Election 2024 Questionnaire: Zach Bachmann, Kendall County Board District 2

Election 2024
Highway Community Chairman Zach Bachmann speaks during the grand opening of the Eldamain Road bridge on May 31st 2023.

Full Name: Zach Bachmann

What office are you seeking? Kendall County Board

What public offices, if any, have you previously held? Kendall County Board

City: Montgomery

Occupation: Software Developer

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

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

The county is vigilant of this, and as a board member, we receive weekly updates on the status of migrants and how it may affect Kendall. In this process, we are coordinating with other local municipalities and governing bodies to ensure we are all sufficiently prepared should migrants start moving into our area. If they do, I believe supplying integration resources and community engagement will be key elements to our success. Ultimately, I have the utmost confidence in our preparedness and ability to adequately respond should we need to.

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

Insufficient internet access, property taxes, and transparency are the top issues Kendall County faces today. I’m proud to say that these have all been priorities of mine throughout my first term and that significant progress has been made. As Chairman of the Connect Kendall County Commission (CKCC) I have worked diligently to address the digital divide in our community, and under my leadership, the county is now in a position to be building a community-owned broadband network as soon as later this year. Lowering property taxes has been the goal of this board long before I was on it, and soon that may become a reality. Pending state legislation on forest preserves, we will have an opportunity to pursue property tax relief. As a local governing body, transparency on board decisions and appointments is vital to the relationship we have with our community. There has been progress in this regard, but I would like to see to county

have more town halls and public hearings, especially for some of our big upcoming projects, as they offer a unique chance for the public to engage and get questions answered outside of the confines of normal board meetings.

Should counties do more to expand access to county government?

Absolutely! Accessibility should be a priority for all governing bodies, especially local ones. We interface so directly with our communities, that it would only make sense for that equation to work both ways. It is my opinion that regularly engaging with the public and incorporating their feedback and guidance into policy decisions is fundamental to our success, and something we should do more to encourage.

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

The absence of broadband infrastructure in Kendall County is, in my view, the biggest inhibitor it has to attracting new businesses. Today, business operations are as reliant on internet services as they are on electricity, meaning that the availability of high-speed internet in an area is a key determining factor in that area’s eligibility for economic development. Further, as the ability to process large amounts of data continues to be an increasingly valuable tool for businesses, their need for higher-capacity networks will grow. The takeaway here is that the introduction of new, future-proof broadband services in the county is not just an opportunity to aid in the business development in our community, but a shot at quite literally engineering it. It is for that reason and many others that I am ecstatic about the progression of the Connect Kendall County initiative.

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

I believe the best thing county government can be for local businesses is a reliable resource, whether that be in the distribution of aid during times of strife or guiding in times of growth. Something I’d like to see the county do to help local businesses is a “Shop Local” campaign. Where we would use our social media and general county platform to regularly highlight small businesses throughout the county and what they have to offer. I feel this would be an excellent way to shine a light on our wonderful array of local businesses and bring much-needed exposure to some of our hidden gems.

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

No. Doing so would be a direct violation of public trust, erode transparency, and is unbecoming of public service.

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

I do not. Our sheriff’s office is always on top of things, and I believe through continued community-building efforts, crime will stay controlled in Kendall.

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

As your Highway Chairman, I am acutely familiar with our ongoing and future projects. I am personally really excited about everything in our highway department’s 5-year plan and would encourage residents to visit the county website to see what’s in store. While all of these projects are a priority, the Ridge Road expansion is something special. This expansion will provide much-needed refinement and modernization to a key corridor in the county. It is difficult to overstate just how impactful the completion of this project will be and how integral it is to future development plans for the county. I am looking forward to providing updates to you all as these projects progress.

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

I do. I am in favor of common sense gun control measures and believe that gun violence in America is a prominent issue in desperate need of resolution. It is well documented that in recent years firearms have killed more American children than anything else; More than drugs, more than car accidents, more than cancer. As Americans, we have annually experienced more mass shootings than days in a year for some time now, and it is clear to me that the accessibility of guns plays a substantial role in this never-ending violence. I was still pretty new to the board when Illinois passed the assault weapons ban, and I received a flood of emails sharing concerns, with some even pressing for me to oppose it. There was one that stuck out to me in particular, with a line that read, “My family and I are responsible gun owners, these laws should target that evil, not us.”

This resonated with me as a genuine statement of frustration that I can and do sympathize with, but I feel it misses the forest for the trees. The gun control status quo in the United States shows us time and time again that it is literally incapable of distinguishing between responsible gun owners and violent actors, and that if it is left as is, our omnipresent state of gun violence will be here to stay, with no sanctuary from its wrath. I believe the status quo must change. The Illinois gun ban will save lives, and that is why I support it and similar actions.

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?

In my experience leading Connect Kendall County, I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about the different ways that governing bodies can interact with and attract businesses. The way I look at it, a governing body has a wide array of tools at its disposal to spur economic development, with tax incentives being the tool employed most often. While it certainly has its benefits, it is my opinion that as public servants we can be more actively engaged and bring more creative solutions to the table. Instead of approaching a situation ready to deploy tax incentives, we could be asking: Are there permitting benefits we can provide? Can we give them access to dark fiber or larger network capacities? Will said business need to regularly interface with a public entity? If so, can we make that easier? Cheaper? At the end of the day, if tax incentives are the only thing that will get a business to budge, we need to know that the result will be mutually beneficial for the business and our community and doesn’t negatively impact other taxing bodies, especially school districts.

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 affordability of healthcare impacts all Americans and is an issue being further exacerbated by how expensive rent and essential goods currently are. The Kendall County Health Department is phenomenal and has a multitude of effective services and programs available to our residents. As a board, I feel we can do more to raise awareness of all that they have to offer and encourage residents to make use of them. If economic pressure continues to rise, we may need to take a serious look at how we can help alleviate that pressure by bringing about new services and programs.