Election 2024 Questionnaire: Joe Oscepinski, Jr., La Salle County Board Chairman

Election 2024
La Salle County Board member Joe Oscepinski comments on a resolution to declare La Salle County as a Non-Sanctuary County for the current flow of asylum seekers (immigrants) caused by the current border enforcement policies on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2023 at the La Salle County Government Complex in Ottawa.

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

Full Name: Joe Oscepinski, Jr.

What office are you seeking? La Salle County Board Chairman

What public offices, if any, have you previously held? La Salle County Board Member (11 years), Democrat Precinct Committeeman

City: Peru, IL

Occupation: UPS Dockman

Campaign website: https://www.facebook.com/joeforchairman

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

As a Democrat who supported the La Salle County non-sanctuary resolution, I approach the issue of addressing the increasing influx of migrants to Illinois with a commitment to both humanitarian principles and upholding the rule of law. It is crucial to acknowledge that while we must provide assistance to those in need, we must also ensure that our communities remain safe and secure.

In accordance with the La Salle County Emergency Management’s All-Hazards Plan, which I fully endorse, it is imperative that we prioritize the humane treatment of migrants while also abiding by lawful procedures. This means providing necessary humanitarian aid to migrants in accordance with the plan’s guidelines, including swift transportation to appropriate shelters outside of the county.

Moreover, my support for the non-sanctuary resolution underscores my belief in upholding the law. By adhering to lawful procedures and collaborating with relevant agencies, we can ensure that the influx of migrants is managed in a manner that respects both the dignity of individuals seeking refuge and the safety of our communities.

In conclusion, my approach to addressing the challenges posed by the increasing influx of migrants to Illinois is grounded in a commitment to humanitarian values and adherence to established protocols such as the La Salle County Emergency Management’s All-Hazards Plan, while also maintaining the integrity of our laws and community safety.

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

I recognize three pressing issues that demand our attention and proactive solutions.

1. Economic Development: One of the top priorities is fostering economic growth and development within our county. This includes attracting new businesses, supporting existing enterprises, and creating job opportunities for our residents. To address this issue, I propose implementing policies that incentivize investment, reduce regulatory burdens on businesses, and prioritize workforce development initiatives to ensure our residents have the skills needed for available jobs.

2. Infrastructure: Another critical issue facing our county is the state of our infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and public facilities. Investing in infrastructure upgrades and maintenance not only improves the quality of life for our residents but also enhances our county’s attractiveness for businesses and tourists. I advocate for strategic infrastructure investments, utilizing both state and federal funding, to address immediate needs and plan for future growth.

3. Public Safety: The safety and security of our residents are paramount. We must support our law enforcement agencies and first responders with adequate resources and training to effectively protect our communities. Additionally, addressing issues such as substance abuse and mental health requires a comprehensive approach that includes prevention, intervention, and access to treatment services.

In addressing these issues, I believe in a pragmatic and collaborative approach that prioritizes the needs of our community while staying true to our Democratic values of fairness, equity, and opportunity for all. By working together with stakeholders across party lines, we can make meaningful progress on these important issues and build a brighter future for our county.

Should counties do more to expand access to county government?

I believe that counties should prioritize expanding access to county government to ensure transparency, accountability, and inclusivity. It is essential for residents to have meaningful opportunities to engage with their local government and participate in decision-making processes.

To achieve this goal, counties should implement initiatives such as:

1. Community Engagement Programs: Counties can establish programs aimed at reaching out to diverse communities within the county. This can include town hall meetings, community forums, and outreach events held in various neighborhoods to solicit feedback and input from residents.

2. Enhanced Digital Access: In today’s digital age, it is crucial for counties to leverage technology to expand access to government services and information. This can involve developing user-friendly websites, online portals for submitting inquiries and complaints, and utilizing social media platforms to disseminate updates and engage with the public.

