Election: Kane County Board District 5
The race for the Kane County Board District 5 Republican nomination in the March 18 General Primary Election will come down to incumbent Melisa Taylor and challenger Bill Lenert
Lenert on March 18 will seek the board’s District 5 seat and the opportunity to represent its 22,000 residents.
“I would work to ensure that our taxpayers receive the best possible return on every tax dollar they spend,” he said.
In order to accomplish this, Lenert, a Sugar Grove resident, said he will listen to the needs and desires of his constituents to make sure the board is utilizing its county resources in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible to improve the daily lives of its residents.
Lenert has a wife, Mary; three kids, Katie, Bill and Mike; and six grandchildren. He’s been a small-business owner in Kane County for over 29 years, and has seen the way that burdensome regulations and high taxes can cripple business expansion and job growth in our community. He owns Lenert Insurance Agency in Aurora.
“I believe the same sound, fiscal principles that I have utilized personally and in my business should be implemented by our County Board to ensure responsible and proper use of our taxes,” he said.
Lenert believes that being a first-time candidate for political office will provide the citizens of District 5 with a new voice on issues impacting our local community.
“I am running because I know I can be an asset to the County Board in working to make our community an even more desirable place to live and work,” he said.
He also believes his business, educational (M.B.A., Illinois Benedictine University), and community leadership experience distinguish him from his opponent. Over the past 30 years, Lenert’s been an active community participant, serving as co-chair of the successful 2004 West Aurora School District Referendum, co-chair of the successful 2013 Saint Katharine Drexel “Open Wide Your Hearts” building campaign, board member of the Rockford Diocese Finance Council since 2006, as well as former president of the Holy Angels School Board, and former board member of the Aurora Family Counseling Service.
“These experiences allow me to offer a fresh perspective to the County Board that is most reflective of the desires and needs of our residents,” Lenert said. “My professional demeanor will make me a more effective representative in working with community leaders and our taxpayers to serve the needs of the residents of District 5.”
If elected, Lenert’s top three priorities will include lowering taxes, extending Metra to Sugar Grove, and promoting more jobs and better wages.
“I fully support maintaining a frozen property tax levy indefinitely,” he said. “It is imperative that our County Board members continue to exercise sound fiscal management in eliminating financial waste to lessen the ever increasing tax burdens placed upon our residents.”
In terms of the Metra-to-Sugar Grove project, Lenert sees the improvement of transportation as a critical component to the economic well-being of any community. And by extending Metra to Sugar Grove, he believes the citizens of District 5 will be provided with a convenient means of transportation that is lacking.
“Accomplishing this goal will connect our residents with surrounding suburbs and Chicago, making District 5 more attractive to commuters and businesses alike,” he said. “In order to promote more jobs and better wages in Kane County, we must attract new businesses to our community. Having been a lifelong Kane County resident and local business owner, I have developed relationships with many successful individuals and businesses in our community. My ability to comfortably conduct myself in a professionally diplomatic manner makes me the best candidate to attract new development and business opportunities to District 5.”
Lenert sees an environment of professional collaboration and mutual respect between County Board members and department directors as critical to the successful operations of the county, and believes its leaders must be able to conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner if they wish to work together to improve the quality of life for residents.
“My business and community experiences allow me to best professionally, competently and diplomatically represent the interests of District 5,” he said. “Additionally, our community leaders must make themselves available to address the needs and concerns of their constituents. If elected, my constituents can expect to be treated with the same respect and attentiveness I have provided to my insurance clients for the past 30 years. I will make every effort to promptly respond to their questions and concerns and will work to make sure their needs are properly addressed.”
Lenert defines his motivation for seeking the District 5 County Board seat with a simple reason.
“I believe that my experiences as a lifelong Kane County resident and local business owner will assist the County Board in working collaboratively to improve the quality of life for all Kane County residents,” he said.
As founder of Sugar Grove’s Between Friends Food Pantry, Taylor’s seen firsthand the obstacles and pain felt in families in the 5th District and elsewhere throughout Kane County.
“(That) is forefront in my mind when I take a vote or a position on issues affecting us,” Taylor said. “I have worked with taxpayers to ask our assessor why she is raising our assessments when our taxes are going nowhere but up. I think about our fiscal condition when I ask difficult questions. Why can’t we merge these services and make our government work more efficiently?”
As a community volunteer, Taylor became involved with educational issues while raising two daughters with her husband, Rich. Before long she was elected to serve as a trustee on the Sugar Grove Village Board.
“As I realized that our county government demanded an independent voice, free from influence, nepotism and conflicts, I moved toward consideration of a County Board seat,” she said.
Elected to the County Board in fall 2010 and re-elected in 2012, Melisa has helped residents battle local flooding problems, and she’s worked hard for an expanded commercial development along Randall Road. She said she wants to avoid additional costs to business owners when they want to develop in Kane County.
Taylor said the average American family statistically has $3,000 in average savings, so every penny that they give to the county as taxpayers to government, especially locally, makes the County Board’s responsibility to them serious and sacred.
“Our job as County Board members is to remember that we must stand up, do the right thing and ensure that we are always aware that our allegiance is to our districts, and that our job is to work cooperatively with those on the board to ensure that our district is well represented,” Taylor said.
Taylor also believes she’s done her best to stay involved in district outreach activities, including volunteerism, local public service, church expansion and rebuilding. She was involved in finding an alternative building while St. Katherine’s Parish was under construction, and served on the Solheim Cup Committee. She also helped the county veteran’s coordinator to organize the Veteran’s Honor Day at the Kane County Wall honoring service men and women.
“I enjoy staying in touch with people in the 5th District,” she said.
Taylor has traveled downstate to represent her district, organized tax appeal meetings, and she’s assisted in sending messages out about subdivision, village and township needs. She’s also made it a priority to question “needless county waste and spending.”
“I have never denied that I investigate, inquire and want to ensure that my constituents know that the money they give to their county government is being utilized for solid projects, plans, and programs, which will serve the needs of the district,” Taylor said. “My investigations seek to ensure that my peers and I work cooperatively so valuable projects sought in our district are met favorably by my colleagues.”
Taylor also notes that she believes she has no personal conflicts that may interfere with her decisions to represent the people in her district.
“My opponent does have clear conflicts of interest, which would arise during voting and decision making as a board member,” Taylor said. “Being a childhood friend of the county chairman, a major donor for (Kane County Board Chairman Chris) Lauzen’s campaigns and also his longtime insurance agent means he will likely follow his lead in any issue and vote as told to. My opponent’s son also works for the law firm representing the county chairman, the County Board and the Forest Preserve, which also brings up more issues of nepotism and pay-to-play politics.”
If re-elected, Taylor wants to focus on the completion of the Route 47/I-88 interchange by working as a team with local, state, federal and private entities, and she’s also interested in the extension of Dauberman Road, stressing the need to re-establish communication and teamwork to explore the process and the possibility of any potential outside financing.
Taylor also wants to continue working with Metra on its Sugar Grove extension by progressing talks in order to keep the project on the forefront of the company’s project list.
“If re-elected, Taylor pledges to research the issues and ask the appropriate questions, and said she supports her fellow board members to do the same.
“I pledged when I took office that I would remain vigilant in regard to needless spending, consolidate government service when needed and treat your money as if it is the last dollar available. This has not always been popular, but my resolve is to do whatever is right for my district. They are my employers, and my dedication to them is my first priority.”