Kane chairman candidates talk about experience
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News October 5, 2012 2:48PM
Debate between Chris Lauzen and Sue Klinkhamer, two candidates for Kane County Board Chairman in St Charles on Thursday, Oct. 04, 2012. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 8, 2012 11:58AM
ELGIN — Across all seats up for election Nov. 6 in Kane County, a few topics seemed central in voter minds during a League of Women Voters candidate forum Thursday night.
The cost of a new computer system for the Kane County clerk of court, the Kane County Forest Preserve District’s goals, and corporate money in U.S. and local elections were among the issues debated by those candidates. The forum was held at the Gail Borden Public Library, which cosponsored the forum.
The forum lasted nearly 2½ hours as candidates from nearly all the county races were given a chance to share their qualifications and points of view with the voters. If candidates were unable to attend, a representative was allowed two minutes to speak, as was the opponent.
The night kicked off with Kane County Board chairman candidates Sue Klinkhamer and Chris Lauzen.
Klinkhamer was the St. Charles mayor for two terms, and went on to work in U.S. Rep. Bill Foster’s district office, and in Washington, D.C., as a transportation lobbyist for the city of Chicago.
“I feel my background makes me the only qualified candidate in this race. I am looking forward to this process as less of a campaign and more of a job interview,” Klinkhamer said.
She also noted that she’d asked to be on the agenda early, as Thursday was her 37th wedding anniversary “and I have a date with a guy,” she laughed.
Lauzen is the current state senator for the 25th District, and has served as a senator since 1992.
He directed voters to charts in his campaign literature that indicate Kane County property taxes have grown at a faster pace than per capita income, while also pointing out his past success as a small businessman and his 20 years in the Senate.
“I have gotten an extensive education over the last 20 years, how politics and government works — in many ways bad — in Springfield,” he said.
One of the first questions asked the candidates about their position on an advisory referendum on the November ballot. It will ask residents if they would approve an amendment to the U.S. constitution to limit the use of corporate, special interest and private money in any political activity, including influencing the election of any candidate for public office.
Klinkhamer said that since she is funding her own campaign, she agrees with the measure.
“Money in politics has gotten to the point that it has eliminated the effectiveness in any kind of political board. The safest way to do that is to not take any contributions at all.
It is just a slippery slope, and it should be ended,” Klinkhamer said.
She also told potential donors to give their funds to local social service agencies instead of her campaign, Klinkhamer said.
Lauzen said that while he agreed with the proposed amendment’s spirit, such a ban would be unconstitutional and violate freedom of speech.
“It is not sufficient to say it is unconstitutional, so give me more money,” Lauzen added.
“We can self impose limits,” he said, adding that he would not take campaign contributions from any corporation doing business with the county, and capped at $500 any donation from the owners of those businesses.
The two candidates were the asked for their thoughts on spending by the Kane County Forest Preserve District on BMX bike and mountain bike trails, and other recreational spending other than open space. All county board members are, by default, also forest preserve district commissioners.
The priority is preserving our open space, Lauzen said, adding that he is against mining operations in the forest preserve. He did add, however, that there seems to be some “mission creep” by the district.
“There are more and more responsibilities in the forest preserve, more taxes and then more referenda. I do appreciate that people have voted for the forest preserve, but that is for open space, not an ice arena,” he said.
Klinkhamer said she agreed with several of Lauzen’s points, but noted that of several referenda at the county level, those by the forest preserve, to purchase more open space, were usually successful.
“With the ice arena purchase, people got upset, but they did move their headquarters there,” she said. Also, with rentals “It is a money maker, but it is not open space in the true sense of the word. I think the forest preserve is doing a good job at sticking to their mission.”
Neither had much time left to address the outdated records management system used by the clerk of court. The current system was purchase in 2002, and a replacement system has been quoted to cost $12 million.
Lauzen said he has talked with other counties about using their system and sharing resources.