3. Civic Education and Outreach: La Salle County should invest in civic education initiatives to empower residents with the knowledge and skills needed to actively participate in local governance. This can involve hosting workshops, seminars, and educational campaigns on topics such as local government structure, civic rights and responsibilities, and how to effectively advocate for change.

By implementing these measures, counties can strengthen democratic principles, foster civic engagement, and ensure that government is responsive to the needs and concerns of all residents, regardless of background or affiliation.

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

While our region boasts attractions such as Starved Rock State Park, excellent dining options, and picturesque river towns, we still face challenges in attracting business and tourism. One prominent issue is infrastructure, particularly transportation access. Improving roads, bridges, and public transportation networks can enhance accessibility to our region, making it easier for tourists and businesses to visit and operate. Additionally, we need to invest in marketing and promotion efforts to raise awareness of our attractions and amenities. Collaborating with local businesses and organizations to develop tailored marketing campaigns can showcase the unique experiences our region offers, attracting more visitors and potential investors. Furthermore, addressing workforce development needs is crucial. Ensuring we have a skilled and trained workforce to support tourism and business sectors is essential for sustained growth. By addressing these challenges and capitalizing on our existing assets, we can foster economic development and tourism growth in our region.

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

As La Salle County Board Chairman, I would prioritize initiatives aimed at boosting local businesses by advocating for streamlined permitting processes, reducing regulatory burdens, and offering economic development incentives. By simplifying the process for obtaining permits and licenses, we can save businesses time and money, making our county a more attractive destination for investment and entrepreneurship. Additionally, providing targeted incentives such as tax breaks or grants for job creation and infrastructure investment can further incentivize businesses to establish and expand operations within our community. Moreover, I would support the expansion of business support services, such as mentoring programs and technical assistance, to provide resources and guidance to small businesses, helping them grow and thrive in our county’s economy. Through strategic collaboration with local institutions and investment in infrastructure, we can create a conducive environment for local businesses to succeed, driving economic growth and prosperity for all residents.

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

I believe that government employees and officials should generally not be allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) with private businesses. Transparency and accountability are fundamental principles of democratic governance, and allowing government employees to enter into NDAs could undermine these principles by shielding important information from the public.

Government employees and officials have a responsibility to serve the public interest and uphold the public trust. Signing NDAs with private businesses could create conflicts of interest or the perception of impropriety, as it may limit the ability of government officials to fully disclose relevant information to the public or other government entities.

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

I am concerned about the local crime problem, particularly the rise in drug-related offenses and violent crime in our community. Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach that prioritizes collaboration between law enforcement agencies, community organizations, and local residents.

First and foremost, I strongly support our county sheriff and law enforcement officials in their efforts to combat crime and keep our community safe. Providing law enforcement with the resources, training, and support they need is essential for effective crime prevention and response. Additionally, I believe in promoting community policing initiatives that foster trust and collaboration between law enforcement and residents, as community involvement is critical for identifying and addressing crime hotspots.

In addressing the root causes of crime, particularly drug-related offenses, I advocate for a comprehensive approach that includes prevention, treatment, and enforcement strategies. This involves investing in substance abuse prevention programs, expanding access to mental health and addiction treatment services, and implementing targeted enforcement efforts to disrupt drug trafficking networks.

Furthermore, addressing the rise in violent crime requires addressing underlying socioeconomic factors such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of educational opportunities. Investing in economic development initiatives, supporting job training programs, and promoting education and youth outreach programs can help address these root causes and reduce the incidence of violent crime in our community.

Overall, addressing the local crime problem requires a collaborative and proactive approach that involves law enforcement, community organizations, and residents working together towards common goals. By supporting our sheriff and implementing comprehensive strategies to address the root causes of crime, we can create a safer and more vibrant community for all residents.

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

I believe in prioritizing infrastructure projects that enhance public safety, support economic growth, and improve the quality of life for residents in our county. Some local road and bridge projects that should be considered a priority include:

1. Repair and Maintenance: Addressing deferred maintenance and repairing existing roads and bridges to ensure they are safe and reliable for motorists. This includes filling potholes, repairing pavement, and replacing worn-out infrastructure.

