Full Name: Gabriella Shanahan
What office are you seeking? Kendall County board district 2
What offices, if any, have you previously held? Current member of the Kendall County Board of Health, serving on the finance committee
Current member of the City of Joliet Comprehensive Land Plan commission
Previous member of the 708 Mental Health board
Occupation: Executive Assistant
Education: Bachelors of Arts, double major in United States history and political science
Masters in business administration, concentration in finance
Campaign Website: www.gabriellashanahan.com
Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a county board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?
I am committed to not increasing the property tax levy on existing houses. Additionally, to take the tax burden off of homeowners the county board must broaden the tax base and encourage more businesses to locate in the county.
Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.
This is a year by year review for each area of the budget. With my masters degree in finance and with my experience on the finance committee for the board of health, I am eager to review yearly and get to work to make sure tax dollars are spent appropriately every year.
Does the county sheriff’s office require additional funding and/or staff to combat crime in the unincorporated Boulder Hill subdivision or elsewhere in the county? If yes, where would those funds come from and how should they be used?
I believe a lot of crime is seasonal and we see upticks in the summer. During these times, I would support additional shifts of our deputies to combat crime.
Bonds that the Public Safety sales tax is currently utilizing will soon be retiring. This will allow funds to be freed up and we can utilize those funds to continue supporting our law enforcement and public safety efforts in Kendall County.
As a county board member, would you support increased funding and the hiring of additional staff for the Kendall County Health Department?
As a current board of health member that sees the value of our health department, I would always explore options to hire additional staff for the health department, if necessary. For example, we are seeing a mental health pandemic and are having a hard time hiring qualified people for these positions. I believe that proper overall health includes proper mental health and the access to have it is crucial. Therefore I would support increased funding to fill positions like these.
Do you support ongoing efforts by local municipal and county officials to bring Metra commuter rail service to Kendall County?
Kendall County is the fastest growing county in the state. If this trend continues, there will be a need for a commuter rail service for the county. If we want to continue to see pro- growth trends and attract families to the county, we need to continue to keep pace with other suburb’s amenities like rail services.
Would you support the county joining the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) as a condition for obtaining the service?
Many options have been discussed and the General Assembly has allocated $100 million which the RTA has withheld. We need to look at all options before any commitments are made.
How would you assess the county’s efforts to date to lure new businesses and industries to the county?
The current county board has successfully utilized its tools and worked with businesses and local municipalities to attract businesses and industry to the county. Projects like the Eldamain bridge, widening 47 and looking to expand the Ridge Road corridor are all things that entice business and industry to seek our county as a development hotspot.
What would you push for as a member of county government to boost local businesses?
Local businesses are a vital part of the county. As a county board, we need to encourage a regulatory environment that encourages businesses to plant roots in Kendall. Many people enjoy calling Kendall county home, we need to make sure our business environment follows suit with that philosophy.
If elected, will you enroll in the county employee health insurance program?
I do not anticipate enrolling in the county health insurance program.
What actions can the Kendall County Board take to minimize the tax burden on residents while, not sacrificing services?
he board can widen the tax base by attracting business and industry to the area. New businesses will Increase revenues through new assessments and additional sales taxes will help cover shortfalls. Additionally, the county should encourage departments to streamline and update services.
Do you support decreasing local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?
I would continue to support the practice of not raising property taxes on existing homes. New businesses will Increase revenues through new assessments and additional sales taxes will help cover shortfalls.
How would you encourage economic and employment growth within Kendall County?
The county needs to work in tandem with local municipalities to attract new businesses for property tax purposes. In unincorporated areas, we need to look at the possibility of attracting industry from interstate 80 to encourage growth. The completion of the Wikaduke Trail should be a high priority for the county board to ensure economic and employment growth.
Do you think there is a local crime problem? If so, what needs to be done about it?
I don’t believe any area can be crime free, but our sheriff and local municipalities do a nice job serving the community because our local government officials do a nice job supplying our police departments with the tools required to successfully do their jobs. We need to continue to be supporters of
What local road and bridge projects should be a priority to get done in the county?
The continuation of the Eldamain Bridge is essential to the county. Additionally, the Wikaduke Trail and the Ridge Road corridor are vital to the county’s future. Connecting Ridge road from I-88 to I-80 would grant the county another north- south road. I believe adding this connection would attract businesses to the area as there is already a healthy rooftop population in the corridor to support businesses and shops.
Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?
In order to maintain integrity and trust, government officials must be ethical. I support efforts to help maintain trust and integrity in local government. Passing ordinances to support these measures and following state guidelines is important.
What are your thoughts on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?
I believe FOIA is a right of the taxpayers. Taxpayer money funds infrastructure projects, it pays for law enforcement and public works salaries, funds the health department, among many other things, so it is the right of the taxpayer to have reasonable knowledge about the ongoing functions of government.
Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.
Transparency starts with honesty. Our county needs to continue to serve the people with honesty in order to be transparent. Simple things such as listing contact information of elected officials, honoring FOIA requests, digitizing and providing easy access to annual budgets, providing third party audits to the public, having checks and balances on contracts and bids, and disclose lobbying efforts are all ideas that will help maintain county transparency.
Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign non- disclosure agreements with private businesses?
As a general rule, as a public servant, I do not think that government officials should be allowed to sign NDAs. There are a few exceptions where I believe NDAs may be warranted. One instance would be an economic development director dealing with a private business who must disclose financial information as part of a development agreement.
Would you push for or against government officials and employees being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?
I believe this is a case by case basis. Generally, I do not think that government officials should be allowed to sign NDAs. There are a few exceptions where I believe NDAs may be warranted. One instance would be an economic development director dealing with a private business who must disclose financial information as part of a development agreement. If they are signed, there should be a limit of time and scope. When the NDA is expired, it should be fully disclosed to the public.