Fair
63°FFairFull Forecast

Andrew Gasser

Demographics

Republican

Fox River Grove, IL

Bachelors Degree, Criminology, St. Leo University

US Air Force Officer, Retired

Not available,

Noah, 10

Austin, 15

Andrew, 18

On The Record

Why are you running for county board?

I’m running for McHenry County Board because we need more government watch dogs. Our county property taxes are among the highest in the nation. Nearly every citizen who owns a home in McHenry County has seen the value of their property decrease, while at the same time, has had their property taxes rise faster than the rate of inflation. This is just wrong. It is wrong that when we are having to do more with less and the seeing our hard earned dollar lose its purchasing power while the local government maintains itself. It just seems to me that politicians keep on running our government the same way because “that’s just the way it’s done.” I think this wrong and we should look for savings through innovation and reducing the size of government bodies where we can. The Illinois pension plan is in a crisis. How can any elected politician take a pension when our teachers are hurting? Therefore, I will not be taking the pension should I be elected. Elected officials get “Cadillac Health Insurance Plans” while many citizens go without or may have even lost coverage due to Obamacare. Therefore, I will not accept the insurance plan.

What is your top legislative priority if you are elected?

Job creation is my number one legislative issue at the county board. Jobs in McHenry county increase the tax revenue the county, and municipalities, collect. We must work to make McHenry County attractive to create businesses. We must be friendlier to new businesses than our neighboring counties. Currently, McHenry County is the 29th most expensive county… not in Illinois but the nation. With such high taxes we cannot effectively compete against other counties. We must look at ways to reduce the burden of government on not only the businesses and job creators, but also everyone who lives and works in McHenry County. By lowering taxes we allow entrepreneurialism to flourish and create more jobs in the county. This in turn increases the number of taxpayers in the system. Even though we have lowered taxes, with more businesses, jobs, and economic activity we increase revenues and the quality of life. We have to turn a critical eye to how we spend our taxpayer dollars. We must really start to assess what is critical to maintain the county government, what is a need, and what is a want. When we start making these decisions the county becomes more conducive for economic development.

Where do you stand on the upcoming March referendum to make the County Board chairmanship popularly elected by the voters?

I think the internal approach to elect a board chairman leaves a lot to be desired because of the politicking that has traditionally been done to win the chairmanship. Although one advantage of the current system is that the term is for 2 years. Unfortunately the majority of current county board members choose the four year rather than the two year option for the county wide elected chairman. A four year term is problematic because the electorate could get stuck with a chairman who yields significant power over board members and the county but may not live up to the responsibilities entrusted to him or her. I do respect the board’s decision to allow the people to decide if they want to popularly elect the county chairman. On the other hand, allowing a county board chairman to be elected to a four year term is a poor choice. Thus, I recommend the public vote no for this measure.

Do you believe that the County Board – before 2013 – kept an adequate eye on the finances and spending of the McHenry County Mental Health Board? Why or why not?

The county board failed the taxpayers with respect to the Mental Health Board. A $1.4 million dollar loan given to a faltering agency is unacceptable to me. How can the CEO collect a golden parachute of over $240k and then have the loan forgiven? Salaries and administration costs of the MHB are unacceptable. After pressure the MHB was forced to admit that salaries and administration costs were above 30%. To me – again, this is completely unacceptable. With a budget of roughly $12.5 million are we the taxpayers to believe the county needs to expend $3.75 million to distribute the remaining $8.75 million? The purpose of the MHB is to help those who cannot help themselves. We need transparent government where elected officials and the citizens should be able to examine the current budget as well as the past five years in easily searchable excel and pdf formats without having to FOIA the information. The citizens of McHenry County want to help those who need it. However, the mechanism that administers those funds is broken and if elected – this will be an agenda item for myself and others on the board.

Do you believe the county should continue to run Valley Hi Nursing Home, or would you like to see it sold to a private entity?

More and more counties are moving away from maintaining and running county nursing homes. A few years ago that option was put forward to the voters in the form of a referendum. McHenry County voters voted overwhelmingly to keep Valley Hi intact as an important resource for our elderly. Recently, Valley Hi has moved toward profitability and economic stability due to the skill of the current management and staff. There does not seem any reason to change the approach that is currently in place. However, this does not mean that the county board should not exercise scrutiny over the Valley Hi budget. It is also good that we have such an excellent resource to care for our elderly who may be facing dire circumstances.

What issues would you like to see addressed in the upcoming Unified Development Ordinance?

I believe that the most important objective of the Unified Development Ordinance is to protect our groundwater supply. As a land locked county with no access to Lake Michigan water (by US treaty) we must depend solely on our own groundwater. McHenry County must have protections in place to make certain that clean plentiful groundwater is available for the generations that follow. The UDO will give guidance in rural areas as well as municipalities with zoning boards. Protecting open spaces is an important part of groundwater protection. Poorly planned spot development diminishes open spaces, and as a result, restricts aquifer recharge which is vital to residential, business, and agriculture. Therefore, this is an important provision. To me this means that development in, as well as adjoining to existing developments, and municipalities is far more suitable than development in rural areas that lack the infrastructure to support the new homes and businesses. Taking these proactive measures will provide water availability for generations to come, protects our property values, and ensures that McHenry County remains a highly desirable area to work, live, and raise a family.

Do you believe county government should continue to keep its tax levy frozen? Why or why not? And if not, what expenses would you cut to ease the burden on taxpayers?

The County Board has done the right thing by freezing the tax levy this year. Economic times have been difficult for most in McHenry County and holding the line on taxes was the right thing to do. Going forward holding the line will not be enough. Next year –we must shrink the size of the McHenry County government. Aggressively controlling or eliminating costs is the only way to achieve a smaller county government. One way to do obtain smaller government is to avoid unnecessary capital development and expanding government services. The recent Randall Road pork barrel widening project is an example where spending, such as the $1 Million in community outreach, is excessive and unnecessary. I will be very cautious in taking on expensive transportation and road projects that require bond financing that will burden future taxpayers, and are unrealistic for the County to undertake. I will challenge the expensive status quo and the dysfunction that occurs through government expansion in the misguided attempt to solve all of society’s problems by proposing more government programs. I will lead the effort to oversee corrective action to address waste, abuse, and restructuring so community needs are addressed in a cost-effective manner.

Watch Now

Player embeded on all NWH instances for analytics purposes.

Don Burda: The Bee Keeper

More videos »
 

Reader Poll

What's your favorite part of the McHenry County Fair?
Carnival rides
Food
4-H contest
Demolition derby
Other