Highland News Leader

Candidates for Madison County Board talk taxes, ideology

On left is David Michael of Highland, the Republican candidate for Madison County Board District 4. On the right is Kelly Tracy of Marine, a Democrat and the incumbent in the race.
On left is David Michael of Highland, the Republican candidate for Madison County Board District 4. On the right is Kelly Tracy of Marine, a Democrat and the incumbent in the race. Courtesy photos

In Madison County Board District 4, both candidates tout their business experience and say they want to keep taxes low.

“As a business owner in my district for the past 13 years, I know what it takes to keep jobs in Madison County, and I know the responsibilities of working families in our county. For this reason, I have a strong commitment to hold the line on property taxes, maintain a balanced budget, provide service and assistance to residents and keep Madison County a quality area to raise a family,” said Kelly Tracy, the Democratic incumbent who also owns and operates Kelly Tracy Ad & Design in Marine.

Her Republican challenger, David Micheal, is a lifetime Highland resident and certified public accountant. He is the son of Gaye and Susie Michael, owners of a landmark Highland business, Michael’s Restaurant, which was started by Gaye’s parents, Guy and Joann Michael.

Madison County Board District 4 includes parts of Highland and Livingston, and all of St. Jacob, Marine and Alhambra

Michael said he wants to bring financial responsibility and conservative principals to the Madison County Board.

“I want to help serve our community by being a conservative voice for the people of my district. Unfortunately, for longer than an entire decade, the County Board voted to increase our property taxes. Even during the Great Recession, while home values plummeted, the County Board kept voting to increase the tax levy. I strongly believe that these types of policies are what hurt the average middle-class worker in our county the most, and until someone new comes in who starts to say ‘no’ to tax increases and fee increases, we average workers will continue to suffer. I hope to be that voice,” said Michael, who works as vice president of development and finance at the Father McGivney Catholic High School in Glen Carbon.

“As the V.P. of development and finance for Father McGivney Catholic High School, I strive each day to be a good steward of our donors’ money, always trying to save money and keep cost pressures low. I think that type of mindset is exactly what is needed in all levels of government,” Michael said.

Many residents have said that they have strongly considered leaving Madison County because of increasing property taxes.

David Michael, Republican candidate for Madison County Board District 4

But Tracy said being a good steward of tax dollar is exactly what she has done. She said keeping the county’s books balanced while keeping property taxes in check has been her No. 1 accomplishment in office.

“This year alone, the tax rate will be reduced 2.3 percent,” Tracy said. “As a member of the Finance Committee, it is important that I am a watchdog for the county to make sure that spending is kept at a minimum to insure that taxes will continue to be reduced. It is also important to keep the county’s finances in the black and have reserves to continue operations in the future.”

Tracy said the county has also played an important role in helping other units of government with projects they otherwise could not afford.

“I am also very proud of the parks and recreational facilities that have had major improvements made to them during my term. Smaller municipalities would not be able to have the well-maintained parks and equipment without the help of the county. I am proud of the way my district has utilized their park improvements with the grant money I helped to secure,” she said.

Michael believes the No. 1 problem facing the county is rising property taxes.

“Actually, it’s not just me who believes that, but the thousands of citizens I have talked to while out campaigning. Not a single person has ever told me he or she believes the property tax is too low,” Michael said. “Many residents have said that they have strongly considered leaving Madison County because of increasing property taxes.”

I have a strong commitment to hold the line on property taxes, maintain a balanced budget, provide service and assistance to residents and keep Madison County a quality area to raise a family.

Kelly Tracy, Democratic candidate for Madison County Board District 4

And conservatism is the answer, according to Michael, who also proposed no increases in salary for elected positions in the county, term limits for county posts, and reducing the county’s general fund levy by 10 percent. He said District 4 “desperately needs” a fiscal conservative to represent it.

“I believe I am more qualified simply because I am more conservative and finance-minded,” Micheal said.

Tracy said she is not running on an ideology, but on her record.

“If I cannot run on my own record, then I shouldn’t run,” she said.

Tracy said she wants to be a voice for everyone in her district, regardless of party.

“I am continuing my public service on the board so that the people of my district have a true voice to represent them. They deserve to have someone that represents people, not a party. I am very active in the community and always try to represent the people and their opinions, not my own. A public servant should be just that, a servant to their constituents and not have an agenda of their own. People deserve to have a voice on the board, and I give them that,” she said.

Michael said Madison County needs a change in leadership throughout.

“I am a strong believer in term limits for all elected officials,” he said. “Interestingly, the current County Board chairman has been part of the board for 35 years. He was first elected six years before I was even born. It just isn’t right, in my opinion, for people to be in these positions for this long. Other competent people live in Madison County that could effectively represent their districts or serve as chairman.”

About David Michael

Education: Michael graduated with highest honors from the University of Illinois with his bachelor’s in accountancy in 2010, a master’s in accountancy in 2011 from U of I, and subsequently passed the CPA exams.

Work History: A certified public accountant, he is vice president of development and finance at Father McGivney Catholic High School in Glen Carbon.

Volunteerism/Memberships: Michael has spent extensive time serving in Uganda, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Haiti. In 2013, he launched a campaign to build a well next to a school for disabled children in Gonaives, Haiti.

Political Experience: None.

Family: He is the son of Gaye and Susie Michael of Highland, owners of Michael’s Restaurant.

About Kelly Tracy

Education: She is a graduate of Triad High School and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with degrees in mass communications and psychology.

Work History: She is president and owner of Kelly Tracy Ad & Design, which she has operated in her hometown of Marine for 13 years.

Volunteerism/Memberships: She is currently president of the Alhambra Jaycees for a third term, a founder of the Marine/St. Jacob Jaycees, a member of the Marine Lions Club, an associate of the Soil and Water Conservation District, and a local volunteer for many other organizations and events.

Political Experience: Tracy has been on the Madison County Board for nine years and currently serves as chairman of the county’s influential Government Relations Committee, which is charged with working with local municipalities and townships to determine their specific needs. She is also a member of the Finance, Executive, Planning & Development, Transportation, and Parks & Recreation committees, and a member of the Stormwater Commission.

Family: Daughter of Deb and Barry Tracy, sister of Travis Tracy, sister-in-law of Lindsay Tracy, and aunt to Weston and Ruby.

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