Job: Chief financial officer for a commercial real estate firm
Phone: (618) 830-4980
Education: A.S. in criminal justice, Lewis & Clark Community College; B.S., SIUE
Previous offices: Madison County Board District 15
Qualifications: I have served on the Madison County Board for the past four years and have been a watchdog and an outspoken critic of wasteful and questionable spending. I led efforts to place the county's checkbook online in 2010 so that taxpayers could see where all of their tax dollars were being spent. This led to Madison County receiving a top rating on transparency for our website. As a former small business owner in addition to my leadership role at my current company, along with my accounting and financial background, I fully understand how efficient budgets should operate. I also serve as the board president and as a volunteer for a local faith-based non-profit: Riverbend Family Ministries in Wood River. This organization works to help the most needy and vulnerable residents in our community. I get to see first hand the challenges and struggles that folks in our community truly face. I also see the amazing work that is accomplished by local non-profits, who work with incredible efficiency and often on a shoe-string budget.
Top issues: Property taxes are definitely the top issue in this race. The property tax levy was raised in each of the past 10 years, despite the fact that our property values have been down for the past five years. Madison County government has failed to become more efficient by not utilizing all of the technology at our disposal, but refusing to look at overlap and consolidation of services and departments, a lack of effective auditing, and the rampant cronyism in hiring that has plagued our county for decades. Property taxes should not increase while property values are falling. Integrity is also an issue, and it covers many areas. Accepting campaign contributions from vendors who are doing business with the county is a clear conflict of interest, as is accepting tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from county employees appointed to high-paying positions. I have pledged to stop this practice immediately. As County Board chairman, I will end the practice of cronyism and nepotism by refusing to hire family members of elected officials. Hiring will be based strictly on qualifications, not relations, and the hiring process will be transparent for the first time in our county's history. I will refuse to participate in the pension system afforded to the County Board chairman if I'm elected. Elected officials should be part of the solution, not part of the problem. The salary is more than enough to save for my own retirement, without needing the taxpayers to subsidize it. Madison County has engaged in two very expensive lawsuits against our two largest employers: Olin Corporation and Phillips 66, seeking more and more property tax dollars. In the decade-long lawsuit against Olin, the taxing bodies' consortium has lost every single appeal at every level of court, yet they continue to file more appeals. This lawsuit has cost the taxpayers more than $1.1 million. As County Board chairman, I will not contribute to our reputation as a Judicial Hellhole, and I will create a jobs-friendly environment that encourages businesses to locate here in Madison County, without fear of being constantly sued by our local government. Madison County's unemployment rate has now climbed to 9.7 percent.