WINNEBAGO COUNTY BOARD ENDORSEMENTS
WINNEBAGO COUNTY BOARD
Hello. Here are our candidates for Winnebago County Board. Several newcomers to the political arena are featured because our readers come to The Rock River Times for viewpoints, information and the truth that seems in short supply or rather well varnished in other outlets. Thank you for your readership, and the staff at The Rock River Times strongly urges you to vote or undervote on
November 2, 2010.
FOR MEMBERS OF THE COUNTY BOARD, DISTRICT ONE
(Vote for One)
– LYNNE A. STRATHMAN, REPUBLICAN
– WENDY SCHNEIDER, DEMOCRATIC
Wendy Schneider is a well-known name in these pages, primarily for her leadership in the fight against an ethanol plant by Wight Partners International, LLC. at 1951 S. Meridian Road in Winnebago Township.
She ran against Tom Owens in 2008 and was defeated. She’s paid her dues and knows how all sorts of dues are levied, added up and are utilized, since she has a M.B.A. from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree in Project Management from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
She has worked at Hamilton Sundstrand for 15 years. She is now a financial management and cost reduction expert and manages resource spending for the largest program in company history.
Since 2002, with farming in her family, Schneider has been a Farm Bureau member and supports local foods. She’s a past director of the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and volunteer for Junior Achievement. She and her husband, John, support many local non profit groups in District 1.
Randy Olson resigned as the representative from District 1 to take a job with the Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition (LEAC), the region’s law-enforcement helicopter agency, and Schneider’s opponent, Lynne Strathman, was appointed to fill the vacancy. Strathman has kept a low profile on the board, voting with the Republican establishment that appointed her. Strathman is a strong family woman and works to help the disadvantaged.
However, with all the conservation, sprawl and land use issues coming up, citizens need someone who is an educated leader and knows agriculture to protect the land and its quality for the future. Schneider will shine even brighter in and for that future. Vote for Wendy Schneider to be the Winnebago County Board member for District 1.
FOR MEMBERS OF THE COUNTY BOARD, DISTRICT 3
(Vote for one)
– GARY R. JURY, REPUBLICAN
– DOUGLAS R. AURAND, DEMOCRATIC
Gary Jury has been known as a very unpredictable man in the political circle. He’s a known commodity in the Republican back rooms, as is his opponent Aurand. Both are inside players. He is also a former county board member who lost his seat to Aurand. He and Aurand have been going at it for years.
Aurand said the last campaign against him was really dirty, and he wouldn’t run again. Let’s see, was that his last Harlem Township supervisor’s race, or his last county board race? Aurand has been the only successful double-office holder around. After 40 years, Aurand really knows the political game, including where the magic white envelopes come from for everybody. Aurand really tries to boss the other Democrats around.
On occasion, Aurand knows how to be graceful (which Jury has a little trouble with). After denying my free-speech attempt at a Winnebago County Forest Preserve District meeting, and after I addressed the full county board about the insulting cheap shot, he did apologize. The other two commissioners/county board members who voted with him to shut me up, Bob Hastings (D-13) and Tom Owens (R-1) never did.
I see all of these fellows as the main symptoms of why the system is broken. They are exclusionary good ‘ol boys whose self-interests come first, and they need to go to the retirement pasture to sprawl out. Their zoning doesn’t represent us. They just represent the special “development/jobs-before-God” interests that get to them. Their associations and moves that bring them power are “morally challenged.”
No endorsement. Use the undervote.
FOR MEMBERS OF THE COUNTY BOARD, DISTRICT FIVE
(Vote for One)
– KEVIN HORSTMAN, REPUBLICAN
– PAUL GORSKI, DEMOCRATIC
Paul Gorski represents not only his constituents very well, but he really considers every citizen in the county and beyond when working on an issue.
He has been the driving force against bad odors coming from either the Winnebago or Orchard Hills landfills, and he is pushing those facilities and the IEPA to respond.
