Full Name: Michael Linder
What office are you seeking? Kane County Board Member - District 13
What offices, if any, have you previously held? I was a St. Charles Park District Commissioner for 6 years early in my post-college career. In that one term I rotated through one year as treasurer and one year as president.
City: St Charles
Occupation: I am retired
Education: Bachelor or Science in Community Recreation and Parks from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Master of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University
Campaign Website: In development url currently uncertain
Do you support decreasing local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?
Almost nobody likes paying taxes, and in Illinois, real estate taxes are high. But Kane County derives much less than half of its revenue from these taxes. The tax rate for Kane County has not increased in more than ten years. The largest portion of your real estate tax bill goes to the schools and other taxing bodies. A decrease in the Kane County portion of the real estate tax would have to come from some form of tax relief provided by the Illinois General Assembly.
What local road and bridge projects should be a priority to get done in the county?
The county is in the process of finishing the Longmeadow Parkway in the extreme northern portion of the County. In cooperation with the state, the interchange at Randall Road and Interstate 90 must be improved. A complete review of bridges and roads in the county would reveal needed repairs.
Do you think there is a local crime problem? If so, what needs to be done about it?
As long as there is crime, it is a problem. I believe that one of the biggest causes of crime is poverty. Men and women with good paying jobs have little incentive to commit crime.
Job development programs are urgently needed. The job training and linking done by the Sheriff’s department for jail inmates and for non-inmates in some of the parts of the county most impacted my poverty and crime are a good initial step.
How will you work to keep crime low in Kane County?
I will support the programs of Sheriff Hain and State Attorney Mosser to help accused and convicted criminals to improve their chances by counseling, job training and job linking. I will also look at every development project that comes before the Board to evaluate the job creation value of the proposal.
Do you support Kane County’s pre-arrest diversion program?
Editor’s note: This question has been updated from a previous version to correct that the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office created the program and the Kane County Sheriff’s office participates in it.
Absolutely. The program doesn’t work for every accused, but for those who are arrested for non-violent crimes, without a long history of arrest and expressing a genuine desire to change, improving lives is a better route than prosecution and punishment. A criminal record for one mistake can sometimes prevent someone from securing honorable employment. Given a chance, when appropriate, that person can be a. productive member of our community.
Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?
I think we need a clearer understanding of expectations for both elected officials and county employees, spelled in in ordinances and policy statements that can be put into a single document that is easy to understand and spells out what is and is not acceptable, how suspected infractions should be reported, what documentation is done when an action is justified though might be questioned, and the consequences for violation are set forth. Every employee and every public official should receive these understandings in writing, and should be trained in them.
What would you push for as a member of county government to boost local businesses?
We have one beautiful asset that many other locales can’t match, and that is the Fox River. The river is enhanced by our forest preserves and our bike and hiking trails.
Promoting Kane County as a great. place to visit for a day or a weekend or more will help. Kane County is also a great. place to live and work and we need to emphasize that. As a county, we should strive to buy local whenever is it practical.
Why do you think the county has had some positions open for a while and a number of employees have left the county in recent times. Why do you think county employees are leaving?
There are multiple reasons, some of them interrelated. Many of our entry level positions are paid poorly. As the employment picture for workers improved, businesses that employ entry-level employees raised their salaries, and for some positions, we no long compete in the labor market place. Departments that are understaffed, whether because of turnover or budgetary restraints find employees with too large a workload, and with less job satisfaction because they can’t cover all the bases they should. These factors can cause employees to look elsewhere.
How can the county seek to retain employees?
We must rase entry level salaries, and look at salaries for comparable positions for other than entry level. Employee recognition is important. I’m thinking of the people in Public Health who had the entire pandemic and vaccine responsibility thrust upon them. We must adequately staff every department so that the opportunity for success is present in each job.
Do you support adding either a 0.25% or 0.50% retail tax to non-essential purchases (excluding groceries and gas)? Why or why not?
The proposal for the special sales tax on non-essential purchases is under consideration, but should the County Board decide it is wise to pursue, the question would be put to a referendum before the voters at a general election. A tax of 0.25% on a $100 purchase would be only 25 cents.
That is not an onerous burden. But the law allowing for this proposal to go to referendum requires that the County Board identify one of several areas in which the new tax would be expended, so before deciding on my support, I’d need to know how the county intends to spend the new revenue.
If there were an increase in retail tax revenue, what would you use the additional funds for?
There are 5 or 6 permissible areas in which the funds could be used, but the referendum would be for a tax for only one of those areas. Right now the two areas that I feel need the most help are mental health/substance abuse and criminal justice/crime prevention. The mental health and substance abuse issues have mushroomed through years of the Covid- 19 pandemic. And some changes in state law, putting unfunded burden on the sheriff and state attorney offices would warrant money be devoted there.
