These responses were submitted by Jordan Baker, the Republican candidate for McLean County Board in District 8. See more candidate responses.
Why do you want to represent your district on the McLean County Board?
District 8 is home to Illinois Wesleyan and downtown Bloomington, and I have called this place home for three years. I have always been involved in politics, but my focus was more national. However, as I continued learning, I recognized the influence that local government has on citizens. I began helping local candidates, which fueled my desire to serve as an elected official.
As I go around talking to my neighbors, I ask them two simple questions: 1) Do you know who your local representatives are? and 2) When is the last time, not during an election, they talked to you? These two simple questions have led me to the conclusion that our local leadership is failing to connect with the community. This is something I intend to fix. I plan on holding monthly town hall circuits of the precincts within District 8 to keep citizens up to date on local affairs and solicit advice from them. At a time when trust in government is low, we need to elect representatives that will truly have an ear for the community and act on it. I will be that representative.
What are your expectations for the McLean County Health Department in 2021 as they relate to the pandemic? What would you do as a County Board to help the department meet those expectations?
As an elected official, my first task is to listen. It will be paramount to have a strong connection with the Health Department so as to act decisively and efficiently when needed. COVID-19 has created an ever shifting demand, therefore it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how to meet specific expectations when demand is constantly changing. My hope is that in the next year, the Health Department will be working with state and federal officials to disperse a vaccine instead of more testing. However, if this is not the case, I will continue to work with the Health Department to ensure they are getting access to necessary equipment to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in McLean County. I am pleased to see the Gibson City testing site has helped our rural citizens get quicker access to COVID-19 testing as well. We must listen to citizens and the Health Deparment to ensure the County Board is making the most efficient decisions possible.
Aside from the pandemic, what are the most pressing public health concerns in McLean County, and what would you do as a County Board member to help address them?
Behavioral and mental health have to be high on the list. As an elected official, I will continue to work with the McLean County Behavioral Health Coordinating Council to get people the treatment they need in an efficient manner. I will ask the BHCC to conduct more routine analyses of data to produce best practices and align actions to meet the needs of people who are suffering from mental and behavioral issues.
For years, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council has addressed jail overcrowding and mental health. What additional issues would you like to see the CJCC focus on next?
America has seen great distress and protests due to police brutality. This is not a new issue that started in 2020, but it is now at the front lines of a problem that needs a solution. I hope the CJCC is already working on integrating community events with local leaders and groups to find the best ways in which we can foster a greater trust between law enforcement and the community. No one should fear for his or her life in their car, walking the streets, or in their own home.
Do you think the county should continue to operate its own nursing home? Why or why not?
I will withold a firm answer considering the Nursing Home has just entered new leadership. Based on current fiscal concerns, I share the goal of the new administrator that we need to raise the amount of people who live at the Nursing Home. This will require teamwork between county officials and the community, and I look forward to helping out as best as I can.
How would you evaluate whether to support offering economic incentives, such as tax breaks, to businesses to get them to expand or locate in McLean County?
I will prioritize helping entrepreneurs, first-time business owners, and locally-owned businesses looking to locate in McLean County. Before giving them tax breaks or other incentives, I want to make sure the business has a strong model that demonstrates an ability to be profitable. I will also look to highlight the great strengths of McLean County such as inter-connected transportation, central location, low-cost living, diverse education, and strong labor. Combining local strengths with financial incentives, I hope to bring new businesses that are community-minded to McLean County.
What would be your priorities if asked to consider controversial land-use questions, such as those surrounding wind turbines, solar farms, etc.?
I believe that wind turbines and solar farms give McLean County the chance to create strong, well-paying jobs, while also providing cleaner energy to greater Central Illinois. McLean is well positioned to be a leader when it comes to renewable energy, and I look forward to working with those who share the same vision.
The County Board is unusual among local governments in that it’s partisan, with political parties attached to members’ names. Why are you a Republican, a Democrat, or a Libertarian?
I believe in fiscal responsibility, efficient government, and that greater government intervention into people's lives reduces freedom and ability to carve one's destiny. I believe these principles lie mostly within the Republican party. I maintain that differences between political parties become more exasperated at higher levels of office as well. It is my philosophy that no matter what party one affiliates with, I do not allow such identification to inhibit empathizing or working with them.
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