Janet Burson, Campton Hills Village Board of Trustees election questionnaire

Election 2024
Janet Burson, candidate for Campton Hills trustee, answers a question during a candidates’ forum hosted by the League of Women Voters at the Campton Hills Village Hall on Thursday, March 2, 2023.

Full Name: Janet Burson

What office are you seeking? Trustee

What is your political party? Our elections are non-partisan.

What is your current age? 62

Occupation and Employer: I am a business owner, including telecommunications, health care and manufacturing..

What offices, if any, have you previously held? None.

City: Village of Campton Hills

Campaign Website: Janet4Trustee.com

Education: BA - Music, North Park UniversityBiomedical Engineering Major - Northwestern Licensed Massage Therapist

National Board Certification - Myofascial and Trigger Point Therapy

Community involvement: CERT - Community Emergency Response Team

CASA - Court-appointed child advocate and guardian ad litem - former

Village of Campton Hills Community Relations Commission - former

Marital status/Immediate family: Married to Darrell Burson.

I have two children from a prior marriage.

Why are you running for office?

I am inspired by the quality and character of the incredible community we moved to in 2015, and I am committed to preserving its unique charm and beauty. Campton Hills is a true gem that deserves our utmost attention and care. In the past, many areas in Chicagoland resembled Campton Hills with multi-acre lots, animals, and a pleasant way of life.

While most of the Chicago area has given way to suburbanization, our community chose a different path. As a Trustee, I am dedicated to promoting a model that embraces our community’s character and respects individual property rights. Sadly, our incumbent Trustees and Village President have taken us in the wrong direction. They have not been faithful to the residents of Campton Hills.

With a vision fostering innovation and creativity, we can ensure that Campton Hills remains a special place for generations. We need a fresh start - three new Trustees and a new President that will restore that vision!

What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?

I have over forty years of business experience. I’ve managed larger budgets than ours. I’ve sat in bigger meetings with top-notch professionals. It’s not rocket science. I am willing to read the materials provided to our Trustees and can follow contract language and financial statements. I also learn well on my feet. I’m eager to do the work and confident I can serve effectively.

Our current Village government comprises people with a wide range of experience, some in government. Some of them have served since our village’s founding and first election. In recent years, their experience has provided less value. Some of our incumbent Trustees have been in office far too long. Some won’t even communicate with us. Some have a record that conflicts with the Village’s vision and residents’ desires.

Being good at this job requires constantly engaging the community and listening to our residents. Our Board exists to serve us, not the other way around. I’m confident that, along with new President Barb Wojnicki and the other new Trustees candidates, we will do a much better job serving our community!

What is your position on the Illinois weapons ban that took effect in January 2023?

Our Village’s limited mandate includes an excellent Police Department that helps keep Campton Hills one of the safest communities nationwide. As a Trustee, I would consider whether new legislation from Springfield imposes additional responsibilities on our Police Department. It is unclear whether this bill includes unfunded mandates like the Safe-T Act. I oppose any local taxes and am committed to listening to our Police Chief’s expert advice to make informed decisions.

Is crime a problem in your community and, if so, what would you do to curb it?

We are blessed to have a very safe community. We’re ranked the safest community in Illinois by Alarms.org and the 12th safest community in the United States by Safewise.com. Even better, I wouldn’t need to hear about that to know it is safe. You just know it. Our Police Chief reminds us frequently that the most proactive thing we can do as residents to protect ourselves from occasional robberies is to lock our cars and houses. We still have a rural feel, and our residents love it!

What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?

The Village of Campton Hills has no jurisdiction over public health, but it provided information about testing and vaccines for interested individuals. Mask requirements at local businesses fell under the jurisdiction of the Kane County Health Department. Locally, the relaxation of carry-out liquor restrictions was handled poorly, confusing local restaurants and residents. The Village President and Liquor Commissioner appeared to single out some of our most successful restaurant businesses over minor liquor violations. It seems that retaliation may continue in other ways. This is unfortunate and unnecessary in a community that united in so many ways.

What did you learn from the pandemic?

The pandemic has taught us some valuable lessons. We learned that unexpected events could happen anytime, so we should strive to be more prepared. Being prepared is a continuous discipline that requires constant attention. That is one of the reasons I volunteered for CERT. I’ve learned much about some of the challenges our first responders prepare for and how to prepare ourselves! I encourage everyone to consider it.

The pandemic has also shown us that different people respond differently to big challenges, but ultimately, we all come together and rise to the occasion. It’s essential to recognize that people have different approaches, and we must respect and support one another.

