These responses were submitted by Libertarian Kevin Woodard, who faces McLean County Board member Chuck Erickson. The questionnaire was prepared by GLT in partnership with the League of Women Voters of McLean County. See more candidate responses.
Explain any experience you have working or serving with McLean County government.
While serving as Traffic Engineer with the City of Bloomington, I worked on projects with McLean County, The Town of Normal, McLean County Regional Planning Commission and Illinois Wesleyan University. Previously I served in the the appointed position of City Traffic Engineer for Shreveport Louisiana as a Division Head managing 40 employees, a $3,000,000 annual operations budget and a $3,000,000 annual capital improvements budget. I was also appointed by the Institute of Transportation Engineers to serve on the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. I have over 15 years of experience with city governments including working for the cities of Kansas City, Missouri, Olathe, Kansas, Wichita, Kansas, and Ames, Iowa.
Last fall, the county had to close a $1.5 million budget gap — a deficit that led to an early retirement program and other cuts. What would you prioritize in future budgets if revenues remain tight?
We have to take care of the counties most important assets, its employees. A budget that does not provide raises for its deserving employees is a failed effort. I would also prioritize basic services such as those provided by the Highway Department. I also support the Health Department and am especially interested in doing more in the area of providing mental health. One thing that the Board must face is developing a long range plan for the Nursing Home. I support a consultant's study that will look at the next 25 years, be cost constrained, include the cost of a new building, consider a futurists view of the next 25 year trends expected in the nursing home industry, consider the current five year capital improvement plan, and consider an Alzheimer's wing. Options such as selling or closing the home should also be evaluated.
What would be your approach to evaluating economic incentives to help bring (or expand) businesses in McLean County?
I do not favor Government Welfare and am generally opposed to economic incentives. These incentives unfairly shift more of the tax burden to existing businesses, property owners and everyone that pays sales taxes. While I agree that Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is an available tool, it should be used sparingly and wisely. When you can land a major employer such as Mitsubishi, their use is definitely worthy of consideration. When you can revitalize a dying shopping center like has been done by encouraging Dicks to locate on Empire Road they are worthy of consideration. However, if a project is smaller than that I highly doubt TIF is beneficial. I also want to see our property tax rates be sound enough so that we can defend them in court when necessary We need to stop making legal agreements with certain companies that lower their tax rates.
Do you think McLean County should establish a countywide election commission? Why or why not?
No. I do not believe there is such a thing as a non-partisan board under any circumstances. All such board members are appointed by someone that is partisan so saying the board would be non partisan is nonsense. We need only look to the recent action of a Bloomington Election Commission (BEC) member to illustrate the point. That member, a Democrat, supported by the McLean County Democratic Party challenged the petition that was presented by the McLean County Libertarian and McLean County Republican parties to put the referendum on the ballot to eliminate the BEC. Speaking of the petition to eliminate the BEC, those that support a McLean County Election Commission should support it. Eliminating the BEC must be done before a referendum to create a county wide commission can be placed on the ballot.
Do you support changing County Board meeting times — from the morning to afternoons or evenings?
Yes. Move them to 7:00 p.m. There is no reason that these meetings can not be moved to the evenings so that people who work during the day can attend the meetings.
How do you think McLean County government can help to provide more affordable housing in the area?
I am not sure it is the role of government to provide affordable housing. Such efforts may actually result in increasing the cost of housing for everyone as government assistance artificially inflates costs. I am concerned that the only people that may actually benefit from these types of projects are the developers that often receive funds from federal state and local governments to build the projects. So the tax payer gets hit three times. He pays the developer to build the housing, the renter to support his rent, and pays higher rent for his own apartment. To the degree that we may want to provide affordable housing we have to be careful how we define it. For example, if we were to say 15% of the population needed assistance with housing, that does not mean they need assistance that would provide them with average housing.
How would you describe the relationship between the County Board, the Board of Health and the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council? What role the County Board play in guiding health policy, governance?
I see the Board of Health as the professional Board that would make professional recommendations to the County Board. My understanding is that the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council is an advisory group. I believe the County Board should be willing to take input from any concerned parties or groups especially these two. Regarding details the County Board should rely heavily on the professionals for guidance and not get overly involved in day to day activities.
What would be your approach to evaluating land-use requests involving renewable energy like wind and solar?
I believe the process we have is more than adequate. I support both Wind Farms and Solar Farms. Wind farms have created hundreds of jobs in McLean County. Our three existing wind farms represent three of our top 10 biggest tax payers. Wind Farms and Solar Farms not only provide clean energy and tax dollars but they also provide income for the land owner. I also like the Solar Bloomington 2.0 Program largely because it doesn't require government involvement. It is an excellent example of the power of community purchasing. I also support the Ecology Action Center particularly their volunteer clean up programs and the current program to supply recyclable trash carts to needy families.