August 15, 2022
Election


Election

Ruben Rodriguez, Kendall County Board 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

Kendall County Board candidate Ruben Rodriguez

Full Name: Ruben Rodriguez

What office are you seeking? Kendall County Board

What offices, if any, have you previously held? I’m currently on the Kendall County Board. I was appointed January, 5 2021. I filled the seat vacated by Matt Prochaska.

City: Yorkville Il

Occupation: Banking Industry - Technology

Education: Associate of Science, Waubonsee Community College, Sugar Grove, Il (1981)

Bachelor of Science Degree, Electrical Engineering, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale Il (1985)

Campaign Website: No

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?

Kendall County has been one of the few entities in the county to not take the CPI Increase for the past several years. Tax increases have largely come from the School Districts, townships, municipalities, or other special districts that have their own governing board. However, to help drive taxes lower the county board needs to push for economic development for commercial or industrial development which will help with minimizing property taxes. Additional residential development will not have the same impact that commercial or industrial development would.

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.

I was appointed to the Kendall County Board Jan/2021. I was fortunate to have experienced the 2022 budgeting process. I witness the hard work and dedication that the KCB finance team and Finance committee put in place to provide guidance in the review and approval of the Kendall County budget. It was not easy, and many difficult discussions were had with department heads. Almost every department, had to cut their 2022 budget request in order to finalize a balanced budget. Of course, there’s always room for improvements but every department is already very lean.

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?

Personally, I will always be a big supporter of law enforcement. I believe that Kendall County Sheriff’s Office has phenomenal leadership. I know firsthand of the integrity and hard work that the sheriff’s office provides. When the sheriff comes to the board asking for more resources to combat crime, I’m going to listen and push to help find solutions. Priority will always be the safety and welfare of our officers and our community. Finding funding is always a challenge and must be a team effort. Funding could be acquired from the general fund, American Rescue Plan Act if the request qualifies, grants or the sheriff could provide suggestions. The newly acquired funds would have to be dedicated to the request that was made.

As a county board member, would you support increased funding and the hiring of additional staff for the Kendall County Health Department?

My short answer is”Yes”.As a newly appointed Kendall County member, I have been amazed by all the services that our Health Department provides our community. For example, during the COVID pandemic, the vaccination clinics and processes that KCHD staffing put in place were historic. Rarely has the Health Department leadership ever asked for additional staff except for recently. They needed extensive help regarding grants. Once grants are acquired, lots of work is required with administration and compliance. The board unanimously approved the request because our partners were in need. If it makes sense, we will find a way to make it happen.

Do you support ongoing efforts by local municipal and county officials to bring Metra commuter rail service to Kendall County?

I have been commuting to Chicago for over 25 years. My daily round trip commute per day is 3 hrs. That’s 15 hours per week which is barely sustainable. I live in Yorkville, and my commute to the Aurora Train Station is 30 minutes. Having a train station in Yorkville or Oswego would be a game-changer for thousands of people including me. I believe that this would be an added benefit for all of Kendall County. My answer is “Yes” to supporting Metra commuter rails service in Kendall County if funding for the service would make sense for Kendall. But it will be interesting to see what the plans will be after these past 2 years due to COVID. Ridership declined immensely from March 2020 to the present but it is starting to improve.

Would you support the county joining the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) as a condition for obtaining the service?

Since the Regional Transit Authority services Metra, we may not have a choice but to accept RTA along with Metra services. Ideally, I would just be interested in Metra services since this would benefit Kendall County the most. If RTA services would be required, the big question would be, how will this impact the taxpayers of Kendall County. Before we decide to join the RTA I would push for a county wide referendum on the matter.

How would you assess the county’s efforts to date to lure new businesses and industries to the county?

The Economic Development Committee focus is this exactly. There have been big accomplishments in preparing for the future to lure businesses into Kendall County, but there is more work to be done. We must continue to improve infrastructure and provide easy avenues for companies to bring their operation to Kendall County. As for infrastructure improvements, the Eldamain Bridget project is a perfect example of ways to lure industries to our county.

