Election 2024 Questionnaire: Jamal Williams, Kendall County Board District 1

Election 2024
Plano Alderman Jamal Williams is encouraging residents to enjoy Plano's second annual Juneteenth celebration on Father's Day. (Mark Foster -- mfoster@shawmedia.com)

Jamal Williams, a candidate for Kendall County Board District 1 in the March primary election, answered these questions from the Shaw Local News Network.

Full Name: Jamal Williams

What office are you seeking? Kendall County Board (District #1)

What public offices, if any, have you previously held? Ward 2 Alderman City of Plano, Illinois; Merrit Board

(Kendall County Merit Board)

City: Plano

Occupation: Respiratory Therapist

Campaign website: www.jamalwilliams4kcb.com

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

Addressing the challenges posed by an increasing influx of migrants to Illinois requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses social, economic, and policy solutions. Here are several strategies that could be considered:

Integration Programs: Implement integration programs that provide support for migrants to learn English, understand local laws, and access essential services like healthcare and education. These programs can help newcomers navigate their new environment and become productive members of society.

Job Training and Placement: Offer job training and placement services to help migrants find employment opportunities that match their skills and qualifications. This could involve partnerships with local businesses and organizations to create job opportunities and internships specifically tailored for migrants.

Affordable Housing Initiatives: Develop affordable housing initiatives to ensure that migrants have access to safe and affordable housing options. This could involve incentives for developers to build affordable housing units or subsidies to help migrants afford rent in high-cost areas.

Community Engagement: Foster community engagement and dialogue between migrants and existing residents to promote understanding and cooperation. This could include cultural exchange events, community forums, and outreach programs aimed at building bridges between different communities.

Access to Healthcare: Ensure that migrants have access to healthcare services by expanding access to clinics, hospitals, and preventative care programs. This could involve providing information about existing healthcare resources and implementing policies to remove barriers to healthcare access for migrants.

Legal Assistance: Provide legal assistance to migrants to help them navigate the immigration process, understand their rights, and access legal representation if needed. This could involve partnering with legal aid organizations and pro bono lawyers to provide free or low-cost legal services to migrants.

Education and Awareness Campaigns: Launch education and awareness campaigns to combat discrimination and xenophobia towards migrants. This could involve public service announcements, cultural sensitivity training for law enforcement and service providers, and initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion in schools and workplaces.

Policy Advocacy: Advocate for policies at the state and federal levels that support migrants’ rights and address the root causes of migration, such as poverty, violence, and persecution in migrants’ home countries. This could involve lobbying lawmakers, participating in advocacy campaigns, and supporting organizations that work on migrant rights issues.

By implementing these strategies in a coordinated and holistic manner, not only Kendall but other Illinois counties can better address the challenges posed by increasing migration and create more inclusive and welcoming communities for all residents.

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

Infrastructure: Aging infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and public transportation systems, can be a significant issue for many counties. Investing in infrastructure maintenance and upgrades can help address this issue, improving safety, efficiency, and quality of life for residents.

Economic Development: Stimulating economic growth and creating job opportunities are often top priorities for counties. This can be achieved through initiatives such as attracting businesses, supporting entrepreneurship, and investing in workforce development programs.

Affordable Housing: The lack of affordable housing is a pressing issue in many counties, leading to homelessness and housing instability for residents. Addressing this issue may involve implementing affordable housing initiatives, zoning reforms, and incentives for developers to build affordable housing units.

Public Safety: Ensuring public safety is paramount for any county. This can involve adequately funding law enforcement agencies, investing in crime prevention programs, and promoting community policing efforts to build trust between law enforcement and residents.

Healthcare Access: Access to healthcare services, including mental health and substance abuse treatment, is critical for the well-being of county residents. Addressing healthcare disparities may involve expanding access to clinics and healthcare facilities, increasing funding for healthcare programs, and promoting public health initiatives.

Education: Providing quality education for residents, from early childhood through higher education, is essential for individual success and economic growth. Counties can address education issues by investing in schools, supporting teacher training programs, and implementing initiatives to close achievement gaps.

Environmental Sustainability: Protecting the environment and addressing climate change are increasingly important issues for counties. This can involve implementing renewable energy initiatives, promoting recycling and waste reduction programs, and investing in green infrastructure projects.

