Full Name: Fidencio Hooper-Campos
What office are you seeking? Whiteside County Board
What offices, if any, have you previously held? Appointed to Whiteside County Board in 2015 till 2016. Elected to Whiteside County Board in 2018. I was also on a couple of boards for a few years. Governing Council of the Whiteside Co. Health Dept. and NCI Works.
Occupation: Retired USW Union Steelworker
Education: Computer Science certificate from Sauk Valley College.
Campaign Website: None yet!
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 has economic development systems in place that could coordinate with contractors, builders, state, and federal agencies to address this problem of housing availability. The county could also offer unused county owned properties for possible housing.
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?
More pay for EMTs and firefighters would also help in this very stressful occupation. There is a Make Me A Firefighter Initiative that I remember from a couple of years ago that could be a source for volunteers.
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 lean towards augmenting state funding with county funds. There are FEMA grants that can be applied for in order to help at the county level
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?
Whiteside has already started working toward that goal by allocating federal funds to expand broadband access in underserved areas of the county.
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 has been working toward that goal by making some county owned properties available to develop green energies. Preserving land for crops is important and the decision to switch from crop farming to energy farming should be left to the property owner.
Should counties do more to expand access to county government?
Access to county government is one of the reasons Whiteside voted to keep 27 members on the county board instead of cutting that number in half. With 27 members, the chances that you know someone on the board is much greater. I have been called by constituents about county issues and they called me because I was the only one they knew on the board.
Should video of committees and board meetings be continued/expanded?
Absolutely yes we should be making Zoom meetings a normal part of delivering information and services to our county because living with Covid is our new reality.
Should the county website be updated?
Whiteside has a great website and it’s easy to navigate.
Should board members be required to have email connections?
In Whiteside we already have that available to every member. It isn’t a requirement. We also have members who don’t use computers or have internet access.
What technology upgrades and resource allocation is required to make it happen?
What challenges is the region facing in terms of attracting business and tourism?
Biggest challenge is still this ongoing pandemic. Cases have dropped in our area but there is no guarantee that we won’t be experiencing another wave.
What tools and services do northern Illinois communities have that can be better applied to this effort?
Whiteside has a great health department which keeps track of infection rates and works to keep the public informed. They are proactive with making vaccines available to everyone who needs one.
What are your thoughts on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?
FOIA requests are as American as apple pie. It’s important and should remain that way!
Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.
NDA’s (non-disclosure agreements) should not be allowed.
What would you push for as a member of county government to boost local businesses?
Boosting the “Shop Local” initiatives along with local events (fairs, parades, carnivals, wine tasting, eagle watching, etc.) would help attract people to Whiteside.
Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign non- disclosure agreements with private businesses?
For accountability and transparency sake, I would say absolutely not.
Would you push for or against government officials and employees being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?
NDA’s should be outlawed if they haven’t been already.
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?
Cutting programs or services to the county would be one of the hardest decision for any county board to make.
Do you think there is a local crime problem? If so, what needs to be done about it?
I don’t believe crime has gotten any worse than it’s been in the past here in Whiteside. Nationally there has been a spike in crime which some experts attribute to the stress caused by the Covid lockdowns. One solution might be to start having mental health professionals start working closely with law enforcement to help difuse a possible violent situation.
What local road and bridge projects should be a priority to get done in the county?
Whiteside does a decent job on maintaining county roads and bridges. The real issue with many of us in the county are city streets. I would be in support for having the county help the cities repair their worst roads.
Do you support decreasing local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?
I would love to cut these taxes, but with crumbling infrastructure that many of us see on a daily basis, decreasing property taxes would only make this issue worse.
Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?
I would support strengthening any ethics laws that would help restore trust in government. Ethics laws should cover every person working in government including the US Supreme Court which currently isn’t bound by any code of ethics.
Is the Whiteside County airport underutilized, especially as it has a runway that can handle commercial traffic?
Yes it is underutilized. Getting commercial traffic to use the facility is another problem.
Are there other investments to be made at the airport?
The facility has had upgrades over the last few years and I’m not sure what their next project is.
Is it a matter of promotion?
The Airport board does a good job promoting but competing with Rockford Airport or the Quad Cities Airport is an uphill climb.
How can the airport be an economic boon?
If we could attract an airline to run weekly flights, yes there would be an economic boost for the county.
Whiteside County set aside $5 million in ARPA funds for unspecified projects. How should that money be spent and why?
Funds could be used for affordable housing, expanded broadband, essential workers, small businesses and industries impacted by the pandemic.