Dist. 20 Democrats focus on transportation, growth

Published: 1/31/2008 1:43 PM

Two candidates are vying for the Democrat nomination for the Kane County Board District 20 seat in Tuesday's primary -- marketing and communications administrative assistant Cristina Castro, 29, of Elgin, and incumbent and small business owner Jesus L. de la Isla, 28, of Elgin. He was appointed to the Kane County Board in November 2006.

Candidates were asked to complete a Q&A; some excerpts from their answers are given below. To read each Q&A in full, visit www.dailyherald.com.

Q. Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what? What will be your main priority?

Cristina Castro. To make a difference and to provide effective leadership that my district has been lacking. My constituents and Elgin need an active, engaged and effective leader who will stand up and fight for important issues. I am eager to represent my constituents and Elgin on the Kane County Board. Transportation is my top priority. Increasing the mobility of residents in and out of my district is both needed and possible.

Jesus L. de la Isla. As the son of immigrant parents, I have a unique perspective of life in our diverse county. I bring to the board the experience of my life not just as a Latino but an American and a parent. My community, my family and my children are what drive me to be involved in politics. There are many priorities I have in office and I would say following and enforcing the 2030 plan be at the top of that list along with continuing a sustainable water supply plan and encouraging municipalities to control their growth.

Q. For incumbents and non-incumbents. If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of important initiatives you've led. If you are not an incumbent, tell us what contributions you would make.

Castro. Currently in my district, there is a lack of communication between the Kane County Board and the citizens and city of Elgin. This lack of communication leaves the city and my constituents in the dark on how county policies affect them. I will attend regular community, neighborhood, and city council meetings in my district to meet this objective. When elected, I would act as a conduit between the county, my constituents and the city of Elgin.

De la Isla. Although an incumbent, I would like to mention that I was recently appointed. I have been chosen by our public service committee to represent the county board on the recent Spanish advisory committee.

Q. Revenues are down and belt-tightening has been ordered for next year's budget. In what ways would you attempt to control expenditures? What services would you reduce first and which would you consider necessities?

Castro. When elected, I will closely review previous years' budgets and conduct a comprehensive analysis to determine where costs have increased, why they have increased, and determine what cuts, if any, are needed. For example, during Karen McConnaughay's tenure as board chairman, the county has seen a steady increase in fees paid to outside consultants. Why? Don't we have staff that can answer these questions? If not, why not? We need accountability in government.

De la Isla. Without a doubt, running a tight ship is of the utmost importance. I would like to note that the county board has limited power in controlling elected officials' expenditures, but controlling overtime in county departments is a start. Also, encouraging municipalities to kick in their fair share in animal control.

Q. Transportation issues continue to be a major concern to residents. How would you judge the county's response to their demands so far? What would you consider to be of highest county priority in this area and how would you fund its delivery?

Castro. The county's response has been lackluster and inept. There has been a failure to effectively communicate with the people who can help us the most, our state and federal legislators. These are the individuals who can bring back dollars from our federal highway bill and state capital bill. Just as I would increase communication between the county and the city on behalf of my district, I will also be communicating with my state and federal legislators to help bring back greater transportation dollars to the district.

De la Isla. Transportation will always be an issue of major concern in Kane County, particularly important to the north end is the Longmeadow Parkway bridge. Continuing cooperation with the state and federal government is vital. Also working with lawmakers to ensure Kane County gets the appropriate tax dollars to our tax base. A toll bridge is an option, so that the users of the bridge pay for the bridge and the county residents don't end up footing the bill.

Q. With one longtime issue, the county jail, all but resolved, there remains the enduring issue of county office consolidation. Should it be a priority and how would you accomplish it financially? Explain. If not, what issue do you consider of more immediate concern and why.

Castro. As I stated in answer number three, when elected I will closely review the previous year's budget to see what new efficiencies and synergies can be obtained. However, I will say as a business professional I have had the opportunity to talk with local attorneys and Realtors. My belief is that the county's recorder's office, because of modernization, is an office we might consider merging with another county office.

De la Isla. I agree that the county office consolidation is an enduring issue. Without a doubt it makes sense that the sheriff's office, circuit court office and the coroner's office come together at the judicial center. Financially, the sale of the jail would help.

Q. The county has taken a leadership role in studying the issue of long-term water supply maintenance and protection. What should the county's emphasis be in this area over the next few years? Explain.

Castro. To ensure appropriate impact fees for new development and to provide relief for seniors and people with disabilities who are on fixed and limited incomes to lessen the impact of increased water usage.

De la Isla. Water supply is a concern. An emphasis needs to be placed on working with municipalities on encouraging growth control. Enforcement of the 2030 plan is essential.

Q. Not including those issues already identified above, is there another issue you believe will impact the county or your district over the next four years? If so, define it and explain how you would like to see it addressed.

Castro. A central communication center, perhaps a 311 line. That will quickly and efficiently direct residents of my district and county do needed services and agencies.

De la Isla. Taxes are always a concern at the county. Growth in Elgin. A growing population naturally increases crime. An addition of the jail perhaps can be an issue in the future. Again, controlling growth and enforcing the 2030 plan is essential.