Kane County Board, District 11 candidate Walter Lindwall 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: Walter Lindwall
What office are you seeking? Kane County Board District 11
What offices, if any, have you previously held? I am a Precinct-Committeeman of the Geneva Township Democrats
Occupation: Teacher’s Aide/Debate Coach
Education: Attended the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign for Political Science
Campaign Website: Walterlindwall.org
Do you support decreasing local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?
With a budget surplus, the County should be looking to shore up its finances in order to make our budget last. At this point in time, filling much needed vacant roles and improving services provided to the community should be the priority. As such, I do not support decreasing property taxes.
What local road and bridge projects should be a priority to get done in the county?
I would consult with the Board Chair and County administrators as well as survey constituent feedback on immediate infrastructure necessities if elected. Current developments and projects should receive priority. The Kane County Department of Transportation has road improvements and maintenance reliably planned out through 2040 so the greater difficulty will be ensuring consistent revenue to maintain this roadmap.
Do you think there is a local crime problem? If so, what needs to be done about it?
Looking at the reports in crime statistics released by the Sheriff’s department over the last three years, there has been a general decline in crime trends by over 16%. That is not to say that crime is non-existent in our community. To curb it, it is necessary to address the circumstances that drive people to commit crimes.
How will you work to keep crime low in Kane County?
I would first continue the work of the Sheriff’s department that has helped bring trends in crime down over the last three years by supporting programs that help reduce recidivism and support reintegration.
I would also work to increase resources towards the services that address the root of crime such as food insecurity, improving funding for mental health services, expanding employment and housing assistance services, and reducing inequities in social determinants of health. Working together as a supportive community we can keep crime low across the county and help those most in need.
Do you support Sheriff Hain’s prearrest diversion program?
Yes, Sheriff Hain’s and States Attorney Mossier’s program has been extremely successful. The program assists nonviolent offenders in seeking assistance where it is most needed in order to reduce the chance of reincarceration. That means assisting in seeking housing, addiction treatment, behavioral and mental health support, and much more.
We should not only be looking to increase collaboration among the County’s municipal police departments, but also promote it as a standard for our neighboring communities in order to expand its success elsewhere.
Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?
Strong government ethics laws are essential to maintaining government transparency and the public trust. I think we should look to other counties and municipalities to compare existing ethical standards and areas for our own improvement. After serving on the board of a government ethics non-profit for three years, I can attest to the value of such statues in avoiding potential corruption.
What would you push for as a member of county government to boost local businesses?
In addition to providing additional recovery grants to local businesses, the County should push for intergovernmental cooperation between municipalities, as well as collaborate with community stakeholders to identify areas for improvement both in terms of policy and promotion. The county can accomplish this by launching a cooperative task force focused on promoting tourism and economic development. The County has many resources at its disposal for promotion such as its many flourishing small businesses and the natural value of the Fox River.
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?
The County is competing with private businesses that offer better salaries and benefits for reasonable hours.
How can the county seek to retain employees?
If we are to maintain the standard the public expects of its government, the County must look to improve not only County employee’s wages, but also their benefits, as well as address areas of improvement in the workplace. I have committed to working alongside AFSCME members in improving their contracts and helping fulfill these roles and have earned their endorsement.
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?
If I were to support such a tax, I would need further information on what goods and services are targeted, how revenue from the tax would be allocated, and if the value of the revenue gained would outweigh any detriment to commerce, local businesses, or individuals affected by the tax. I believe there is a way to target services that primarily affect more affluent members of our community, but barring that, most sales taxes are regressive in nature and only serve to burden most citizens.
If there were an increase in retail tax revenue, what would you use the additional funds for?
For any additional revenue, I would first look to social services to see if there is any need for additional funding. I would also look to bolster the County’s investments in electric vehicles and offsetting costs for alternative energy sources.
Do you support a county gas tax hike? Why or why not?
Given current gas prices, I do not support an increase in the County’s gas tax. The County has other means to increase revenue should that become a necessity.
If there were an increase in the county gas tax revenue, how would you propose using the new money?
In addition to my previous answer, given any additional revenue sources for the county, I would look to additional ways to reduce the County’s carbon footprint. We are currently on track to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040, however, it is my goal to find ways to move this timeline as close to 2030 as possible.
Do you support more warehouse and industrial development in Kane County? Why/why not?
Yes, such developments typically bring jobs and revenue while utilizing unused land. Such projects should be approved while taking into consideration relevant public health and environmental impact expectations of course.
How can municipalities best deal with the increase in semi-truck traffic?
Semi-truck traffic is a good problem to have as it is a sign of a functioning supply chain. The best way to plan around semi-truck traffic is to maintain weight and height limits in collaboration with municipalities. Proper urban planning is essential to maintaining efficiency for both commuters and truckers.
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, especially when County money becomes involved in such transactions. The public has a right, at minimum, to know where and how its tax dollars are being spent. Any utilization of public resources should be under the scrutiny of the public.
What are your thoughts on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?
FOIA is an excellent tool utilized by activists, organizers, and the press to hold elected officials accountable to their actions. I have personally utilized it in my own organizing activities and while working as Student Body President of the University of Illinois.
Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.
It is important that the average citizen has access to information on what the county government is actively doing. I would work to improve the County’s communication with its residents as well as the user-friendliness of the County’s web services such as the Clerk’s office site. I also believe the County Government should look for ways of communicating its work in addition to the agendas it currently provides, which can be hard for the average citizen to understand and also commonly lack the context necessary for citizens to follow. In particular, I want to work with the Clerk’s office to increase direct outreach to voters both for registration and election information. Accessibility is paramount to effective transparency, and as such, I will work to make the County meet this standard.
Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign nondisclosure agreements with private businesses?
Non-disclosure agreements with private businesses create a large amount of uncertainty where the public trust is concerned. Even reasonable exceptions still create gaps in the public’s expectations and introduce uncertainty into an elected official’s motivations. I do not support public officials being allowed to sign such agreements.
Would you push for or against government officials and employees being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?
I would support restrictions on public official’s ability to sign non-disclosure agreements in the interest of government transparency.
How can the county best support municipalities that are seeking to promote restaurants, nightlife, tourism (St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia)?
First, the County should build on its successful collaboration with restaurants and shops to attract commerce through festivals and county attractions. Secondly, the County can seek to maintain ideal infrastructure, such as public and rail infrastructure while also maintaining walkability among the County’s many communities. Thirdly, the County should look to improve its advertising of Forest Preserve features and services in order to attract tourism in the area.
How long should the county support the Kane Vax Center in Batavia?
The county should continue to support the Vax center so long as there is a need for it in the community. The pandemic is still ongoing, so we should maintain a cautious outlook on its necessity.
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?
The county can improve its funding by better surveying the need for resources where necessary. In that sense, communication is key to improving community collaboration and eliminating inefficiencies so that we can do the most good. Following this, I would seek to streamline and expand opportunities for grant rewards from the County in areas for both mental health services, homeless shelters, and food pantries.
Do you support giving a larger chunk of the $103 million in funding the county received to social services?
Yes, the lion’s share of the funding should be going directly towards supporting County residents impacted by the many effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as was intended. Given current County budgetary conditions, we should be looking to give larger portions of funding to social services in the future.
Do you agree with the county paying the college tuition of a public employee? Please explain.
Continuing Education benefits are essential not only to maintaining highly qualified County staff, but also integral to improving their skills which in turn lead to direct benefits for County residents. We should be seeking to expand benefits like these that help make the County a more competitive employer in the current marketplace as well as bring direct benefits to County services.