2. Bridge Rehabilitation: Prioritizing the rehabilitation of structurally deficient bridges to prevent closures and ensure the safety of commuters. This may involve strengthening bridge structures, replacing deteriorated components, and improving load capacity.

3. Safety Enhancements: Implementing safety enhancements such as installing guardrails, improving signage and pavement markings, and enhancing visibility at intersections to reduce accidents and improve road safety for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.

By prioritizing these road and bridge projects, we can address critical infrastructure needs, enhance public safety, and support economic growth and development in our county. I am committed to working collaboratively with local stakeholders to prioritize and fund these essential infrastructure projects for the benefit of our county.

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

I do not support the Illinois gun ban. While I am committed to addressing gun violence and ensuring public safety, I believe that a blanket ban on firearms is not the most effective solution. Instead, I advocate for comprehensive measures that address the root causes of gun violence while respecting the rights of law-abiding citizens.

I voted in favor of the unanimously passed county resolution opposing the gun ban last year because I believe it is important to uphold the Second Amendment rights of our citizens. I support measures such as universal background checks, closing loopholes in existing gun laws, and implementing common-sense gun safety measures to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others.

Furthermore, I believe in investing in mental health services, addressing socioeconomic disparities, and implementing violence prevention programs to reduce gun violence in our communities. By taking a multifaceted approach that balances public safety with individual rights, we can work towards meaningful solutions to address gun violence while upholding our constitutional freedoms.

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?

I believe tax incentives can play a strategic role in promoting economic development and fostering business growth in local communities. However, the use of tax incentives should be approached judiciously and with careful consideration of their long-term impact on the community.

Tax incentives can be a valuable tool for attracting corporations to plant roots in local communities by providing financial benefits that offset the costs of doing business, such as property taxes, income taxes, or sales taxes. By offering tax incentives, communities can incentivize job creation, capital investment, and economic activity, which can have positive ripple effects throughout the local economy.

That being said, tax incentives should be offered responsibly and with accountability measures in place to ensure that they deliver tangible benefits to the community. It’s important to carefully evaluate the potential return on investment of tax incentives and consider factors such as the number of jobs created, the quality of those jobs, and the overall impact on the local economy.

Additionally, tax incentives should be targeted towards industries or projects that align with the community’s economic development goals and priorities. This may include sectors such as manufacturing, technology, or renewable energy that have the potential to spur innovation, create sustainable jobs, and generate long-term economic growth.

Ultimately, while tax incentives can be a useful tool for attracting businesses and stimulating economic development, they should be used strategically and in conjunction with other policies and initiatives aimed at promoting inclusive growth, supporting small businesses, and investing in workforce development. By striking the right balance, we can harness the power of tax incentives to drive economic prosperity and opportunity for all residents in our communities.

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?

The closure of the Peru hospital last year underscored the critical need for accessible and affordable healthcare services in our community. Without a local hospital, many residents faced challenges in accessing essential medical care, especially those without reliable transportation or adequate insurance coverage. The closure highlighted existing disparities in healthcare access, particularly for vulnerable populations who may already face barriers to receiving timely and affordable care.

The acquisition of the Peru hospital by OSF HealthCare offers hope for addressing these challenges and improving healthcare access for our community. OSF’s commitment to providing compassionate, high-quality care aligns with the need to ensure that healthcare services are accessible and affordable for all residents. By reopening the hospital and expanding services, OSF has the potential to fill critical gaps in healthcare access and provide a lifeline for individuals and families in need of medical care.

Affordable healthcare access is not just a matter of convenience; it is a fundamental aspect of public health and well-being. Without affordable healthcare options, individuals may delay seeking care or forgo treatment altogether, leading to worsening health outcomes and increased healthcare costs in the long run. Ensuring that healthcare services are affordable and accessible is essential for promoting preventive care, managing chronic conditions, and addressing emerging health needs within our community.