Questions from county board candidate forum, March 1, 2012

Following are notes on the responses to questions posed to the two Republican candidates for Lake County Board 13 (there are no Democratic candidates) in a forum held in the Shields Township Community Room on March 1, 2012. Please note that these are only abbreviated notes and do not represent the candidates' verbatim responses.

Q: Many of the roads in Knollwood are crumbling, and their poor condition has begun to negatively affect the real estate market here. Although these are Township roads, what could you, as our county board rep, do to help this situation?

A: Helton: Drainage is the biggest problem; need to get drainage plan in place, then look for state and federal funds. Rummel: Load limits would help. Traffic may be increasing with the planned new construction at Lake Forest Hospital bringing more traffic up Waukegan Rd.  

Q: Police protection in Knollwood is less than ideal, with very little patrol by the County Sheriff. What do you consider an appropriate level of police coverage for a densely populated unincorporated area, and how would you achieve it?

A: Helton: Would work with sheriff's office to improve response time and have more presence in Knollwood, coordinate response with Lake Forest. Rummel: Shared services are expensive; would try to establish the fire station as a sheriff's substation so they would be in the neighborhood. 

Q: Do you believe that County ordinances should in some cases differentiate between heavily populated unincorporated areas and those that are more rural? For example, would you support a county ban on leaf burning in populated areas if there were a way to exclude rural areas or properties of one acre or more?

A: Rummel: There is a need to differentiate. Helton: Would work with residents about what they need; will provide his cell number and be available 24/7, keep residents informed with two-way communication.

Q: A major piece of property in Knollwood, the former Hilltop facility on the west side of Waukegan Road, is on the market and will be redeveloped. What do you know about its current zoning, and how will you advocate for Knollwood residents in the redevelopment process?

A: Helton: Current zoning is R2 and R3 (residential with other approved uses); desirable location with access from both Waukegan Rd and Atkinson Rd; county's current recommended use is government or institutional. Rummel: Also be aware of development of the Harrison House property in Lake Bluff; feels it may affect property values.

Q: During Mr. Rummel’s administration as Lake Forest mayor, the city instituted a real estate transfer tax in Lake Forest. Would either of the candidates consider extending that fee countywide as a revenue enhancement source?

A: Rummel: The tax was created because of teardowns; bigger houses require more infrastructure; not sure it would be effective at the county level. Helton: Not in favor of any more taxes. Buyers were supposed to pay the transfer tax, but often it was absorbed by the sellers.

Q: [To Mr. Rummel first] On the subject of bringing businesses to the area, please explain your position on Costco during your tenure as Mayor. If the objection to the Lake Forest site was the proximity of wetlands, why is the Lake Forest Municipal building in now located there?

A: Rummel: There would have been too much on the property; the Army Corps of Engineers would have had to approve it. Municipal services takes up less space. Helton: The sales tax revenue would have been beneficial. It's always good to try to get control of property.

Q: County board meetings, committee meeting, and hearings are all conducted during the day. Does your schedule readily permit you to attend daytime meetings? How many hours a month do you anticipate spending on county business?

A:Helton: Late in career; it wouldn't be a problem. Rummel: No problem; runs own insurance company with son.

Q: If you are elected, in what ways will you make yourself available to residents?

A: Rummel: Would have meeting with Knollwood residents semiannually; represent 100% of Knollwood residents. Helton: Will stay in contact, help people learn more about what county government does, will come to meetings on a regular basis, provide cell phone number.

Q: What is your position on Winchester House? Should it be repaired, rebuilt, or torn down?

A: Helton: When administration was turned over to the private sector, it saved $2 million. The building is old; county has $35 million to rebuild it; should work with private company to design a more efficient building. There is a need for subsidized nursing home care. Rummel: Renovation is expensive; private sector could rebuild it more cost-effectively; citizens should weigh in.

Q: What are your top priorities for the county?

A: Rummel: (1) traffic; should extend Rt. 53. (2) Jobs; has talked to Abbott; traffic flow is a problem. Helton: (1) Jobs are important, but small businesses drive jobs; would encourage College of Lake County to provide training in trades. (2) Much traffic on Rt. 41 belongs on the tollway; 41 was not built for it. Favors extending Rt. 53.

Q: Should a golf course be built at Ft. Sheridan? If so, how should it be funded?

A: Helton: it's a dead issue as no bidders have responded. Should remain open space with walking trails and views of lake; however, deed restriction needs to be lifted. Rummel: It would kill local municipal courses. There was always a plan B with open space; there should be a study to show people that there is as much value in open space.

Q: Should the county continue to pursue open space possibilities?

A: Rummel: Yes, but in a measured way; make sure it's serving the residents; look at tradeoffs with enterprise zones. Helton: Proponent of open space; will make sure people know what's available; be careful of cost; acquire wetlands to improve drainage.

Q: How can the county help with Knollwood roads?

A: Helton: Develop a drainage and road plan and then be first in line to get federal funds; IL Department of Economic Development also has funding. Rummel: Should study the roads to see what's left of useful life; if it's zero, go to county and tell them something has to be done.