Election 2024 Questionnaire: Donald Jensen, La Salle County Board Chairman

Election 2024
La Salle County Board Chairman Don Jensen (R-Deer Park),  meets with the board on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022 at the La Salle County Government Complex in Ottawa.

Donald Jensen, a candidate for La Salle County Board Chairman in the March primary election, answered these questions from the Shaw Local News Network.

Full Name: Donald E. Jensen

What office are you seeking? LaSalle County Board Chairman

What public offices, if any, have you previously held? Deer Park CCSD board member and LaSalle County Board Chairman

City: Ottawa

Occupation: Retired

Campaign website: None

Considering the increasing influx of migrants to Illinois, how do you propose the county should address the challenges?

Due to poor public policy here in Illinois of giving the impression that we are a “sanctuary state” and the failure of the current President and his administration to enforce our current immigration laws by allowing illegal migrants to invade our country unimpeded and unvetted, we are being asked to solve this problem locally. We shouldn’t have to solve this problem and yet we are being asked to accept monies from the State and Federal governments to take these illegal migrants in and feed them, shelter them and make them feel at home even though we don’t know why they have come here. A lot of debt is being foisted upon Americans to fund these failed policies of not enforcing our borders and our current immigration laws. A debt our grandchildren and great grandchildren will end up paying.

We passed a “non-sanctuary” ordinance regarding the illegal migrant situation here in LaSalle County just recently and we should follow through with the idea that legal immigrants having gone or going through the legal process of becoming naturalized citizens are welcome and illegal migrants are not. It should not be the responsibility of our taxpayers to pay for the influx of illegal migrants with local taxes, State taxes or Federal taxes. Without borders we cannot be a country. Are we to be citizens of the World with no country borders or citizens of the United States of America?

What are the top issues facing your county and what would you like to do to address those issues?

There are many issues facing the county like the rest of the nation. Issues such as homelessness and mental healthcare access are of note in the past few years, but my main concern lies with the taxes that burden our citizens. Government’s responsibility is to fashion public policy to promote the general welfare not to provide for it. All the ills of society cannot be solved merely by throwing money at them. Inflation, a form of taxes, has gotten out of hand due to the poor public policy of excessive spending on the Federal and State level during the pandemic and after it. If the economic conditions present the opportunity to pay down our debt obligation, relieving the taxpayers of some of the burden here in LaSalle County, we should seize the chance to do so.

Should counties do more to expand access to county government?

That depends on what one sees as expansion of access! I’ve not heard of any complaints that there needs to be a revamping of services or access by which citizens are served by our county offices. Much talk is being heard about the use of AI (artificial intelligence) and how it may enhance services available to our citizens, but we still need the personal touch to make sure the question is answered. I have heard of minor issues with our phone system menu, but we are currently looking into that issue to see if it needs to be simplified for easier accessibility to our county services.

What challenges is the region facing in terms of attracting business and tourism?

LaSalle County currently manages the pillow tax the County receives by our Tourism Committee to promote local businesses and various events that occur here throughout the year. This promotes tourism in the County by inviting people to experience the delights of the many restaurants and businesses plus the natural beauty in our parks here in LaSalle County.

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

As mentioned in the previous question on tourism, the County currently promotes tourism which helps the local businesses. There are many social media vehicles that businesses can use to promote and boost their exposure to the prospective customers that exist in the world of the internet.

Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?

In the interest of transparency on how taxes are being spent by county government, there should be no reason why county employees or elected officials should be entering into a non-disclosure agreement with private businesses.

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

I believe crime is increasing locally but what is of critical importance is how the law is or will be enforced here in the County. That responsibility lies with the Sheriff’s department and the State’s Attorney’s office. We have here in LaSalle County a sheriff who takes his job seriously of enforcing the law and a State’s Attorney’s office willing to prosecute the offenders and incarcerate them appropriately. Just consequences for violating the law are necessary in our communities if public safety is important to its inhabitants otherwise crime levels will greatly increase, and we will no longer enjoy peaceful towns and neighborhoods.

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

There is currently bridge construction being done on the Red White and Blue bridge on East 12th road that should be finished this fall. The County Engineer and the Highway Department has a 6-year plan for road and bridge work that is based upon a regular inspection schedule that determines the work that will be needed soon in the County.

Do you support the Illinois gun ban? Why or why not?

Emphatically NO!!! I believe it is unconstitutional and an infringement upon our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. It is mainly an attempt to sidestep the recent Supreme Court Bruen decision to take another crack at controlling law-abiding citizens and not the criminal portion of our society who will pay no attention to the law anyway. There are already laws on the books that would make it harder to obtain a firearm by those who should not have them if they were enforced properly. If these gun-control laws worked, then why does Chicago have so many shootings and criminal activity. This gun ban is nothing more nor less than an attempt to control what was once legal activity turning it into an illegal activity albeit one that will be permitted by the State if one registers their firearms. So, how long will it be that the State no longer allows or permits this illegal activity and requests that all those permitted firearms to be turned into the authorities? Ahhhh, the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent!!!!!

What is your opinion of the role of tax incentives in economic development and business growth? Should tax incentives be offered to corporations to entice them to plant roots in local communities? Why or why not?

Oh, do you mean TIF (tax increment financing) districts? They have been used to benefit communities, but the concept has also been abused in years past. These tax incentives derived within the TIF districts should be used to develop the areas with infrastructure to draw businesses in to enhance job opportunities within the community. These tax incentives should be used judiciously to draw businesses in that are interested in becoming a part of our communities and not just a temporary tax advantage to avail themselves of and then move on to greener pastures. They should not be given a free ride but rather forced to have some skin in the game, so to speak. The goal should be to have them become an integral part of the fabric of our local communities that will benefit our citizens for a long time.

How would you classify the state of public health in your county? Do you believe access to affordable healthcare is an issue? Why or why not? If you believe it’s an issue, what ideas do you have to remedy it?

Of recent past we’ve seen two hospitals close that have serviced the citizens of this county and neighboring counties as well. It has diminished the resources available for the citizens on the west end of the county, but we will soon see an improvement in that situation with the reopening of the hospital complex in Peru this spring. I don’t believe that access to affordable healthcare is at the heart of this issue but rather a change in societal demographics that causes the needed healthcare services to become more expensive to provide by the hospitals to the local citizenry. Our society being free and mobile, healthcare providers can move to areas where they can achieve greater economic benefit for themselves and their families. Should government interfere with that social and economic model? I don’t believe it should as governmental intervention only tends to mediocritize that service it interferes with and will eventually lead to substandard services and not excellent healthcare service to which we have become accustomed.