Social Services: Providing support for vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, and individuals experiencing homelessness, is crucial for ensuring a thriving community. Counties can address social service needs by funding social service agencies, expanding access to social welfare programs, and partnering with community organizations.

Addressing these issues requires collaboration and coordination among government agencies, community organizations, and residents. By prioritizing these issues and implementing targeted solutions, counties can work towards building healthier, safer, and more prosperous communities for all residents

Should counties do more to expand access to county government?

Yes, expanding access to county government is crucial for promoting transparency, accountability, and civic engagement. Here are some ways counties can enhance access to their government:

1. **Digital Platforms**: Counties can invest in user-friendly websites and online portals that provide easy access to government services, information, and resources. This includes features such as online forms, searchable databases, and live streaming of public meetings.

2. **Public Meetings**: Counties should hold public meetings at convenient times and locations to encourage community participation. Additionally, providing options for virtual participation through video conferencing or live streaming can further expand access to these meetings.

3. **Language Accessibility**: Counties should provide information and services in multiple languages to accommodate residents with limited English proficiency. This can include translating important documents, offering interpretation services at public meetings, and providing bilingual staff members.

4. **Community Outreach**: Counties can conduct outreach efforts to engage underserved communities and ensure their voices are heard in the decision-making process. This may involve hosting community forums, conducting surveys, and partnering with community-based organizations to reach marginalized populations.

5. **Open Data Initiatives**: Counties can implement open data initiatives to make government data more accessible and usable for the public. By publishing datasets online in a machine-readable format, counties empower residents, journalists, and researchers to analyze and utilize government information.

6. **Public Records Requests**: Counties should have clear procedures in place for handling public records requests and should strive to fulfill these requests in a timely manner. Providing online access to commonly requested records can streamline this process and make it more efficient for residents.

7. **Citizen Advisory Boards**: Counties can establish citizen advisory boards or committees to provide input on key issues and policies. These boards can serve as a mechanism for residents to directly engage with county government and provide valuable perspectives and feedback.

8. **Education and Training**: Counties can offer educational programs and workshops to help residents better understand how local government functions and how they can participate in the decision-making process. This includes civics education initiatives targeted at students and adults alike.

By implementing these strategies, counties can enhance access to their government and foster greater civic engagement and participation among residents. This not only strengthens democracy at the local level but also leads to more responsive and accountable governance.

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

Kendall County, like many other regions, may face several challenges in attracting business and tourism. Some of these challenges may include:

Location: If Kendall County is not located near major transportation hubs, such as airports or interstates, it may face difficulties attracting businesses and tourists who prioritize accessibility and convenience.

Competition: Nearby counties or regions may offer similar attractions or business opportunities, creating competition for business and tourism dollars. Kendall County must differentiate itself and highlight its unique offerings to stand out.

Infrastructure: Insufficient infrastructure, such as transportation networks, utilities, and broadband internet access, can hinder economic development and tourism growth. Improving infrastructure can make Kendall County more attractive to businesses and visitors alike.

Perception: Negative perceptions or lack of awareness about Kendall County’s offerings may deter potential businesses and tourists. Effective marketing and branding efforts can help improve perceptions and showcase the county’s strengths.

Regulatory Environment: Excessive regulations or bureaucratic hurdles can discourage businesses from establishing operations in Kendall County. Streamlining permitting processes and providing business-friendly policies can attract investment and stimulate economic growth.

Workforce Development: A shortage of skilled labor or limited access to workforce development programs can hinder business expansion and growth in Kendall County. Investing in education and training initiatives can help develop a skilled workforce that meets the needs of local businesses.

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

Business Incubator Programs: Establishing business incubator programs to provide resources, mentorship, and affordable workspace for startups and small businesses can foster entrepreneurship and innovation in Kendall County.

Streamlined Permitting Process: Simplifying and expediting the permitting process for businesses can reduce administrative burdens and encourage investment in the county. This includes creating a one-stop-shop for permitting and providing assistance to navigate regulatory requirements.

Small Business Grants and Loans: Offering grants, low-interest loans, or tax incentives to small businesses can provide critical financial support to help them start or expand operations in Kendall County.

