Whiteside County Board District 1 candidate Kurt Glazier answered Shaw Local’s election questionnaire for the Whiteside County Board.
Voting ends for the primary election on the evening of June 28.
Full Name: Kurt Glazier
What office are you seeking? Whiteisde County Board Member - District 1
What offices, if any, have you previously held? Whiteside County Board Member - District 1 - December 2010 to present
Sterling Township Highway Commissioner - May 2017 to present
Sterling Precinct 17 Committeeman - April 2012 to present
Occupation: Sterling Township Highway Commissioner
Education: Associates in Technology - Highway Engineering - Morrison Institute of Technology
Campaign Website: Kurt Glazier for District 1 Whiteside County Board - https://www.facebook.com/profile.php? id=100079071345621
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 does not control the real estate market. However, the county board townships and the building and zoning officer need to work in concert with one another to allow new housing to be developed in conjunction with local zoning ordinances.
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?
This is an issue that would need to be addressed by the appropriate fire and ambulance districts. Some of the staff shortages are due to the stringent and demanding training standards set forth by the state which is necessary, but not every individual has the time to devote to all of the extra hours that are required for being volunteer EMTs and firefighters. Consolidation of districts may need to become an option at some point if staffing level cannot be increased.
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?
Possibly. However, the local fire and ambulance services aside from those in Morrison, Sterling and Rock Falls are all covered by local fire and ambulance districts. All the Whiteside County Board does is appoint members to some of the fire and ambulance districts in the county. Others are elected. Those trustees/board members would make that decision - not the Whiteside County Board.
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?
It is already happening. In Whiteside County, ARPA funds are being designated for rural broadband services where it is lacking. Several broadband companies have already installed high speed internet lines in Sterling Township which has increased and improved internet connections for many residents.
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?
Lee County has been a leader in allowing wind energy for two decades now. Lee and Whiteside Counties are beginning to permit solar farms. However, I do not feel that prime farmland should be allowed to be rezoned and taken out of production for wind and solar farms. Our farmland is precious to our local economy. There are areas where solar farms, for example, could be situated where less than desirable farmland exists.
Should counties do more to expand access to county government?
I am not quite sure what is meant by this question. My personal opinion is that Whiteside County provides good access to its residents, but there is always room for improvement. Perhaps more staff is needed in some departments, but that would cost the taxpayers for more salaries, benefits, etc.
Should video of committees and board meetings be continued/expanded?
Simply put, yes. Our normal Whiteside County Board meetings should be streamed live to the public and to allow participation from home or even while away from home.
Should the county website be updated?
Yes. It should also be more user friendly, and more forms that are needed by the public should be made available. Each county board member should have their picture, home address and contact information be made available on the website.
Should board members be required to have email connections?
We already do in Whiteside County.
What technology upgrades and resource allocation is required to make it happen?
Allow the board members and each department to suggest their ideas to the board. Each change would need to be evaluated to ensure the ideas are within county policies and State laws. A consultant could be enlisted to make the necessary changes to the website. It is critical and essential to have a current website available to the public.
What challenges is the region facing in terms of attracting business and tourism?
That duty falls on the shoulders of the County’s Economic Development Director in concert with local economic development directors. Attracting more tourism would be a joint effort between the State of Illinois and local communities as Whiteside County does not have a tourism department. However, the county should help promote tourism within the county and its communities.
What tools and services do northern Illinois communities have that can be better applied to this effort?
It has the people to do this. My answer to the previous question addresses this question.
What are your thoughts on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?
The laws defining what can be provided to those requesting information needs to be made clearer to those providing the information. Web based request forms need to be made available. Transparency needs to be increased - more information needs to on our website. Whiteside County needs more than the County Administrator as its FOIA Officer when the Sterling Police Department has three FOIA Officers. In my opinion, there needs to be two more FOIA officers in the courthouse, and the Sheriff’s Department needs to have two FOIA officers.
Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.
Everyone need to follow State and Federal laws. The transparency lies with the department heads and staff. The board oversees complaints and problems brought to the board’s attention.
What would you push for as a member of county government to boost local businesses?
That duty lies primarily with our County Economic Development and each community economic development director. However, I feel an Economic Development Board comprised of some county board members in conjunction with the County Economic Development and each community economic development director should be created.
Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign nondisclosure agreements with private businesses?
You would be going against the standards of the Statement of Economic Interest Statement, so, no.
Would you push for or against government officials and employees being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?
Please refer to my answer to the previous question.
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?
We have reduced staff to a level where we cannot do much more with less in all levels of government in Illinois. We have studied staff salaries to avoid losing staff to the private sector and have made salary adjustments, but the losses still continue. Our Public Defender’s office is struggling to find a person to fill a much needed legal position. At times, the public demands more, while our employees cannot provide the services in the most timeliest fashion. It is a difficult question to answer completely when the only real answer is to either raise fees or levy more taxes for our county department, and both are things that no one wants to do.
Do you think there is a local crime problem? If so, what needs to be done about it?
Yes - very much so. More county deputies are needed as are community police officers, but due to certain changes in our laws, it is difficult to attract people to become interested in law enforcement. Punishment for crimes seems to be lessening rather than staying the same or maintaining the current penalties already in place. We seem to be getting softer on criminals, and by doing so, crime seems to be increasing all over.
What local road and bridge projects should be a priority to get done in the county?
As a highway commissioner, we do not seem to be getting enough funding for repairing our roads. There is funding for bridge repairs through federal and state bridge repairs. But, at the rural level for township roads, all we can do is essentially put a bandaid on the problem. There is not a good funding mechanism for paved township roads. The county has been doing a good job at getting one major road resurfaced each year, but it would be nice to get two roads resurfaced a year. The gas tax increase does not seem to have helped us much since it was implemented in 2019.
Do you support decreasing local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?
There is no way to decrease local property taxes when we are a state the operates on property tax revenues. There would be no way for the county to make up the difference.
Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?
We follow State guidelines and laws, and have our own policies in place already. What we need is our leaders to reprimand the employees when they violate the State guidelines and laws and County policies. While not being anti-union, some departments have unionized, and that makes it harder at times to punish or terminate an employee due to the steps of progressive discipline written into the union contracts.
Is the Whiteside County airport underutilized, especially as it has a runway that can handle commercial traffic?
Yes. It was once an airport with regular passenger service, and it is too bad that we do not have that available. We have lost a large number of businesses in the county over the last 30 to 35 years, and company executives and prospective business clients used to fly in and out of the Whiteside County Airport. It would be nice to have a facility such as what the Rochelle Airport does with a restaurant and even a skydiving business or airplane rides available to the public. We need to attract new businesses that will want clients and prospective customers in order to attract the commercial air traffic.
Are there other investments to be made at the airport?
Please see my response to the previous question.
Is it a matter of promotion?
Yes - we could stand to promote the Whiteside County Airport more. It is an asset that many counties around us do not have!
How can the airport be an economic boon?
Please refer to my response to question number 33.
Whiteside County set aside $5 million in ARPA funds for unspecified projects. How should that money be spent and why?
There are plans for that money, and some projects have already begun. Technology improvements such as laptops or Ipads for the county board members to reduce paper would be a start. We were given tablets that are not much bigger than some cell phones. The court rooms are being modernized. The courthouse is almost 40 years old, it needs some repairs made to it along with fresh paint on the walls. The sheriff’s department could stand to have more office space for its deputies when they are working on reports. One project that some of the money could earmarked for is one dispatch center for the entire county. We need to get moving on that project rather than just talk about it!