August 07, 2022
Election


Election

Cody Dornes, Whiteside County Board 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

Full Name: Cody Dornes

What office are you seeking? Whiteside County Board District 2

City: Rock Falls

Occupation: Correctional Counselor

Education: Associates in Criminal Justice

One of the biggest local issues curtailing economic development and growth is available affordable housing. The 2022 Census showed Lee and Whiteside both with more than 90% occupancy of existing residences. What is the role of the county to ensure there is available housing as it works to attract new businesses to the region?

The county’s first priority should be finding ways to encourage more businesses to find a home in Whiteside County. More jobs will bring in more residents and more residents will create the need for more housing. The fact that Whiteside County is perfectly located close to Chicago, the Quad Cities, Rockford, and Peoria should be used to our advantage to attract more businesses. We also have plenty of underutilized infrastructure like I-88, rail, and all of the state highways that crisscross our communities.

Many villages and municipalities in Lee and Whiteside have their own ambulance services, which are often strapped for cash to maintain operations. In addition, there are critical shortages of qualified EMTs and firefighters. What role should county government play in resolving these associated problems?

EMTs and Firefighters aren’t the only services that are facing staffing shortages. One of the issues I see competition. A lot of county residents are seeking employment in the counties next door because they’re offering more through wages and benefits. Our goal should be finding competitive ways of keeping with the surrounding counties.

Is it time to encourage privatizing ambulance services, consolidate services and provide them at county level, or augment state funding with county funds to existing units?

I am completely against privatizing any of our social services. We need to find a balance between providing services at a county level but also augment state funding with existing county funds that can help fund our services as well as be able to expand to the smaller rural areas of the county.

Northern Illinois counties are woefully behind when it comes to broadband and modern communications. What role does the county government have in equipping the region to meet the communication needs of the future?

The first thing we need to do us recognize that digital infrastructure is as important as our current definition of infrastructure. Internet access and high-speed internet are as critical as our roads when we’re talking about the future of Whiteside County. During Covid we realized how important the internet has become to our daily lives. More people are working from home and businesses rely on highspeed internet and good cellular reception.

Northern Illinois is seen as having a great deal of potential in developing/expanding green energy in the form of solar and wind. How can the county government play a role in expanding this? At the same time, growers and property owners often express the need to preserve land for crops. Is there a balance to be struck? What are possible solutions?

Whiteside county has made great strides in expanding green energy but we shouldn’t stop. We need to expand our wind and solar farms. Land owners should have the say on whether they want to install wind or solar farms on their land. Not only do we need expand our green energies but we should also look at ways of encouraging people to adopt green energy. We should also find ways of supporting green energy by installing charging stations for EV’s.

Should counties do more to expand access to county government?

There is definitely more the county can do to expand access. By increasing our digital capabilities we can offer more through the internet by means of digital applications, payment processes, email, and social media platforms.

Should video of committees and board meetings be continued/expanded?

If this is something the residents want should continue and/or expand.

Should the county website be updated?

Not only should the website be updated but continually updated in real time. We should take it a step further and provide information through other platforms like social media.

Should board members be required to have email connections?

Absolutely. As an elected official the public should have access to the board members by phone, email, or mailing address.

What technology upgrades and resource allocation is required to make it happen?

I’m not the most tech savvy person to say the specific needs but the end game is easy. In order to operate in today’s age and keep up with today’s demand we need to find ways to keep the county update through email servers, digital infrastructure, and staffing to make it happen. Not only does focusing on technology upgrades help keep the county current but it can lure business in by showing them this county is ready to meet today’s needs.

What challenges is the region facing in terms of attracting business and tourism?

The challenge is convincing businesses or future businesses that Whiteside County can meet their needs. We need to look at ways of showcasing what we have to offer by the way of roads, rail, technology, and location.

What tools and services do northern Illinois communities have that can be better applied to this effort?

The county can offer incentives for small business and big business to relocate ir startup. We also need broadcast our strengths. After the loss of North Western Steel and Wire and other big businesses in the area it created a vacuum of job loss with nothing replacing those jobs. We started seeing businesses return to our county but a lot of workers found jobs outside the county. The goal is find ways to continue that growth by using resources we have and looking for more resources.

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

The Freedom of Information act is extremely important because it provides more transparency.

Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.

I believe our current levels of transparency are sufficient but if there are more ways to expand transparency we should definitely explore those options.

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

I would push to explore more incentives for our local businesses by looking at our zoning practices, tax incentives, and rewarding businesses for employing workers.

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

NDA’s should not be allowed between officials and private businesses. Government should be transparent, and that includes those that are elected or employed. As an elected official you’re representing the people who elected you, not your interests.

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

I am against this practice.

It appears inflation — in a way that hasn’t been experienced in a long time — is going to be an issue that could affect all local governments for the foreseeable future. What is the role of the county board as rising prices put a pinch on existing revenues?

The role of the county board should be to find ways to navigate and adapt to the current economic environment. Despite rising prices people are still going to the store, buying, and consuming because we have to. The difference is that people are making more fiscally smart decisions. Wages are one of the issues holding consumers back. If we can encourage businesses to offer better wages, those increased wages will allow people to pump that money back into the economy.

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

Without looking at the numbers I can’t say for sure if Whiteside county has a crime problem. What I can say is that after being a Correctional officer for 10 years is that there a couple proven ways to deter crime. Police presence, higher paying jobs, amd neighborhood restoration projects can help deter crime.

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

Indentifying older roads and bridges and creating a priority list of what which are in the worst shape should be done first. After that we should look at other areas that help with traffic congestion, commerce, and projects that will help with future expansion of the county.

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

Funding has to come from somewhere. Property taxes in Illinois are high but that money is being used. Decreasing property taxes decreases the funding those taxes are go to so if that is something that is being explored we need to find ways to offset the shortfall. An advisory committee with subject matter experts needs to be created in order to figure out how we could lower property taxes while still properly funding th services provided by property taxes.

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

Revolving door policies, prohibition of NDA’s by elected officials, and oversight are some of the measures I support.

Is the Whiteside County airport underutilized, especially as it has a runway that can handle commercial traffic?

Our airport is underutilized and we need to take whatever measures we can to expand services. The airport is located on the corner of I88 and Route 40 by offering commercial traffic we could utilize our location and offer possible businesses and consumers more services.

Are there other investments to be made at the airport?

The possible expansion of our airport would need to be taken step by step. That first step should be commercial traffic and once that’s complete we need to expand further

Is it a matter of promotion?

Definitely. If we have a service other areas cant provide we should be promoting it.

How can the airport be an economic boon?

As stated previously commercial traffic at the airport would put us on the map for further expansion of business and services.

Whiteside County set aside $5 million in ARPA funds for unspecified projects. How should that money be spent and why?

That money should be used for what it was intended for. Infrastructure, small business grants, low interest small business loans, and continuing county services that are financially affected by Covid and inflation.