Local Procurement Policies: Implementing local procurement policies that prioritize purchasing goods and services from Kendall County-based businesses can stimulate economic activity and support local entrepreneurs.

Workforce Development Initiatives: Collaborating with educational institutions and workforce development agencies to create training programs tailored to the needs of local businesses can ensure a skilled workforce pipeline and address labor shortages in key industries.

Business Networking Events: Hosting networking events, workshops, and seminars for local businesses to connect with each other, share best practices, and access resources can facilitate collaboration and growth opportunities.

Infrastructure Investments: Investing in infrastructure improvements, such as roads, utilities, and broadband internet, can enhance the business environment in Kendall County and attract new businesses seeking modern amenities.

Tourism Promotion: Promoting Kendall County’s unique attractions, events, and natural beauty to tourists can boost revenue for local businesses in the hospitality, retail, and service sectors.

Support for Downtown Revitalization: Supporting downtown revitalization efforts through façade improvement grants, streetscape enhancements, and marketing campaigns can create vibrant commercial districts that attract residents and visitors alike.

Business Retention and Expansion Programs: Implementing programs to support existing businesses, such as providing technical assistance, marketing support, and access to capital, can encourage retention and expansion within Kendall County.

By advocating for these initiatives and collaborating with stakeholders across the public and private sectors, I would strive to create a business-friendly environment in Kendall County that fosters entrepreneurship, drives economic growth, and enhances the overall quality of life for residents.

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

No, in my opinion I feel this would open the door for negative criticism from the community and give the impression that unfair practices may be in action.

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

Yes, I feel that these are difficult times and there will always be an element of society that looks for the opportunity to prey and/or take advantage of others. As a member of the Kendall County Sherrif Merit board and Alderman I am privilege and grateful to have meaningful conversation with law enforcement personnel. Through those conversations I am confident that they are taking productive and positive steps everyday to make our community safe.

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

Identifying road and bridge projects that should be prioritized depends on various factors such as traffic congestion, safety concerns, economic development opportunities, and infrastructure conditions. Here are some potential projects that could be considered priorities for the county:

Intersection Improvements: Identifying and upgrading intersections with high traffic volumes or accident rates can improve traffic flow and enhance safety. This may involve adding turn lanes, installing traffic signals, or implementing roundabouts.

Road Widening Projects: Widening narrow roads to accommodate increasing traffic volumes can alleviate congestion and improve travel times. Priority should be given to roads that serve as major commuter routes or connect key destinations within the county.

Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement: Assessing and prioritizing the rehabilitation or replacement of aging bridges to ensure they remain safe and functional. This may involve addressing structural deficiencies, improving load capacities, or enhancing flood resilience.

Intersection and Roadway Lighting: Installing or upgrading intersection and roadway lighting can improve visibility and safety, particularly during nighttime hours. Priority should be given to areas with high pedestrian activity or limited visibility conditions.

Pavement Rehabilitation and Maintenance: Implementing a proactive pavement maintenance program to repair potholes, seal cracks, and resurface deteriorating roads can extend the lifespan of existing infrastructure and minimize costly repairs in the long run.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure: Enhancing pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and multi-use paths, can promote active transportation and improve connectivity within the county. Priority should be given to areas with high pedestrian and cyclist volumes or safety concerns.

Public Transit Enhancements: Investing in public transit enhancements, such as bus shelters, transit hubs, or park-and-ride facilities, can improve accessibility and mobility options for residents. Priority should be given to areas with limited transit service or high demand for alternative transportation modes.

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS): Implementing ITS technologies, such as traffic signal synchronization, dynamic message signs, and traffic monitoring cameras, can optimize traffic flow and provide real-time information to motorists. Priority should be given to corridors with recurring congestion or traffic bottlenecks.

Prioritizing these road and bridge projects should involve collaboration between county officials, transportation agencies, engineering experts, and community stakeholders to ensure that limited resources are allocated effectively to address the most pressing needs and deliver maximum benefits to residents and businesses in Kendall County.

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

Yes I do, we are living in tough times. I for one am tired of hearing of school shootings and increased gun violence in and around our community. Something must be done to keep our children and most vulnerable safe and protected. Now if you are a responsible gun owner then understand this is not intended to regulate you. In my opinion it will aid others to be able to better protect our community and residents.