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

Local businesses are the heart of our community. As a board member, I will always be an advocate to help businesses succeed. We need to help streamline our processes to get businesses in operation and minimize roadblocks. This will help create trust and will improve the county’s reputation as a business-friendly county. For instance, recently the Kendall County Board awarded a total of $2M of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to small businesses in Kendall County due to loss revenue during COVID. Based on their losses, they could have qualified to receive a maximum of $25,000. The application process minimized roadblocks and it boost many local businesses. It was a team effort from the Kendall County finance team to the County Board to quickly help disperse the funds.

If elected, will you enroll in the county employee health insurance program?

No, I will be using my employer base healthcare.

What actions can the Kendall County Board take to minimize the tax burden on residents while, not sacrificing services?

Without sacrificing services, economic growth is key to minimize the tax burden on residents.

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

Property taxes in Kendall County are high and I am a big support of decreasing property taxes. I live in Yorkville and our property Tax Rate is 9.84. Approximately 70% of our property taxes are allocated to our schools and a small portion is allocated to the County. There is not much that the county board can do to help minimize our property taxes except for increasing our tax base by promoting economic growth.

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

I have lived in Kendall County since 2004. Over the years I have come to appreciate the highly skilled people that live in our county. The talent force in Kendall County is astounding.

This is one of the most important aspects of Economic and employment growth that is needed to attract new businesses. In addition, we need to continue to improve infrastructure and have a “Can Do” attitude when new business proposals are submitted.

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

Overall, crime rate in Kendall County is low. There are a few troubled areas in Kendall County, but the sheriff department provides extra patrols in these areas. In the meantime, I know that they get involved with the community as much as possible via community policing. This is key in creating a trusting partnerships with the community. Whenever something positive happens in these areas it broadcasted on social media and on the Kendall County Sheriff’s mobile app. This proactive approach needs to continue and grow.

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

One of biggest priorities was the Eldamain Bridge project and it’s close to coming to fruition. It’s expected to open to traffic by the end of the year (2022). The concept of the bridge started in the 1990′s and many hard-working people since then have helped with getting it finalized. As for local road projects, I feel that Rt. 47 is the next highest priority for Kendall County. It needs to be 4 lanes from Morris to Yorkville to Sugar Grove. There are 3 sections left to complete. In addition, we need to push for more North-South corridors like Eldamain Rd., such as completing the Collins Road Extension and the Wikaduke Trail in easter Kendall County. I believe that it would bring big industries to our county to help with are tax base.

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

Yes, I support government ethic laws. We have hired a County Inspector General to help investigate issues. We could always use additional measures that make sense. Currently, those I support are documented in the “County of Kendall Ethics Ordinance” (Ordinance Number 12-18).

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

I feel that transparency and accountability is of great importance and thus making FOIA an important law for all of us. I believe that the accountability that FOIA brings provides an extra layer of integrity for the board. But I have heard of scenarios where there is FOIA request abuse. It’s not good when FOIA requests are made that are purposely designed to waste the time of county resources. I’m for FOIA, when the requests are legitimate.

Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.

I have been on the board since January 2021. I quickly realized that Kendall County Board transparency is of the highest priority. The Kendall County Website is the best resource for providing transparency. The website has been developed to make it easy for the public to acquire information in a transparent manner. I will always be an advocate to continue to improve transparency on the website for easy access.

Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign non- disclosure agreements with private businesses?

I have never experienced this scenario but due to transparency, I feel that elected officials should not be allowed to sign non-disclosures. But there could be times when the County Administrator may need to sign a non- disclosure during negotiations. Once negotiations are completed and a plan has been determined it can become public record and presented to the board.

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

I would push for elected officials not to be allowed to sign non- disclosures. Research is needed, but I feel that signing of a non-disclosure by someone like the County Administrator my be required with strict signing guidelines that are reviewed by the State Attorney Office and approved by the County Board.