His efforts were monumental in achieving the 2030 Winnebago County Land Resource Management Plan. The Kishwaukee River, one of three Class “A” rivers in the entire state, and Kilbuck Creek run through his district—he’s a watchdog for the environment. However, he was not the strong opponent of septic systems the watershed and aquifer needs.
The opposition party respects him, and the Winnebago County Board Chairman Christiansen wants to strangle him because Gorski is the closest thing to true opposition that Christiansen has. Actually, I think there are elements of dread and delight for both men with each other.
Gorski has been around the political block and has a very unusual ability to smell a rat. He picks things out of a budget that would slide by the inattentive. He has an amazing mind for detail and analysis. He is a real fiscal watchdog.
While he is a watchdog for the environment, he is not a lackey for those dealing “Green.” In the Oct. 14 meeting, he caught an increase in the rate the forest preserve gets from property taxes. Gorski, Steve Schultz and Frank Gambino took a look at it and questioned the increase. Gorski said the rate the preserve wanted was reduced with some exceptions. But the overall rate still increased. Gorski joined Strathman (R-1); Dave Yeske (R-2); Steve Schultz (R-2); Aurand (D-3); Bob Kinnison (R-10) and Rick Pollack (R-13) in voting against the budget. Everyone should thank every one of these folks.
As to the real rate for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve for fiscal year 2011, Steve Chapman told The Rock River Times, “We haven’t got that figured out yet.” What? More on that later in our endorsements for the new Forest Preserve candidates. What’s the deal there?
No deals for the taxpayer—a tax increase is a tax increase! The general budget went from 79 cents for every $100 of equalized assessed valuation to 81 cents, down from the 84.3-cent rate in the original budget proposal. When so many Democrats are accused of belonging to the “Tax and Spend” club, Gorski is a not a joiner.
His opponent, Kevin Horstman, has his supporters. His upbringing on a family farm and his involvement with credit unions speak well for him. He has lost two previous races as a township trustee candidate and against Pete MacKay. His website touts President Reagan. He also did some work for Cargill in Australia, which is a company that has quite a few negative connotations. He is also a licensed real estate agent, which presents too many potential conflicts of interests with land use or zoning issues.
Vote for Gorski. I’m glad he’s around.
FOR MEMBERS OF THE COUNTY BOARD, DISTRICT 8
(Vote for one)
– JOHN M. CABELLO – REPUBLICAN
– MELVIN PARIS – DEMOCRATIC
Very likeable and as someone who does his homework, Melvin Paris has been on the board long enough. Doing your homework doesn’t mean you passed the test. He certainly failed the environment during the Windfarm Ordinance debacle. During a Democratic caucus that was probably illegal because it was hearing new testimony, which then had to be presented to the even ruder Republican caucus, Paris said he noted that setbacks proposed for wind turbine were greater for wildlife/natural areas than for humans. That was a stretch because the behemoth turbines will ruin daily life for wildlife and humans alike. Supposedly, humans are smart enough to be stewards of natural lands and wildlife and stay away from turbines.
Cabello, as a police officer, has dealt with two-legged wildlife on a regular basis. That experience and his investigative skills will certainly help him in dealing with the incoming information from a wily administration, other board members and special interests. Cabello will also be a good offset for corrupt influences that could approach the new board.
He saw the wrong side of ethics when Dave Winters jumped back in the race for state rep after saying he was out in the last elections. Cabello, who set up his campaign and was running, refused to get out of the race at Winters’ command. Unfortunately, Cabello lost, and Winters is still there.
Cabello has said he will fight wind turbines and stay committed to the environment. He proved he has backbone. He fought a good fight and lost; it’s time he has a good win. He will not go along to get along like the amiable Mel Paris. Vote for Cabello.
FOR MEMBERS OF THE COUNTY BOARD, DISTRICT NINE
(Vote for One)
– TED BIONDO, REPUBLICAN
– CAROLYN E. GARDNER, DEMOCRATIC
This one is not easy for anyone to decide. Do you think Carol Gardner was treated fairly, and she should have taken the pay for time she did not serve on the board, even though she was prevented from serving?
