GENEVA – While a dozen Kane County Board hopefuls and an incumbent sheriff attended a League of Women Voters of Central Kane County candidates forum Sept. 27, two board candidates and the sheriff’s challenger did not.
District 15 Republican candidate David Young, District 18 Democrat candidate Sam Walker and Sheriff Republican candidate Jeff Bodin did not attend the forum, which was held at the Geneva Public Library.
By the league’s rules, Democrat Scott Johansen, Republican Richard Willams and incumbent Democrat Sheriff Ron Hain were allowed to give two-minute presentations of their platforms for the Nov. 8 general election.
“My opponent has refused – consistently – to engage in any kind of public discussions,” Johansen said of his opponent in the race for District 15. “Nobody has gotten a public statement from him. … It’s important to know what I’m running against.”
Johansen said he supports term limits for elected officials.
“I will oppose tax levies,” Johansen said. “I oppose increasing gas taxes. I support initiatives to return all open spaces for their prairie status. Campton Township is currently allowing some of their employees to farm land, which prevents open space.”
Johansen said he also supports health care initiatives for women to seek medical care in Illinois and Kane County.
Johansen said he will advocate for increased budget scrutiny.
“I’m a manager. I’m a graduate of Northwestern University with an MBA,” Johansen said. “I am very good at budget analysis. I’ve created a business that was very successful. … I understand budgeting and analysis.”
Though he said he has heard from county board members that there is no room for cost reduction in the budget, Johansen said he found that “really hard to believe when I see this size of a budget.”
Williams, an attorney, said he and his wife first lived in Elburn, where he had a law practice, and then moved to the Mill Creek subdivision near Geneva. In 2007, he said he started a law practice in Geneva.
“I’ve been involved in many community and civic organizations over the years,” Williams said about seeking to represent District 18. “I am an elected official of the Kane County Regional Board of school trustees, the current president of the Between Friends Food Pantry of Sugar Grove and the past president and former board member of the Mill Creek Water Reclamation District.”
Williams said he believes his professional and civic experiences make him a highly qualified individual to serve on the county board.
“Our nation is facing an economic crisis. Inflation is at a 40-year high and the increased cost of living has taken a major toll on working families in Kane,” Williams said. “People are feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks. Presently, the Kane County Board is considering a tax increase at a time when county residents are being hit with skyrocketing costs.”
Williams said one board member has “cavalierly characterized the increase as the equivalent of a couple of the martinis and a tip.”
“I hear the residents in my district loud and clear that the answer to our budget problems is not to raise taxes, but for the county to live within its means,” Williams said. “If elected, I will do my best to keep our taxes and unnecessary spending in check.”
Williams said the public also was facing problems connected with a new law that eliminates cash bail and increases police agencies’ costs.
Williams pledged to do his best to preserve the rural character of western Kane County.
Hain said this was his 28th year in law enforcement.
“I wanted to be a Kane County sheriff’s deputy since I was 4 years old,” Hain said. “Six years ago, I decided to run for sheriff.”
His plan was to help citizens who were marginalized and cut the jail population by a fourth.
“We’re going to save a heck of a lot of money and we’re going to prove that we can reduce crime by providing people with opportunities once they leave our jail,” Hain said.
“While we’re modernizing our police force and then – boom 2018 – I get elected and we have to face incredibly unprecedented times,” Hain said. “From the pandemic to civil unrest to police reform laws, which I wish we could get into deeper conversation about everything we’re going to do regarding the SAFE-T Act and our plan for the years going forward.”
Hain said through new programs, the correctional center reduced the opioid overdose deaths by 89% from those formerly incarcerated in the jail over the last four years.
The jail population has been reduced by half and reduced countywide crime by 16%, Hain said.
“By diverting these people from custody and being peacefully responsible and reinstituting the county’s electronic monitoring program that was defunded in 2018, we saved our taxpayers over $5 million,” Hain said.
“We’ve also used our budget to supplement other office’s budgets, which is not very often seen from an elected official,” Hain said. “We gave $1 million back for the FY22 budget to the county so they could help balance. We shared our funds with the state’s attorney’s office so they could accomplish goals that … they wanted to get done.”
Hain said when he came into the office, he inherited a budget that was $380,000 over budget. But every year since then, his budgets have been six figures under budget.