Do you support a county gas tax hike? Why or why not?
Gasoline is an essential purchase. We don’t have a sophisticated public transportation system in Kane County, so for most people, the operation of an automobile is almost essential. If the transportation department needs additional revenue for roads and bridges, a tax might be needed, but right now with inflation, horribly high gas prices, etc., this is not the right time.
If there were an increase in the county gas tax revenue, how would you propose using the new money?
A gasoline tax should be seen as a user fee. So operators of motor vehicles should benefit directly from those new taxes, should they be enacted. So improvement to our roadways, bridges and intersections would be paramount.
Do you support more warehouse and industrial development in Kane County? Why/why not?
That is a tough question. A huge warehouse complex can bring large real estate taxes, and provide needed jobs. But warehouses usually bring semi-trucks and semi-trucks bring congestion and wear and tear on the roads. In approving any new development of this sort, the traffic and roadway implication for the towns and villages as well as county roads need to be considered. Careful study of all these implications, positive and negative should dictate the final decision on any proposal.
How can municipalities best deal with the increase in semi-truck traffic?
Planning helps. Developing special truck routes that keep the semi-trailer trucks and other large trucks off of residential streets and the central business districts unless they are making local deliveries is a long-term idea. By-pass highways, like the Route 20 bypass in Elgin should be constructed. But these are very expensive solutions that take years to put in place. Sometimes the best answer to a development that will significantly increase truck traffic is, “No thank you.”
Should county & municipal officials be required to disclose to the public the identity of a business, such as Amazon, that seeks to locate in the county?
Yes, except in the early stages of negotiating a land purchase, when surrounding land prices could be adversely affected. Once a project goes before committees of the County Board, application for. permits PUD proposals, etc. are made, the public should be fully informed. Some types of businesses, or specific companies may have real or perceived negative impact on people or communities, and the citizens deserve the opportunity to present objections (or endorsements.)
What are your thoughts on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?
The Freedom of Information Act should be taken seriously. Of course sometimes to protect the rights and privacy of individuals a name or address must be redacted. This is especially true in employment cases. But the State Attorney does a good job of managing the process. FOIA requests should be honored and responded to with dispatch once necessary permissible redactions are made.
Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.
I’d like to maintain many of the policies that are in place. The County Board and its committees post their meeting dates and time along with the meeting agenda, and the meetings may be attended in person or viewed live or recorded online. Minutes, once approved for these meetings are also posted. The County Board recently employed a public information officer to improve communication through press releases and a strong social media presence. Important decisions that might bring rise to controversy should be discussed at open town hall meetings with full disclosure and opportunity for public input, spoken or submitted in writing.
Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign non- disclosure agreements with private businesses?
As it would apply to Kane County business, no
Would you push for or against government officials and employees being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?
Yes. I think this could be accomplished through the ethics review from an earlier question.
How can the county best support municipalities that are seeking to promote restaurants, nightlife, tourism (St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia)?
Again, that promotion of Kane County as a great place to visit and in which to live and work. Our main asset is the river, the trails, the preserves. Our hospitality options should be a part of that promotion.
How long should the county support the Kane Vax Center in Batavia?
As long a justified by the needs of the public. We don’t know exactly what is going to happen with the pandemic. Should it. wind down, or the need increase again, the answer would be different. But the current facility is affordable through the generosity of the land owner and the City of Batavia who is providing utility assistance. The very size of the current facility must require extra staff and volunteers, so it might be wise to look for an affordable option of smaller size.if needed at all.
The County Board used more of the revenue it received from the American Rescue Plan to fund mental health services than it gave to social safety net services such as homeless shelters and food pantries. How can the county make funding for nonprofits impacted by the pandemic more equitable?
There is still a lot of money in the American Rescue Plan accounts. Future disbursements should include a broader range of services. But some social services have a larger base of community support year-in and year-out, and the ARP funds should not be distributed because everybody wants a piece of the pie. Genuine needs, including mental health and substance abuse should be weighed in making grant decisiions.
Do you support giving a larger chunk of the $103 million in funding the county received to social services?
As need warrants, yes. But again, it’s not a matter of giving every agency a piece. Decisions must be made on the basis of community needs..
Do you agree with the county paying the college tuition of a public employee? Please explain.
The full tuition of a degree program for a single employee, which evidently happened, with multiple credit card payments over time, is not acceptable. The county should pay for a course or courses that increase the competancy of an employee in their job, when the county needs that increased competency. The funding should require an application endorsed by the employee’s department head and reviewed, Even then there should be a recapture agreement, so that if the employee does not receive an acceptable grade or does not remain in county employ for a specified time after completion, the employee pays the county back.