Election

Tom Hodge, Kane County Board 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

Kane County Board, District 14 candidate Tom Hodge

Kane County Board District 14 candidate Tom Hodge answered Shaw Local’s election questionnaire for the Kane County Board primary election.

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

Full Name: Tom Hodge

What office are you seeking? Kane County Board 14th District

City: SAINT CHARLES

Occupation: Realtor

Education: BA Communications Southern Illinois University

Licensed Real Estate Broker

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

I support decreasing property taxes. The difference can be made up a number of ways. The first being a more efficient spending process, there are always ways to rein in costs. I will work very hard to allocate our tax dollars wisely and will not support projects that have the potential to dramatically run over budget. The County should be using strong negotiation when dealing with purchase contracts after they are sent out through the bidding process. As well as working on a lean and efficient spending process, there are ways to increase retail spending, thereby increasing sales tax revenue.

Retail spending can be increased by drawing non-Kane County residents to Kane County. Kane county has one of the best outdoor recreation environments outside of Chicago and it needs to be tapped. The Fox River is a huge draw for boating, kayaking, fishing, swimming and just enjoying it’s natural beauty. Land along the river has become more and more valuable because of these factors. The increase in rapid growing outdoor sports are a great way to grow the economy in Kane County, including downhill mountain biking. It’s a trend that should be taken advantage of by the County as well. Kane county has some the most steep and hilly areas in the Chicagoland area with proximity to the river, including the Settlers Hill Landfill. The Landfill is bordered on both sides by Kane County owned businesses. To The west is Settlers Hill Golf Couse and to the East is the Fox Valley Ice Arena. The landfill can used as another revenue stream. The growth in the industry is enormous and Kane County can create one of the largest commercial Downhill Mountain Bike areas in the Midwest. The creation of the Downhill Mountain Bike area will bring in more hotel stays, restaurant diners, and bar patrons, bringing more retail spending and an increase in sales tax revenue.

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

There needs to be a round about at Silver Glen Rd and Burr Rd.

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

We do not have a local crime problem in the 14th district.

How will you work to keep crime low in Kane County?

I will work to keep crime low by supporting the efforts of the Kane County Sheriff’s Department, The State Attorney’s Office, and The Kane County Mental Health department through continued funding of those departments.

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.

I do support The pre-arrest diversion program.

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

I fully support the current Kane County Ethics Ordinance.

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

Kane County needs to Advertise itself along many formats, including digital, radio and television. Kane County can be the leading outdoor recreation county in the Chicagoland area with the right ad campaign. Millennials are transitioning from student loans to mortgages and are leaving the downtown city neighborhoods and moving to the suburbs. This generation spends a lot of time and money on outdoor recreation, and when they move, they don’t want to give that up. Growing the County with this generation will bring retail spending with them.

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?

Simply stated, the positions pay better in the private sector.

How can the county seek to retain employees?

The county needs to compete with private sector pay scales. County benefits are good, but many employees can get the same benefits with increased pay in the private sector. With today’s current labor crisis, if the County wants to attract highly qualified personnel, they need to at least match the private sector.

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?

No, now is not the time to raise sales tax. Costs are are increasing on most goods, with our current inflation rate.

If there were an increase in retail tax revenue, what would you use the additional funds for?

The additional funds could be used to offset property taxes, invest in a stronger mental heath department, which will cut down on crime and make our county safer. Some of the funds could also be used to boost residential growth, which would then increase retail spending.

Do you support a county gas tax hike? Why or why not?

No, gas prices are already high and creates an undue burden on the average working family.

If there were an increase in the county gas tax revenue, how would you propose using the new money?

Find a way to have it benefit working families.

Do you support more warehouse and industrial development in Kane County? Why/why not?

Yes, I do support more warehouse and industrial development, but only in current industrial zones with trucking routes that would not burden our infrastructure. Warehouse and industrial development can offset property taxes when done right.

How can municipalities best deal with the increase in semi-truck traffic?

Municipalities can set weight limits on roads and bridges at lower levels that trucks would have to avoid. Hours of operation could be restricted for certain weight class vehicles during periods of high volume traffic.

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, the public has a right to know what businesses are thinking of locating in the County and where.

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

The IFIA is a very important act, that give the public transparency in government.

Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.

Continue with the IFIA.

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

No, That would promote and atmosphere of unethical behavior.

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

I would push against government officials being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses.

How can the county best support municipalities that are seeking to promote restaurants, nightlife, tourism (St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia)?

The COVID restrictions that were put in place in order to open and serve in restaurants and bars in late 2020 and 2021 allowed for the use of the streets and sidewalks outside of their businesses. The atmosphere is festive and creates a feeling of community. It promotes people walking or biking to dinner, eating outside and enjoying the outdoors. St Charles has permanently closed 1st street, which allows for much more outdoor seating and connects the individual restaurants to one contiguous open space. The municipalities need to loosen up again, and An Ad campaign will go a long way as well.

How long should the county support the Kane Vax Center in Batavia?

The space does not need to be opened anymore. There are plenty of pharmacies throughout the County that provide free vaccines to anyone.

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?

Pre-COVID, maybe food pantries and homeless shelters needed more financial assistance than mental health service, but during the pandemic the amount of stress and anxiety on people grew exponentially. The lack of interaction with other people, the solitary existence, and the lack of human touch had a dramatic effect on a large part of our society. Suicides are up, drug overdoses are up and depression is up. All of those issues need mental health support and services to combat the crisis. Equitable funding between the 3 services will always be challenge to fund what is needed most at that time.

Do you support giving a larger chunk of the $103 million in funding the county received to social services?

I don’t know the percentage of the $103,000,000 that was given to social services in order to know if they need more or less.

Do you agree with the county paying the college tuition of a public employee? Please explain.

It is common practice in the private sector and attracts a high caliber of employee. It comes with agreements that you have to maintain a particular grade point average and you have to agree to work for the company for a particular amount of time. If these agreements are not kept , the the tuition must be paid back by the employee. It goes along with retaining highly qualified personnel.