Many honorable people would say, well, if I didn’t work, I shouldn’t be paid. Other justice-minded people would say, they held me off, they must pay so they don’t do it again. Your call there.
The court did decide in her favor. Biondo should have run against her. His judgment call was that he didn’t have to run.
Now comes the question, of the two, who will serve the taxpayers better?
I’m going to go with Biondo’s judgment call on the decision not to run as an illustration of why he should not be elected.
On many issues, Biondo can talk a real good game. He has plenty of numbers and seems impressive (think Mark Twain’s citation of “lies, damn lies, and statistics.”)
I always get leery when I hear Biondo rattling off numbers (think “baffle ‘em with bulls#*@”). I’ve seen him do it with the school district and then turn just as we were winning and bow to Mahoney.
I saw him do it on the Cannell subdivision vote, and the precedent was set for bad development zoning of a porous watershed next to an amazing natural area, Nygren Wetland.
Biondo is like a good lawyer who can play either side; but unfortunately for the taxpayer, ultimately his judgment is poor, and it ends up costing us major dollars he says won’t happen. Biondo’s numbers really don’t add up to long-term value.
How does Gardner add up? Well, she hasn’t said much; and when she did speak, she didn’t sound too sharp. She largely goes along with the party, which is par for the course with many on both sides of the aisle. Like Biondo, she’s easygoing.
I just think she’ll do less damage than Biondo. His slick enumeration could really bring us a Cannell-PLUS disaster. History shows his judgment is lacking. Vote for Gardner.
FOR MEMBERS OF THE COUNTY BOARD, DISTRICT TEN
(Vote for One)
– JOHN EKBERG, REPUBLICAN
– CHIGOZIE ACHEBE, DEMOCRATIC
John Ekberg’s family has been a mainstay of this community for decades with farming, real estate, Circle Boring and the family quarry, which has its “coincidences” and had its day in court with Rockford Blacktop. The family also received a raw deal in the Superfund pillaging of southeast Rockford small businesses, leaving larger polluters off the hook.
Ekberg’s family has land it would like to see as an east-side train station as well.
During the 2030 Winnebago County Land Resource Management Plan process, Ekberg forthrightly came to my office and said his family had land in the Kishwaukee River corridor where I was trying to get industrial designations removed. He asked what would be a proper thing to do when that area came before the county board for a vote. I said I’d love to have you vote to keep the zoning agricultural or low-density residential, but even a vote like that could be seen as a conflict of interests. Ultimately, he decided to recuse himself from that vote. Ekberg is an honorable, very nice, family man.
But because of his family connections and past experiences, he’s a little gun shy. For instance, the Rockford Blacktop asphalt plant is in his district, and he did not really go to bat for his constituents who were vastly opposed to their residential neighborhood being industrialized and potentially polluted.
Now, sources tell me water from the quarry runs off into Madigan Creek and its watershed, and the quarry is contributing to flooding during heavy rains at the southeast corner of Mulford and Harrison. Not good. I have the feeling Ekberg is constantly holding back, when he’d rather not.
His opponent, Achebe, knows conflict and struggle. I didn’t know who she was, and so I called around. She’s a single mother of three and now a grandmother. George Anne Duckett (D-12) said Achebe lived in the projects and moved to DeKalb to attain her undergraduate and graduate degree at NIU, and raise her children.
Achebe related she moved to Aurora and Naperville and then Atlanta, Ga., where she was the assistant director of Adult Education at Clark Atlanta University. She then had the opportunity to return to NIU to work and get her Ph.D., which she did in 2006. Her dissertation was on 20 African-American NIU Adult Education alumni and the study of their educational opportunity from the early 1970s to the early 1990s and what they did with their lives. “I learned about student motivation and some very successful lives that overcame failed tests” and other adversity, she said.
“My goal is not only to address social education issues, but to increase literacy. Rockford has one of the highest poverty rates, and we must address economic development as well as educational issues. I live out by Cherry Vale Mall and Rolling Green. I hear complaints about gangs, drive-by shooting and drugs.
