Savannah Ilenikhena, DeKalb County Board 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

Election 2024
DeKalb County Board candidate Savannah Ilenikhena

Full Name: Savannah Ilenikhena

What office are you seeking? DeKalb County Board

City: Cortland

Occupation: Program Director

Education: Bachelor of Arts- Psychology, Masters of Arts- Forensic Psychology

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?

I would love to see the nursing home stay in DeKalb County. I would also like the County Board to make a decision that would benefit the hardworking employees of the nursing home and the county.

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

As a county board member, I would recommend that the board assess the situation and use information or data available to make a sound decision beneficial to both the county and hardworking employees at the nursing home.

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

From information gathered, I believe the biggest challenge includes the decision regarding DeKalb County Nursing Home.

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

In order to address issues, I would discuss the needs of each with my colleagues on the board and determine how beneficial each solution would be to the county.

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.

As an 11-year resident of DeKalb County, I established a new home in Cortland a few years ago as I enjoyed the sense of community and “small town feel”. During my years in this county, I have worked in non-profit, private, and government agencies with the county. I was strongly encouraged by local officials to consider running for this position which I believe I will make a great addition to. I bring an immense amount of knowledge and competency to this role as I previously held positions in DeKalb County Court Services, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, Safe Passage, and other local institutions. My experience includes advocacy, grant writing, budget management, and strategic planning.

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?

As citizens we all have the right to add or change things to our home which are private as long as we adhere to certain policies within the county (i.e., obtaining a permit). However, it becomes more of a public discussion when it reaches the level of possibly impacting county residents.

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?

After reviewing the budget, it appears that many departments have already identified ways to reduce costs and make changes that are more beneficial to employees and residents. Needless to say, I would advocate for a change if there appeared to be a need for one.

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?

Unfortunately, DeKalb County Government is also dealing with the effect of this inflation which is due to Federal Government policy and current global events. However, in lieu of this issue, it can be recommended that the tax burden on businesses and citizens be adjusted to alleviate the effect of this inflation.

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 important to the growth and sustainability of this county. If elected, I can ensure this progresses by supporting local businesses, marketing vacant properties owned by the County, and encouraging partnerships with local government, citizens, and businesses.

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 great job at following the CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health(IDPH) guidelines to lead and assist the county. I’d suggest continuing to do so which will ensure the safety of DeKalb County residents.

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

By continuing to support local businesses and encouraging partnerships between local government, businesses, and citizens of DeKalb County.

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

Due to an increase in incidents and inmate population at DeKalb County jail, I would surmise that there has been a slight increase in crime. However, our local law enforcement agencies have been effective in ensuring the safety of all DeKalb County citizens.

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

Our County Engineer has a schedule for road work/repairs needed in this county. In regard to bridges, there are studies made on all country bridges to determine when they need to be repaired. It is recommended that we continue following this.

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

I would advocate for decreasing local property taxes considering the difficulties that many families across DeKalb County are facing because of the ongoing inflation and current global events. The county can make up the difference by encouraging more investments from new investors and business interests.

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

There is always room for improvement so I welcome any discussions on how current ethic laws can be strengthened.

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

I believe that it is crucial for individuals to be able to access important information.

Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.

Transparency will strengthen the government as it advances efficiency and effectiveness. I would encourage transparency by promoting accountability and providing information to citizens.

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

I would encourage citizens to patronize local businesses more and recommend that the county government encourage the growth of more local businesses.

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

This may take away from the goal of transparency.

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

This may also take away from the goal of transparency.