Election 2024 Questionnaire: Michelle Mathia, La Salle County Board, District 13

Election 2024
An empty voter booth is vacant at the Knights of Columbus Hall during the Primary Election on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 in Ottawa.

Michelle Mathia, candidate for La Salle County Board District 13 in the March 2024 primary, answered these questions from Shaw Local News Network.

Full Name: Michelle L Mathia

What office are you seeking? LaSalle County Board Member, District 13

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

Experience: Most of my political experience has been behind the scenes. Since my teens I have volunteered for campaigns, both for candidates and for questions of policy. I have served as an election judge since I was 18 years old, both in Lake County and here in LaSalle County. I served as Constituent Representative for former Congressman Joe Walsh and later served on the Walsh Freedom Leadership team; and from 2013 to 2021, I was the Operations Manager for the Illinois Policy Institute in Chicago.

City: LaSalle

Occupation: Retired 2021 relocated to LaSalle/Peru; part-time associate Hobby Lobby Peru IL

Campaign website: None yet

In light of the increasing influx of migrants to Illinois, how do you propose the county should address the challenges? The Oxford dictionary defines migrant as a person who moves from one place to another, especially in order to find work or better living conditions. We are to presume the migrants are here legally, no questions asked. The truth is we don’t know if they are or are not. Putting that aside, I don’t think any community in LaSalle County is adequately prepared to take on an influx of migrants.

In the LaSalle/Peru area, of which I am most familiar, I don’t see a lot of jobs available for anyone. Housing is limited and the rental properties have increased where it is not considered affordable. With the loss of two hospitals in the past year, healthcare is not readily available. I’ll be honest, I don’t know the financial status of LaSalle County, but from what I can ascertain from observation, I see ‘pockets’ of upper middle class, but overall, I do not view LaSalle County wealthy enough to provide the financial means to sustain an influx of migrants.

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

Healthcare foremost. We need to be creative, working together with our elected officials in local, county and state representatives, to reopen the hospitals we had, and then, find a way to attract medical professionals to the area.

Should counties do more to expand access to county government?

I live close to the “seat” of LaSalle County Building. I believe no one has to drive more than one hour to visit the County offices for business.

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

Retaining young, educated workers and businesses that offer higher incomes.

Starved Rock is the main point of tourism and attracts almost 3 million tourists a year, we have several other beautiful parks to explore, i.e. Matthiessen State Park, Buffalo Rock State Park. Many communities with rich history, hold festivals and celebrations. I believe, as a whole, society is waking up from “Covid” and we will see more people attending and visiting our area. My research was limited to discover how much LaSalle County benefits from Starved Rock and other state parks in LaSalle County.

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

I currently feel LaSalle County Board does a good job. Could the county board do better? Yes. Knowing your district’s local (city, village) officials, knowing each community’s business plan, to include regulations, incentives, obstacles and outreach.

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

I am not sure I understand. Private business is private. As long as there is nothing illegal or nefarious why have an NDA.

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

The only “crime” I experience on a daily basis is people driving the speed limits, especially in school zones.

I have heard some talk about “a gang problem”. But more so, in speaking with young people (junior high age, high school and college age) there is not much for young people to do in most communities. My observation is community life revolves around sports and the arts, which are available. Affording these extra curriculars may be an obstacle for some families.

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

Local and county roads suffer from recurring pot holes, resurfacing, and painting road lanes.

Our roads our used heavily for semi-truck transport.

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

No, I do not. I am a firm believer that if one goes the distance to obtain a FOID card and conceal carry license, they are a responsible gun owner. Guns should be stored and locked away within one’s home. Guns don’t shoot people; people make the choice to use a gun and pull the trigger.

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?

TIF, as it is known, does help bring business development to areas, as well as home development. A serious vetting process of said business and developer must occur. i.e. History of their previous dealings; did they honor their agreement? Infrastructure must be adhered to, and the impact on residents must be considered. Transparency must be offered to residents as to the pros and con; I would even consider a vote approval from residents before any TIF development is considered.

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?

I see an elderly population, as well as a disabled population, that I have not experienced prior. Yes, affordable healthcare is an issue, it has been for a long time. It’s a complicated issue.

I was privileged to study the Affordable Health Care Act in its infancy. An American Health & Wellness Association/WELCOA member, I served as a Health and Wellness Program Director of 22 years.

My role was to read through and earmark keywords such as “tax” related to outside entities, i.e. real estate, that would be helping to fund “affordable health care”; basically, discover hidden costs. So, before our elected officials claimed “you can read the bill after it passes”, there was a large group of my peers, reading it. Healthcare has been an issue for many decades, the AHA has only added to it with all the regulations of administration required by the medical professionals.

Summed up best by Dr. Barbara Bellar: “We are going to be gifted with a health care plan that we are forced to purchase, and fined if we don’t,” Bellar continues, “signed by a president who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, by a government which has already bankrupted Social Security and Medicare, all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that’s broke.”

One option I had was Concierge doctors’ group. Which offer their services to patients directly in exchange for an upfront fee, usually paid monthly. They’re also called direct primary care (DPC) or personalized medical service providers. In recent years, concierge medicine has become more affordable. Concierge doctors offer personalized care and direct access. They’re often physicians who choose to form a private practice to limit the number of patients they’re responsible for and to minimize the amount of paperwork associated with insurance payouts.

• One of the most popular reasons to consider a concierge doctor is quicker access to your physician.

• Unlimited Primary Care Services

· Services you’d normally get in a primary care visit, like physicals and preventive screenings, are already covered by the fee you pay for concierge service, so you won’t have to cover costs for each individual visit.

• A More Personal Relationship with Your Primary Care Doctor: they ultimately get to know you better. Your doctor also gains a better understanding of your medical history, which could make it easier for them to detect issues.