August 15, 2022
Election


Election

Metra service? RTA for Kendall County? Board candidates have sharply different views

From outright support to steadfast opposition, candidates for seats on the Kendall County Board in the June 28 party primary elections expressed varying views when asked if they support efforts to extend Metra commuter rail service into the county from its current terminus in downtown Aurora.

The candidates in the June 28 party primary election, also voiced differing opinions when asked if they would support the county joining the Regional Transportation Authority as a condition for obtaining Metra service.

The Record Newspapers posed the Metra and RTA questions to the candidates on a recent questionnaire. (Complete questionnaires for District 1 County Board candidates can be viewed here, while District 2 candidates can be viewed here.)

The candidates’ responses to our Metra and RTA questions are listed here:

District 1 Kendall County Board candidates

Ruben Rodriguez (R)

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 three hours. 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 two years due to COVID-19. 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 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.

Seth Wormley (R)

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

I am interested in the conversation and how it would impact the community. I am not in favor of the RTA tax burden it would place on the residents in the county.

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

No. This is a necessary evil of the Metra extension.

Brian DeBolt (R)

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

I would support Metra commuter only if the Federal government and state would support it financially. I would not support it if the taxpayers had to pay for it through taxation. It should be supported by the people who use it and the government transportation policies.

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

Yes, but not if it is going to impact our county taxpayers.

Scott Gengler (R)

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

The Metra rail service is an idea that I am willing to discuss. If we can provide this service without raising taxes I would be a proponent of the commuter rail service. Since the pandemic, the amount of people who commute to the eastern suburbs and the city of Chicago has diminished. Corporations are moving to employees working from home and many employees like having the flexibility to use video conferencing while working remotely. If the need and discussion resurfaces, I am willing to entertain the idea, but there are other infrastructure needs that I feel require our attention, such as high quality internet to all of the residents of Kendall County.

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

If the residents of Kendall County are interested in adding commuter rail service to the county and if we are able to find a revenue stream so that the residents are not additionally taxed for the service I would be in support of joining the RTA.

Malanda Griffin (D)

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

I would support bringing Metra commuter rail service to Kendall County once a referendum was passed to confirm this is an effort wanted by the citizens of Kendall County.

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

From my constituents there isn’t a major need for RTA.

District 2 Kendall County Board candidates

Brian LeClercq (R)

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

While serving as Oswego village president, I had the privilege of working with the county and other local government agencies to bring Kendall Area Transit to our communities. It has been a great resource. In order to secure Metra, we would need to join the RTA. That involves an additional 0.75% sales tax and should be put to the taxpayers for consideration through a referendum.

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

This should be put as a referendum to ask the voters if they want a 0.75% sales tax increase to further public transportation options. We started KAT as a basic public service to meet our community’s needs. This includes rides for seniors to much-needed medical appointments or the senior center. Moving beyond that should be put to the taxpayers for consideration.

Dan Koukol (R)

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

We cannot ignore it by all means, but the RTA tax that must go with Metra can be mapped. For example, someone that lives in the Minooka part of Kendall should not have to pay a tax for Metra. ... never use it. Maybe a senior exemption on the tax, as well.

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

The RTA tax has the ability to be mapped. (carve out an area) where it will be most utilized. Not all of Kendall should be ever asked to pay this tax. This project also needs $300-plus million on the local share to make it happen. I realize many developers sold our area on the idea this was gonna happen a lot sooner. It’s not. It’s on the books, but not funded.

Matt Kellogg (R)

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

No. I do not believe that the residents should pay the burden of the RTA tax so that a small number of residents can utilize Metra. This project has a price tag in the hundreds of million dollars that should be used for local roads and improved infrastructure, projects that would bring business to Kendall County and help traffic safety issues. Fix Wolf’s Crossing, complete the connection between Ridge and Eola roads, widen and resurface Route 126. ... The list is long.

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

No.

Gabriella Shanahan (R)

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

Kendall County is the fastest-growing county in the state. If this trend continues, there will be a need for a commuter rail service for the county. If we want to continue to see pro-growth trends and attract families to the county, we need to continue to keep pace with other suburbs’ amenities like rail services.

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

Many options have been discussed and the General Assembly has allocated $100 million, which the RTA has withheld. We need to look at all options before any commitments are made.

Diane Selmer (R)

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

Substantial amounts of money have been spent on studies by local, municipal and county officials, it’s time to send a referendum to the voters to see if a majority of them would utilize the Metra on a daily basis.

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

Since it is another tax prior to receiving a service, this is a personal matter to be considered by all of our residents, and needs to go to referendum for a resolution.

Donna Sawicki (R)

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

Based on the studies already done, I would consider bringing Metra as far as Yorkville. The studies didn’t show a significant ridership for Plano and Sandwich. However, I would also want the public’s input and also be interested in knowing how the pandemic and increase in remote jobs would now impact the need and those riderships currently and into the future.

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

If we were to bring Metra service to Kendall County, then I think it would be very beneficial to join the RTA rather than taking on that burden of cost and maintenance alone.

Zach Bachman (D)

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

Yes, I would love to see an extension of Metra into Kendall County. Providing easier access to public transport helps decongest roads and parking, will give people more choices in how they choose to commute and helps us combat pollution.

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

Rather than joining RTA, I would be in favor of seeking opportunities to collaborate with RTA that do not involve a tax increase for our residents.

Brooke Shanley (D)

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

I fully support efforts to bring Metra commuter rail service to Kendall County. Many of the county’s residents find themselves commuting to a train station in other counties in order to even begin their commute into Chicago or other neighboring stops. By bringing Metra commuter rail service to Kendall County, our residents would have a better experience in their commute, either to work or into Chicago to enjoy a day with their families. Additionally, it would result in shorter commute times, giving our residents more time to enjoy time with family and friends.

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

I would support the county joining the Regional Transit Authority. Railways require maintenance every single day of every year. Joining the RTA is an investment that would ensure a safe, reliable, and affordable commuter rail system for the residents of Kendall County.