000,000 of Corona Relief Funding, I continuously pushed for grant packages for our small business community including creating special designations for destinations such as Dundee’s iconic Santa’s Village.

We are all in this together and we need to support each other.

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?

We have some of the absolute best individuals in their respective areas, true professionals that are nationally recognized.

I do not have the impression that our turnover is any more or less than the average. We are on par with other government agencies. The committee I chair generates these reports monthly.

Our business studies are ongoing to ensure that we retain the highest caliber candidates available.

How can the county seek to retain employees?

By offering continued support, training, fair wages and a safe place to work. Diversity continues to be a goal.

Our internship offerings continue to be critical to keep our processes relevant and more departments are jumping on board.

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?

Neither

We received almost $200,000,000 of COVID funding. Let’s digest that and get our priorities straight before anyone asks for more money.

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

Supporting those businesses that helped earn it.

Our area up North has seen a few municipalities do away with liquor bonds to streamline their processes for licensing and sales. This was simple and cost effective.

Parking and safety are both priorities as well. Did I mention SAFETY!

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

No.

The last State gas tax made sure Illinois remained the highest taxed State in the Country.

Really, you would ask us to tax more?!

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

I would vote no.

However, if it somehow passed, KDOT has been short changed year after year. They are the first to be asked to “give a little.” But their projects can span 20 years and are enormous. Keeping them funded is essential.

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

We want to keep a balance. So, the question is a bit misleading.

If an area needs the balance of warehousing, it is the hottest thing going right now with high demand and low vacancy.

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

Planning and perseverance.

Everyone wants the smiley faced Amazon truck to deliver their sundries in 24 hours and sometimes less. However, to keep those warehouses full, those semi-trucks need to role.

Planning is essential. So is staying loyal to your residential neighbors that make it a community!

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?

I understand negotiating requires a certain professional ambiguity. However, you need to disclose a warehousing industry with thousands of trucks running 24/7.

Not sure it matters if it is Amazon, Fed Ex or Walmart. The “fact” is the nature of the business and the requirement to disclose the use.

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

I think it is abused in some instances and appropriate in others.

Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.

Our previous treasurer had a goal to place most all of our financials online. I applauded that effort and learned so much from the exercise.

I am not a big fan of “Executive Sessions” and make every reasonable effort to avoid them unless the SA office requires it.

Additionally, the flow of information between committees is overwhelming. Maintaining a well-trained and coordinated staff is the most effective way to keep information transparent and timely.

Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign non- disclosure agreements with private businesses?

I have never been approached with this. Inasmuch I don’t have a basis to comment. I would enjoy learning more.

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

Similar to the last question.

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

When I read this, I was hoping you meant the destinations of the Dundee’s, Algonquin and Gilberts!!!

Making the health department simple and efficient is a start. Safety, Safety, Safety!

Then let’s support each other with Fox River Valley based marketing and sponsorship. We live in an absolutely special area. Open space, Forest Preserves ... did I mention a river? A river where the bald eagles have returned and kayaking, hiking and live entertainment are in abundance.

It’s not just nightlife, It’s breakfast, lunch and dinner with entertainment venues and orchestras!

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

It served its purpose as did so many in other communities as well. Remember the front end of this pandemic was scary and full of uncertainty. The private sector has now caught up.

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 mental health community was unified and consistent in their plea for help. They made a strong case identifying the back log of available services during an unprecedented time in our history. Whether they came to a Township meeting or County meeting, they made their case.

I am hopeful and interested to see how many additional lives were helped with the millions committed to their cause. That data will prove up if this was the correct action or not.

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

Yes, as long as there is well documented plan to serve the public.

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

Within committee we have addressed the issue of continuing education vs. training and hope we have made the distinction clear.