The Rock River Times Candidate profiles

The Rock River Times Candidate profiles

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

Rockford School Board #205, District D

Nancy Kalchbrenner, 46, is married with three children. She desires a more active role in the school district because “we are so focused on the court issues and the financial issues. We’re really not behaving proactively.”

She affirmed the focus should be on education and supporting teachers and staff, as well as engaging the community. Kalchbrenner believes it’s vital to end court control as quickly as possible.

In addition to being a substitute teacher, her community participation is with the Goldie Floberg Center, Winnebago Rockford Clean and Beautiful and the Sara Ingrassia Dictionary Fund.

District incumbent and school board Vice President Ted Biondo, 57, is married with two children. The four-year board member said, “I want to basically continue doing the things we’ve done so far.”

He is pleased the board has gotten the budget under control. Last year, the surplus was $6.7 million and as of June, the board shrunk the deficit to $13 million. For the future, he has his eye on attaining unitary status.

Biondo also noted the board has demonstrated its interest in education. “There’s a lot of learning going on,” he said. “Children who come into school to learn are doing just fine.” He stated the board has implemented phonics-based programs in some classes and acquired Internet access for all schools.

District E

Scott Carter, 50, is married with four children. He covets the District E spot because “we’ve got to raise student achievement. I want to do it in a couple different ways.” He would like an elementary school reading program to be implemented.

He alluded to the remedial reading program at Jefferson High School. “I want to expand that in all high schools. All the kids that need it will get it. If they can’t read, they can’t even get on a computer.” Carter also referred to the importance of economic stability and thinks the board is doing an overall good job, but overspending persists.

Carter serves on the Referendum Committee and Rockford Educating All Children (R.E.A.CH.).

Mark Burns, 45, is married with two children. He strives for the position because he feels the schools currently are the number one issue in the city. “First and foremost, we need to get back on stable ground,” he stated.

“The most important issue is that we’re improving the quality of education for everybody’s children. I think the perception of the public schools has been very negative for a long time.” He wants to support the administration and teachers in accomplishing their objectives and also hold them accountable.

Burns has worked as a banker for 22 years, and his involvement in the community is with RAMP; Rockford Affordable Housing Coalition; Fair Housing Board and YMCA’s Partners With Youth Camp.

District F

Jay Nellis, 55, is married with three children. He wants to occupy the District F seat because “the incumbent has failed the children and the taxpayers of this district. There has been no meaningful progress towards improving ordinances and education during her term.”

He said the school board perhaps has the lowest respect in the area. “There’s constant bickering and disrespect for each other and disrespect for the administrators.”

He cited it’s imperative to disperse more money for education. “I would definitely want to stop wasting money and lawyers and put our dollars in the classroom instead of the courtroom,” Nellis said. Nellis sat on the district’s Financial Planning Committee for the 1995 Strategic Plan, and he possesses more than 30 years of management experience.

Incumbent Patti Delugas, 49, is married with one son. She seeks the school board spot because “mainly I think my record of representing the people stands for itself.”

Responding to Nellis’ comments, she articulated that “I wish he would offer foundation. It’s easy to make charges. It’s tougher to back them up with facts.”

For her goals, she said, “I think there’s a lot of unfinished business.” She said she wants to use her “knowledge and experience to get education up and deficits down.” One item she wants to explore is returning weighted grades. “It puts our kids at a disadvantage when competing for scholarships and things like that.”

Delugas also yearns to get finances under control. “I think we’re underway,” she said. “We’re developing a plan.”

Rockford Township commissioner

Charles Jefferson (D), 55, is widowed with three sons. He wants to claim the commissioner seat because “I would like to restore respectability. I want to give people the best job I can give them for the money they spend. I want to make sure they’re getting their fair share.”

He said the first item on his agenda would be to open the lines of communication between the highway department and the supervisor’s department.

Jefferson cites his experience with the county board would benefit him in the endeavor. He chaired the Public Works Committee in the early 1990s for two years, which he believes gave him plenty of insight as to how public works operates. He also is the president of New Zion Day Care Center and of the Rockford Sportsman Golf Association, which helped to bring Tiger Woods here.

Pete MacKay (R), 67, is married with two children. He said “the reason I’m running for it is because I was asked to do it. Thinking about it, I realized it’s something that would fit me like my hand and my good glove.

“I feel very comfortable with my ability to do it. I’ve got years and years of experience dealing with public things as a county board member.”