“That’s why I believe in making things better. I have returned to Rockford after 20 years, and I could live somewhere else, but Rockford is part of making me what I am. I really have the hope to turn things around. We all have to turn things around.” Achebe concluded she was in the process of beginning a not-for-profit bookstore on the west side of Rockford that will focus on literacy rates in the area. I’m with her. Some of the brain-drain from Rockford has returned. Say, “Thanks for coming back” and vote for Achebe. She doesn’t want to hold back.
FOR MEMBERS OF THE COUNTY BOARD, DISTRICT THIRTEEN
(Vote for One)
– JOHN M. GUEVARA, REPUBLICAN
– BOB G. HASTINGS, DEMOCRATIC
I know very little about John M. Guevara, so I’ll let him say it for himself by quoting his Facebook page, where he says he is an Evangelical Christian and active in Hallstrom Homeschool Cooperative Teacher-Logic; Republican National Hispanic Assembly Winnebago County Chapter-Chairman; The Forum; Life Group Friday.
Under “About me” he writes: “I’m running for County Board in District 13 because I believe that elections should be elections. Voters deserve an alternative to “more of the same,” and I firmly believe that I am the right choice for this district.
“Job growth and public safety are two of the biggest issues facing the Winnebago County. I believe that we deserve a county board member that will tirelessly work to grow our economy by supporting policies that support business growth and stop losing jobs and start winning them. We deserve a board member that understands how essential it is to prevent crime from impacting not only our private lives, but the health and welfare of our community.We also deserve someone that won’t stand for reducing the quality of our citizens’ fire and emergency response services. With what we pay in property taxes, and given the “accuracy” of our assessments (which I hope to investigate), we deserve the fastest response time with full fire and paramedic service. I will be a board member that supports all of these needs.
“People should vote for a county board member that will be dedicated to being as informed as possible on every issue, and my time at Princeton University prepared me for this challenge. Folks should vote for the candidate that believes we should only pay for as much government as we can afford, and more importantly, that we absolutely need. After years of budget surpluses, now we’re faced with budget deficits. People deserve a candidate who won’t be satisfied with that, and who will be accountable to the voters for every public penny. Voters should have a candidate that is easy to get a hold of, and is open about county business. I will be this candidate for District 13 in 2010. If you vote for me, I will exceed your expectations.
“In my current position I’m part of a team that’s responsible for managing quarterly budget, and I ask myself with every penny I spend, ‘Is this the best decision for my business?’ As your county board member, the question I’ll ask will be, ‘Is this the best use of the taxpayer’s money?’ Plain and simple,” Guevara concludes on Facebook.
Bob Hasting is the Minority leader (Democratic) on the board; but during the Zoning Committee meetings for the 2030 Winnebago County Land Resource Management Plan, I thought he was in the same party as fellow committee member Frank Gambino. Hastings looked as if he was constantly taking cues from Gambino, and I can only remember the two voting differently once; and then in the next meeting, Hastings turned his vote around to match Gambino’s.
As a former officer with the pipefitters union, Hastings has enjoyed IBEW endorsements and voted for the environmentally-disastrous Wind Farm Ordinance. The unions like the developers/real estate folks because they supply the jobs. That’s great, but neither should be a voting member of the county board because citizens/taxpayers interests play second fiddle to the tune called by developers/real estate industrial complex. We give them things other businesses do not get. Yet, too many times, this paper seems to be the only critical thinker pointing that out. Where is everybody—particularly the local environmentalists? They are hiding under the nearest rock because everyone is afraid to take the “Jobs First!” juggernaut in these economic times. Sometimes “Jobs First” means the “Future Last.” The short-term gains are outweighed by the long-term losses.
Unions and developers cannot control the agenda and determine all-too-many outcomes in our county board meetings!
We need courage and fairness!
Let’s give the new fellow and some diversity a chance. Vote for Guevara.
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