What is your opinion of the role of tax incentives in economic development and business growth?

Tax incentives can play a significant role in stimulating economic development and fostering business growth, but their effectiveness depends on various factors. Here are some key points to consider:

Encouraging Investment: Tax incentives can motivate businesses to invest in certain areas or industries by reducing their tax burden. This can lead to increased capital expenditure, job creation, and overall economic activity.

Competitiveness: In a global economy, jurisdictions often compete with each other to attract businesses. Tax incentives can make a location more attractive compared to others, encouraging businesses to establish or expand operations there.

Targeted Development: Governments can use tax incentives strategically to target specific sectors or regions for development. For example, offering tax breaks for research and development activities can spur innovation, while incentives for investment in economically disadvantaged areas can promote regional growth and reduce inequalities.

Risk of Revenue Loss: While tax incentives can stimulate growth, they also pose a risk of revenue loss for governments. If not carefully designed and monitored, they can erode the tax base and undermine public finances, potentially leading to budget deficits or cuts in essential services.

Fairness and Transparency: There’s often debate about the fairness and transparency of tax incentives. Critics argue that they can favor certain businesses or industries over others, leading to market distortions and unfair competition. Moreover, the administration of tax incentives should be transparent to ensure accountability and prevent abuse.

Long-Term Impact: It’s essential to assess the long-term impact of tax incentives beyond short-term gains. While they may stimulate immediate investment and growth, their sustainability and overall contribution to economic development should be evaluated over time.

In conclusion, tax incentives can be a valuable tool for promoting economic development and business growth when implemented thoughtfully and in conjunction with other policies. However, they should be part of a broader strategy that considers factors such as fairness, transparency, and long-term sustainability

Should tax incentives be offered to corporations to entice them to plant roots in local communities? Why or why not?

Yes, as I feel tax incentives can be a useful tool for attracting corporations to local communities, but they should be implemented thoughtfully, transparently, and as part of a broader economic development strategy.

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?

Access to affordable healthcare is indeed a significant issue for many individuals and communities around the world. Here’s why:

Financial Barriers: Healthcare costs, including insurance premiums, deductibles, copayments, and out-of-pocket expenses, can be prohibitively high for many people, especially those with low incomes or without adequate insurance coverage.

Health Disparities: Limited access to affordable healthcare exacerbates health disparities, as marginalized and vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected. This can lead to disparities in health outcomes and perpetuate inequalities.

Preventive Care Neglect: When healthcare is unaffordable, individuals may forgo preventive care and early interventions, leading to the progression of diseases, higher healthcare costs in the long run, and poorer health outcomes.

Financial Hardship: Medical bills and healthcare expenses can cause financial hardship and even bankruptcy for individuals and families, particularly those facing unexpected medical emergencies or chronic health conditions.

To remedy the issue of access to affordable healthcare, several ideas and approaches can be considered:

Universal Healthcare Coverage: Implementing a universal healthcare system that provides coverage to all residents, regardless of their ability to pay, can ensure that everyone has access to essential healthcare services without facing financial barriers.

Healthcare Price Regulation: Regulating healthcare prices, including those for medical procedures, prescription drugs, and health insurance premiums, can help control costs and make healthcare more affordable for individuals and families.

Expansion of Public Programs: Expanding existing public healthcare programs, such as Medicaid or Medicare, to cover more people and provide comprehensive benefits can improve access to healthcare for vulnerable populations.

Subsidies and Financial Assistance: Providing subsidies, tax credits, or other forms of financial assistance to individuals and families with low incomes can help offset the cost of healthcare and make coverage more affordable.

Investment in Preventive Care and Public Health: Prioritizing preventive care, public health initiatives, and community-based healthcare services can help reduce healthcare costs in the long term by preventing the onset of diseases and addressing health issues before they become more severe and costly to treat.

Promotion of Competition and Transparency: Promoting competition among healthcare providers and insurers, as well as increasing transparency in healthcare pricing and quality, can help drive down costs and improve affordability.

Overall, addressing the issue of access to affordable healthcare requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the root causes of healthcare costs, expands coverage to vulnerable populations, and prioritizes preventive care and public health initiatives.