He said he would focus on budgets and serving the taxpayer. MacKay said it’s “difficult to do on the county board these days because there’s no leadership.” He added it’s “ripping off the taxpayers on a daily basis.”

MacKay also owns MacKay Sign Co.

Rockford Township supervisor

Chris Johnson (R), 50, is married and has two stepchildren. He cited his reason for running is because as the present township clerk, he’s had four years of training with statutes, rules and regulations. He said he has obtained tremendous insight on demand and leadership qualities.

He has been restricted from being spokesman about financial issues. “It doesn’t need to be behind closed doors or secret.” Johnson would like to combine services. He noted that all agencies have intake clerks. “Why don’t we find a way to cooperate to save all these agencies by having an intake center?” he said.

Johnson also said he cares deeply about the community. “I was on the School Referendum Passage Committee in the early 1980s,” he stated.

Mickey Goral (D), 47, is married with two children. Having held a four-year term, he said, “I have a strong belief in township government.”

Goral believes most people aren’t even aware of township responsibilities, which encompass being responsible for roads and bridges in their jurisdiction; assessing real estate taxes for their taxing districts; and providing assistance to the poor and the indigent.

Goral stated that during his term, the township office was computerized. “That was a huge undertaking,” he said. “It enables us to work more efficiently on behalf of taxpayers and clients alike. We do a lot with very little money.”

He stated that if elected, he wants to keep taxes low and continue providing efficient service, remaining an innovative office.

Rockford Township clerk

Mike Hughes (D), 28, is single. He wants to embark upon the clerical position because “I believe the township government is closest to the people. What I think is lacking is the communication with the public. I’ll be out in the public and tell what the township is doing.”

Hughes is a member and past treasurer of 200 for 2000 , a group started by State Sen. Dick Durbin to encourage youth to vote and take a role in organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Toys for Tots. “I’m a founding member of that statewide,” he said. “We need more youth involved.”

Hughes said the commitment to that organization he possesses would transfer to the clerk position. “The thing I want to emphasize is if you can’t do the job, you shouldn’t run,” he stated.

Incumbent Diane Dal Pra (R), 57, is married with four children and three grandchildren. She is eager to assume the clerk position again because “I have a great deal of community involvement.”

“I feel I am capable. I have great communication skills. Over the years, working with the township, I have a strong knowledge of township business. I understand the state statutes. I feel very strongly that it needs someone who understands and has previous knowledge of township government.”

Dal Pra is involved in organizations including Catholic Women’s League, Illinois Foster Parents’ Association, Junior League, the CASA board and Winnebago County Republican Women.

Rockford Township trustees

Four individuals will be elected to fill the township board.

Guy Fiorenza (R), 73, is married with five children and 10 grandchildren. He believes he can add talents with his business experience as a trustee. He was born and raised in Rockford. On Feb. 20, he was appointed as commissioner after Patty Thayer took a seat on the Winnebago County Board.

Fiorenza has been a committeeman in Precinct 2 and is running for that position as well. His community involvement has entailed being president of Concerned Citizens of the Rockton/Halsted area; president of Independent Insurance Agents of Rockford; and regional vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois.

His further involvement has been as president of St. Ambrose Society; member of St. Peter’s Cathedral; regional past chairman for Festa Italiana; and director of Firemark’s Circle of America, an organization consisting of members who collect fire and insurance memorabilia.

Incumbent Ray Hodges, (R) 58, is married with four children and one grandchild. He became assessor in 1993.

He has been a licensed real estate broker since 1971. He served seven years on the Winnebago County Board of Review, hearing property assessment appeals. Hodges noted the township’s annual budget has averaged less than a 2 percent increase each year since 1994, and the township is on the road to saving taxpayers even more.

Hodges also possesses the Certification of Educational Qualifications from the State of Illinois Department of Revenue Local Government Services Bureau to be elected and to execute duties as required by the Section 2-45 of the Property Tax Code.

He also is a member of the International Association of Assessing Officials and the former president of the Northern Illinois Township Assessor’s Association, which includes Chicago’s collar counties

Louise “Luci” Hoover (R), 56, is married with two children. She is a paralegal with Hinshaw and Culbertson and often works with the assessor’s office.

“I do a lot of exemption work, a lot of real estate issues with various clients,” Hoover stated. She said she is familiar with the operations of the assessor’s office and how the money obtained creates a budget for the township.