Overall, the pandemic has brought things we already knew into sharper relief, and we should use this experience to be better prepared, compassionate and tolerant in future events.

How would you spur economic development in your community?

First, there are fundamental questions about how much economic development residents want, and as a Trustee, I need to understand and respect the direction of our residents.

At first glance, it seems that a non-home rule municipality that collects no local taxes doesn’t benefit from economic development. The current President disbanded our Economic Development Commission and resisted forming a Chamber of Commerce. We also don’t have access to some standard development tools, such as TIF districts.

However, any business operated by a community resident brings money into it. That includes home-based businesses. The Village has recently passed onerous and unenforceable provisions that hobble home-based businesses. We should not unreasonably restrict any of our businesses, including home-based ones. A robust nuisance ordinance can address most challenges that might arise.

We also have the opportunity to reorganize our Village committees and commissions, making them more accountable to our elected representatives. This will help support responsible economic development while staying true to our rural heritage.

Would/can/should local governments do anything to help reduce the tax burden on residents?

We are fortunate to have a strong balance sheet and no local tax burden. Until the current administration, our Village focused on running lean and keeping expenses low. In addition, our road maintenance expenses may be larger than projected. We can control when this work is done and how projects are bundled and managed, seeking cost savings when possible.

It is equally important to plan for the future and ensure that we have secure sources of revenue to fund our police department and other Village expenses. We have no control over our primary revenue sources, including MFT, Road and Bridge Tax and LGDA distributions of income, sales, use and cannabis taxes.

I would not vote for a local tax. Instead, we should explore other options for revenue, such as grant funding, bringing in new households to the Village, and revenue-sharing arrangements. This proactive approach will help us maintain the financial stability of our community for years to come.

Do you support recreational marijuana being sold in your community to help lower residents’ tax burden?

Yes, but simply for the convenience of residents. I don’t see it providing additional revenue to our Village. But the more things residents leave the Village for, the more other things they spend on while they are out. The more we shop local, we shop local.

What projects or infrastructure would you look to address in your community and how would you do it?

The primary infrastructure priority of Campton Hills is road maintenance. The Campton Township Highway Department performs road maintenance and is paid for primarily by our share of the Motor Fuel Tax, the Road and Bridge Fund and various grants. This mechanism has worked well until recently.

Our agreement with the Township was renewed without incident from 2007 until current Village President Mike Tyrrell walked away from negotiations in 2022, leaving the Village with road maintenance services for over a month.

After decades of deferred maintenance, the Village has a comprehensive road maintenance plan for the next several years. Yet, we may need to resurface more miles of roads than we have planned to more quickly. There is no clear path to increasing our share of the Motor Fuel Tax or the Road and Bridge Tax. Additional road work may need to be funded by grants or our General Fund.

Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?


What is your position on open, transparent government?

Nothing is more critical in this race that restoring open, transparent government. I believe in government that communicates like it wants me to hear it - not a government that merely provides “notice,” constantly mis-files or hides information and makes us work to find it.

We are hoping to bring change and fresh faces to our Village government. That starts with transparency and open communication. Most recently, our Village did not use an open and transparent process during our community’s long and divisive battle over our new Zoning Ordinance.

There are technical reasons why the Village needed to pass a new ordinance. But unpopular provisions of that ordinance were pre-ordained by a few people with little recent community involvement. Presenting a finished product to us for “comment” is hardly open and transparent.

This is typical of the current Village administration. I am working to change it!

Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?

Yes. Legitimate FOIA requests should be honored fully in spirit and substance. In other municipalities, FOIA requests are seldom required because virtually everything from building permits to ordinances is posted. This is common sense. However, our current Village administration either doesn’t want us to know or is unable to post complete and accurate information for residents promptly.

I will also work to increase the information that is posted by the Village significantly. This would reduce FOIA requests and associated labor. Beyond this, our current Administration is a clerical disaster. Treasurer reports are missing; ordinances are published without attachments, and entire sections of documents have been mis-published. Our recent zoning ordinance passed a month ago still needs to be posted.

Would you sign a nondisclosure agreement with a prospective company that would limit your ability to communicate with your community?

In general, no, because it interferes with transparency to residents. However, circumstances may arise where certain aspects of documents provided by a company engaged by the Village might be confidential or privileged. This might not permit me to communicate fully with the public. But I would approach each engagement with a presumption of being open to residents.

For instance, the initial 2013 draft of the Camiros plan that was to lead to our new Zoning Ordinance was confidential and provided only to Board members and Village President. I don’t know if that was necessary then. By now, doesn’t the public has a right to know?