Name: Rodger C. Cook
Immediate family members: Wife, 5 Children, and 6 Grandchildren
Occupation: Business Manager/Self-Employed
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Office sought: St. Clair County Board Chairman
Party affiliation: Republican Party
Previous elected positions and years served: Mayor of Belleville; 1993-1997, Reduced Property Taxes 4 years in a row and reduced crime 4 years in a row.
Why are you running?: In a representative form of government the people deserve a valid choice. I want to give the voters an alternative to the current administration’s failure to listen to people as it relates to tax dollars paid and amount of services, programs, and infrastructure improvements they are getting in return for their hard earned money. In addition, the feedback I am hearing from the citizens is we need a new direction; especially, with Mid-America Airport. My opponent has had twelve (12) years at the helm. I believe I bring a fresh voice and new ideas to the table to change the stagnant status quo.
What is the biggest issue facing St. Clair County, and how should elected officials and county staff approach it?: The biggest issue facing St. Clair County government is earning the people’s trust. The economy has yet to recover fully from the 2008 “Great Recession.” As the people are asked to make cuts and tough choices for their family budget, so should the elected officials. Voter apathy (those not voting) is on the rise. That is because voters have lost faith in their county government and their belief that their vote can make a difference. My opponent and the party in power want the people to stay home. A person staying home supports their base. It is my objective to give the people a reason to vote. As for county staff, I truly think we have a good workforce at all levels trying to serve the people. New direction and ideas falls on the elected officials, at the top, not the staff to promote.
What are your views on MidAmerica Airport, and how should the county handle the future of the airport?: My opponent has set a yearly goal of, “breaking even.” That has yet to happen. In fact, WE THE TAXPAYERS has subsidized Mid-America Airport over 81-Million Dollars since opening. My opponent has also lied to the public by saying, “Mid-America Airport kept Scott Air Force Base (SAFB) from closing. The benefit Mid-America Airport has brought to SAFB is a longer and more modern runway. Financially the taxpayers would have been better off to just build the runway. It is time to bring “Truth and Transparency” to Mid-America Airport. The future of the airport should lie in the hands of the people, not a 5-member appointed Public Building Commission. If elected St. Clair County Board Chairman, one of my first public actions will be to put a new ordinance forward to place the decision making, overview and ultimate future direction of the airport in the hands of the elected St. Clair County Board. Then the Board as elected by the people will be held accountable to the people that they are elected to serve.
What improvements do you want to see in how the county is run?: As noted above, I support the full elected county board, not an appointed board, in charge of Mid-America Airport, thus, empowering the people on its future.
As your County Board Chairman I will be a strong advocate to your State and Federal elected officials to continue to reduce the regulations on our local coal industry as that is a clear path for more jobs and economic development within our region.
I will support more funding for the Sherriff’s office to set a priority to place more deputies on the street to fight and deter crime. Lower crime will attract and foster economic development.
I seek greater “Truth and Transparency” in the operations of our government; including, meetings being recorded and placed for public viewing.
I will seek more funding for the States Attorney’s office and Public Defender’s office for a more aggressive yet fair judicial system.
The county has cut back costs in recent years. What would you do to minimize expenditures? Or would you be open to any tax or fee increases?: It depends on how you define “cut back costs.” The one gimmick of levying for higher taxes and then reducing them is not a sincere taxing practice. We are not meeting the public’s desires. True public forums within the various communities are the way the get the pulse of the people and their desires on how their tax dollars should be spent. We need more focus and funding to fight and deter crime. We need the airport to be placed under the county board to meet the taxpayer’s true funding desires. I do not see any need to raise taxes or fees and will not support such efforts unless shown in black and white that it would be justified. I believe further cuts can be made while still promoting greater services, programs and infrastructure improvements within our County.
Do you plan to serve the full term of office?: Yes, and I will only serve two (2) terms Maximum.
Why should people vote for you?: The voters have to ask themselves if 12-years of the current chairman and his administration are enough; and, can they afford 4-more years? I bring a balanced and renewed choice to the voters. I have outlined my main objectives above. I will surround myself with educated, experienced, and qualified professionals that will stimulate the accomplishment of my goals and more importantly bring trust and a more open and honest government back to the people.