“The township itself gets a percentage of the money that’s brought in from taxes. I’m running for the office because I feel that this is the most basic [office] of the township. I’d really like to stress the fact that you need to understand how those bill agencies operate if you’re going to be responsible for approving budgets and bills.”

Philip Nicolosi (R), 41, is single. He is thesenior board member. He seeks a township chair because “I am running to continue the good work that township government provides to the people of Rockford. Since ‘I’ve been on the board since 1991, we have provided much-needed assistance to those citizens that are qualified to receive general assistance.”

He also referred to services the elderly and disabled have received from a grant the board gave to Caravan. “There’s also all the township highways that we keep up. We gave gotten down administrative costs significantly in recent years. I would want to continue to increase the public confidence in township government. We’ve had some pretty serious problems with one township official.

“I just want the people to realize that township government is probably the most efficient and hands-on government there is. I think that when they look at the budget and overall expenditures, I think they have a lot of confidence.”

Jeff Polsean (D), 36, is married with three children. He was appointed to the township board in 1999, and said he wants to continue as trustee because “I think the major issue is maintaining a low tax rate for the town fund.” He said it’s also important to make sure that service is provided and to spend money on repairing roads, infrastructure and providing assistance to people in need.

He wants to implement a purchase order system. “It’s done in all forms of government and private business,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s not happening in all township government. It’s just one more bit of accountability that the trustees can rely on to make sure tax dollars are spent appropriately.”

Polsean’s involvement also includes being a board member of Promised Land Employment Service and Rockford Boys and Girls Club and serving as Winnebago County Public Safety commissioner for the sheriff’s department.

Genevieve Sjostrom (D), 56, is married and has three children and two grandchildren. She wants to embark upon the duty of township trustee because “I just really appreciate and love where I live, and I want to be a part of it … to be a contributing member of our community.”

As far as overseeing the budget, “I would definitely scrutinize that and make sure things are spent in a responsible manner.”

Sjostrom works in the Rockford School District and with social service agencies. She has worked with Youth Services Network. She has obtained several state and federal grants.

Greg Tuite (D), 45, is married with three children. He is after a township spot because “I was precinct committeeman 20 years ago. I have been a practicing attorney for 20 years. I think I’ve always been politically active when I was younger.”

He said now that his children are older, he has free time to step into politics. He noted the job of the trustee is being an auditor. “I basically run a small business. I’ve got 10 employees. I think just experience in running a business and being concerned with insurance, benefits, wages transfers over to that position.”

Many of his clients are township residents who are elderly and disabled and receive state and federal assistance while they wait to get Social Security benefits.

Tuite is a lawyer-adviser for the Boylan High School Mock Trial Team, which recently won the state championship and received a proclamation from City Council March 12.

Rockford Park District commissioner

Two individuals will be elected to fill the township board.

Charlotte Hackin has two sons. Hackin said there are three aspects would make her a good commissioner: She is community-minded, caring and committed.

She paints the picture of embracing “everything that has to do with children or programs that have to do with children. That’s kind of my specialty.”

She is in her eighth year serving on the board of Camaraderie Arts. The board’s programs are for children who live in the southwest in areas exposed to drugs and crime. Hackin is also a member of the League of Women Voters of Greater Rockford and just finished a six-year term on the Development Board for Crusader Clinic.

Harmon Mitchell, 63, is married with four children and three grandchildren. “I just thought the golfing community needs to be represented, and the southwest quadrant needs to be represented, and I thought I’d give it a shot.”

Mitchell has been Winnebago County Forest Preserve Executive District chairman; Severson Dells Advisory Council and Education Foundation chairman; Winnebago County Land Advisory Council member; and Rockford Township trustee.

He thinks the Park District and the Forest Preserve can work conjointly to save taxpayer money. While implementing projects, Mitchell noted it’s essential to balance recreationists’ and conservationists’ desires.

Dan Nicholas, 73, is married with four children. His interest in obtaining the seat is to bring financial responsibility. He seeks the commissioner spot because he has served on the Rockford Park District Foundation, which seeks out companies to donate to the park district, since 1994.

Nicholas said the foundation’s “goal is to invite the public and companies in the community to make gifts to the park district through the foundation … in the form of land, stock, cash, homes and so on.”

He’s also been a member of the Burpee Natural History Museum board; chairman of United Way; president of the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Council of 100.

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