Larry West, DeKalb County Board 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

Election 2024
DeKalb County Board, District 1 candidate Larry M. West

DeKalb County Board District 1 candidate Larry West answered Shaw Local’s election questionnaire for the DeKalb County Board primary election.

Voting ends for the primary election on the evening of June 28.

Full Name: Larry M West

What office are you seeking? County Board District 1

What offices, if any, have you previously held? County Board District 1

City: Malta

Occupation: Field service Manager

The DeKalb County Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a public facility owned by DeKalb County government, is under financial distress, according to county officials. Budget constraints brought to light in 2021 made it difficult for the center to maintain its financial independence. The county board last year dissolved the center’s operating board, and hired a consultant to help determine the future of the facility: Whether to sell it (current county leadership says that is not the preference), or how to maintain its financial autonomy. If elected, what would you want to see become of the county nursing home?

Ideally keeping the nursing home would be best. Being a good fiscal board, we have to weigh where the funds would come from to operate the center and what areas of the county would be impacted to accomplish this. A trend of more seniors’ staying home is impacting the center financially.

How would you address financial constraints at the nursing home as a county board member?

If we as a board and county cannot fiscally support the center without impacting the other areas of the county, I would not see any other choice but to pursue the recommendation given to the board.

What are the three biggest challenges facing the DeKalb County Board?

Solar acreage and use

Nursing and Rehab center

Keeping taxes the same or reduction

Please provide specific ideas for how you would address these issues if elected, or solutions you would offer?

Solar - A clear and complete plan with input from landowners, non-participating landowners and companies. A proposal that is clear and benefits everyone. There will always be someone not happy, as a board and committee we need to do our best. Rehab Center - Review the budget and income and listen to constituents, employees, and the firm hired to give a recommendation. Then choose the best option for the county as a whole. Again, the choice will not make everyone happy but as a board we need to make the best choice for the county and the future.

What makes you specifically qualified to run for DeKalb County Board? What would you bring to the table, and how would it benefit the board? Please provide specific examples.

I have served on the board for the last 4 years on various committees. My ability to work with different views and being able to see both sides of a topic (to the best of my ability) help during discussions.

In 2021, the DeKalb County Board took up votes for several solar energy farms of significant size. The projects, which were approved amid some lengthy debate, spawned a significant amount of community feedback, some negative, some positive, some related to county board regulations for future farms. Where do you stand on the topic of solar energy, and what role do you believe the county board should play in that?

Solar energy can be beneficial. Currently the amount of acreage needed is excessive compared to other energy produced by other forms or green energy. I support solar energy; however, I see this being more beneficial if the funding was used to install panels on homes to use directly then in a large industrially use. If you had a neighborhood with solar on all homes this would take any strain off the current energy system and maybe even return energy into the system.

Landowners should be able to do what they want with their land following rules in place. Being a good neighbor to nonparticipating landowners should be taken into account.

The DeKalb County Board’s budget was passed for Fiscal Year 2022 at $96 million. Would you advocate to change it or make cuts? If so, where? Why or why not?

At this time, I could not see any changes.

Inflation across the nation has greatly impacted the price of gasoline, food and supplies. Recent rent hikes also are affecting local communities, forcing relocation for those reliant on subsidized housing in DeKalb County, according to a recent Daily Chronicle report and the DeKalb County Housing Authority, which is a branch of county government. What can the DeKalb County Board do to address relief of everyday expenses, and reduce the tax burden on local residents?

After the issues we have faced with the rehab center, I would like to see more involvement of the board in the housing authority. There are a number of ways to do this.

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, DeKalb County’s population dropped by about 4,000 people over the past decade, mostly concentrated in the DeKalb area. Population sizes can directly impact revenue streams for municipal budgets such as local sales tax and motor fuel use, and economic development. How would you rank economic development as a priority within your campaign, and what, if elected, would you do to ensure DeKalb County progresses into the next decade?

Economic development is very important. The current Meta and Amazon projects are boosting the economy. Long term would be to help sustain these projects, utilize NIU as we currently are to attached more sporting events (IHSA Football). To grow we need to show DeKalb county is safe for people to move and stay in (clean up and improve areas needing help), Attractive jobs (above projects), and more businesses (Restaurants for example)

Assess the DeKalb County Health Department’s actions to combat COVID-19? What changes, if any, need to be made related to the pandemic?

The DeKalb County Health Department has done a good job and followed the rules set before them. However, The Covid numbers are not accurate. Even more so with the at home test kits. Who is checking to see what the results are from an at home kit? If someone tests positive, they go to the clinic and get tested again. This number is reported. If your tested negative, you will not report it. At home kits do not reflect a true number of those tested and don’t give an accurate percentage.

How would you encourage economic and employment growth within DeKalb County?

Promote more sport events at NIU, promote more functions from all towns thru DeKalb County. Promote the current expansion and potential jobs available and coming to DeKalb County.

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

Local crime has increased. There is not any one thing that will solve the issue. Starting out hold property owners responsible if there are repeated calls to their property. A majority of the issues seem to be in the same areas. Encourage City board members to be more active to help decrease crime in their areas.

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

Our current Highway Engineer has a plan and has done an outstanding job in this area. The highway committee has as well.

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

While everyone would love decreasing property taxes, we should keep them the same, not raising them, until we see the long-term effects of the lockdowns imposed.

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

Everyone should be held accountable. This includes Government Officials. So yes, I do support stronger and more sever ethics laws.

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

The elected officials work for the public. Why is this even a question? The public should be able to view what their elected officials are saying and discussing.

Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.

Being truthful if asked any question. Complying with any Information requested. Open meetings.

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

As mentioned before supporting projects like Amazon and Meta, supporting local businesses, supporting and being open to more projects.

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

While serving in office No.

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

Any elected official should not sign a non-disclosure agreement.