Whiteside County Board District 2 candidate Karen Nelson answered Shaw Local’s election questionnaire for the Whiteside County Board primary election.
Voting ends for the primary election on the evening of June 28.
Full Name: Karen Nelson
What office are you seeking? Whiteside County Board Member in District 2
What offices, if any, have you previously held? 20 years on County Board
City: Rock Falls
Education: Associate degree from Sauk Valley College
Campaign Website: no
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?
To assist with Zoning regulations and building codes in the unincorporated areas of the county to help build more affordable 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?
Encourage applicants to get the necessary training by allowing them to work and mentor these positions when they are new. Whiteside has a Special Service Area for ambulance service in the county.
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 would not be in favor of privatizing ambulance services. But any state funding we could get to existing units would be great.
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 County is now in the process of using ARPA funds to get Broadband thruout 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?
Counties are involved in all the zoning regulations for solar and wind expansion. They can work with the companies to achieve more expansion thru approval by the county board.
I feel that mega-solar farms are not a good idea since they take out a lot of good farm land from production. One solution would be to keep using roof applications for solar and search for land that is not good productive farm land for the bigger solar applications.
Should counties do more to expand access to county government?
Access to county government is always there. Anyone is welcome to attend any meetings, talk to their local county board members or access info online. However, the general public does not do this very often.
Should video of committees and board meetings be continued/expanded?
It should be continued.
Should the county website be updated?
Our county website is kept up to date.
Should board members be required to have email connections?
What technology upgrades and resource allocation is required to make it happen?
Broadband is definitely to attract big companies.
What challenges is the region facing in terms of attracting business and tourism?
Competition is stiff among the local counties along Route 88 to attract business. Our proximity to Quad Cities, Rockford and Chicago is challenging.
What tools and services do northern Illinois communities have that can be better applied to this effort?
Transportation, good central location in the United States, and good highway connection both north and south.
What are your thoughts on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?
It is fine as written and enforced.
Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.
Continue with open meetings, answer any phone calls and questions that anyone may have.
What would you push for as a member of county government to boost local businesses?
Encourage local business to expand within county.
Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign nondisclosure agreements with private businesses?
Would you push for or against government officials and employees being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?
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?
Monitor taxes that are assessed at the county level. Sales tax could be adjusted up or down depending on the rate of inflation.
What local road and bridge projects should be a priority to get done in the county?
County already has a list of roads and bridges that have first priority.
Do you support decreasing local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?
Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?
Is the Whiteside County airport underutilized, especially as it has a runway that can handle commercial traffic?
Is it a matter of promotion?
How can the airport be an economic boon?
Cities of Sterling and Rock Falls need to do more to attract tourism and new businesses.
Whiteside County set aside $5 million in ARPA funds for unspecified projects. How should that money be spent and why?
Whiteside County has just solicited applications from anyone in the county who was affected by COVID shut down to their business. All of those applications will be reviewed to see if the applicants are eligible for the funding. then county board will vote on the amounts to be awarded to each.