The following questions were sent to me by the Rockford Register Star, the paper of record for Winnebago County. They are likely going to be printed in their Sunday, November 4th edition. But I don’t want to wait that long …
1. Why are you running? Most people are aware the Democratic Party has been in control of the state legislature for some time now. But few may realize that for the past twenty plus years, the GOP has had majority rule of our county board. If elected I will certainly bring something that our county board has never had before, and that is a truly grassroots progressive perspective. I don’t own a business and so I have no conflicts of interest that can create potential problems with politicians at any level of government. I have zero use, care, or want to be a member of the good ole boys network and have even less use, care, or want for backroom deals and/or the status quo which has stagnated our county board for decades and has turned people off from having much trust in their local government. I’m a signatory of the American Anti-Corruption Act and Represent.US and feel the people of this county deserve representation that is 100% citizen focused. The special interests, lobbyists, and lawyers can all stand in line like everyone else as I speak, listen to, and treat each individual who seeks me out, regardless of their political leanings with the respect they deserve.
2. Have you ever held an elected office? If so, which one and when did
you serve? I was elected as a precinct captain for the Winnebago Democratic Party for Rockford 51 in March 2014 and March 2016 and then Rockford 25 in March 2018, was also elected as my local (HFT #540 transportation) union secretary in 2012 and its vice-president in 2014 and 2016, and was recently elected to be a delegate for Our Revolution of N. Illinois, the offshoot stemming from the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential run.
3. What can the Winnebago County Board do to balance future budgets
without relying on reserve spending? The latest fiscal budget was recently passed so there is little I could do in the short term. But rest assured, if I’m elected I will be going over the budget with a fine tooth comb over the next year to see which special interests no longer need a welfare check from us to sustain themselves. In the mean time, I say we follow the playbook the Republicans from the state of North Dakota have followed for the last 98 years, and that is by chartering a countywide public bank modeled after their state bank. This public bank would partner with all existing banks and credit unions in our county. We would also be saving our county millions in interest payments alone as those payments would stay here instead of being siphoned off to Wall Street or some far away corporate HQ enriching some fat cat. These saved funds could then be reinvested for new job growth, public safety, and other badly needed social programs like the arts. And as North Dakota’s 1.05% average property tax level shows, the potential for much lowered property taxes here certainly exists. In a nutshell with a public bank we would essentially be kicking Wall Street, its insiders, and to a certain extent our state legislature to the curb from having much say in how we conduct our economic affairs here in our own county. Unfortunately, since we don’t have home rule here in Winnebago County we would need state legislature approval to charter such a public bank to even try. Which is why I’ve already spoken with more than a dozen current and wannabe state reps and a few state senators on the hope this concept becomes accepted by the people of this county and the rest of the county board. But since we don’t have a county bank right now, I will now state unequivocally that I am very much against the idea of cutting spending on any locally based social program to make ends meet! Nearly every single penny that goes towards any social programs is spent right back into our local economy. History has shown time and again that cutting any aspect of the social safety net hurts everybody, including small businesses, and certainly those who need it most. For more on public banking go to my Solutions page or HERE
4. What can the county do to draw more businesses to the area? Lowering crime would clearly help open the door for more business to come in or get started by good local folks who would love the chance. I suspect as our local economy improves over time our crime rates will lower over time as well. How can we improve our business acumen? Well, it wouldn’t hurt to join with the more than 180 communities across America that have invested in public Wi-Fi internet services. Doing so has the potential to turn us into a tech hub for the mid-west. We should also start implementing the use of property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for small businesses as Kane and DuPage counties started using recently that would allow any business owner to upgrade their businesses into the 21st century at no upfront costs. These businesses would have up to 25 years to pay back this upfront financing through either a local utility or perhaps a future county bank? It would also be a huge benefit to expand upon the relationships between the school districts, RVC, Rockford University, and union trades both private and public. Go back and restart programs like Habitat for Humanity where high school students learn carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work and startups like I-Read (with kindergartners) of which I now proudly serve that gets young children motivated to read more, and an expanded curriculum of college level classes in high school, and perhaps help fund greenhouses for every middle school so young teens can learn how to grow their own food.
5. What other issues are important to you and the constituents in your
district, and how would you address those issues? I have knocked on many doors over the past year and have had many wonderful conversations with so many folks. The top two most talked about issues are jobs and public safety. There are many ways to create and bring jobs to our region. First, we really should invest in public Wi-Fi whether we create a county bank or not. This act alone will bring well paying tech jobs into our region practically overnight. Second, we could attempt the idea of micro-loans for potential small businesses. Third, and I’m not saying we follow Galena, IL’s example fully, but that small city is doing very well by keeping the large multi-national corporations like Wal-Mart far enough away from their downtown thank you very much that their downtown is thriving well enough. Fourth, yes, I’m running for a northeast side district, but there is little doubt the west side of Rockford has been largely ignored for far too long. I do think an investment to rebuild the infrastructure on that part of Rockford is in order. In fact, that area should be the first wide area of our county to have any public Wi-Fi if we were to go there. For those who are serious about reducing crime, one of the best remedies in helping to reduce crime is to give people decent jobs with a livable wage and a hopeful outlook for the future. I’m pretty sure the people of my northeast side district would appreciate a slowly lowering crime rate overall as the west side of Rockford gets even half the attention the rest of the area does, which itself will improve the rest of our county. Everybody wins.