Candidate Profile: Ken Easterley

Ken Easterley
Ken Easterley

Name: Ken Easterley

Age: 69

Family: Wife, Carol, and three daughters

Occupation: Retired captain, Illinois Secretary of State Police. Current St. Clair County Board member

Office sought: St. Clair County Board District 8

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Previous Elected positions: Belleville Fourth Ward Alderman for eight years

Why are you running?: I am running for re-election to the County Board to continue to represent the citizens of Belleville’s West End. My wife and I have lived here for 32 years and know what a great place this is to live. I am committed to this area and these neighborhoods. As a former law enforcement officer, I am focused on public safety issues, including making certain the sheriff’s department has the resources and training needed to protect our communities. However, safety doesn’t just come from police patrols — it comes from strong neighborhoods where people care about each other and watch out for each other. That’s what I love about the West End and that’s what I want to help preserve and protect.

What is the biggest issue facing St. Clair County, and how should elected officials and county staff approach it?: One of the biggest issues that the county faces is unfunded state and federal mandates. At the county level, we are fiscally conservative, demanding balanced budgets and working to keep the county’s share of tax rates down. These mandates are budget busters. It’s wrong when state and federal governments place requirements on the county but don’t provide the funding to pay for those requirements. Unfortunately the county is bound by law to fund the mandates. Our careful budget controls and financial management are undermined because they shift the burden of their decisions to us and to local taxpayers. We have worked with our local legislators to demand an end to unfunded mandates, and we need to continue to work together to insist to our federal and state leaders that they stop this practice.

What are your views on MidAmerica Airport, and how should the county handle the future of the airport?: I support MidAmerica and the role it plays in our local economy and in protecting the future of Scott Air Force Base. What the county has done for the past 12 years is just remarkable, attracting new businesses and new jobs, like Boeing and North Bay Produce and bringing in Allegiant Airlines. On the issue of the County Board taking control of daily and fiscal operations of the airport — this idea just will not work. The current management board that oversees the operation and financial matters of the airport are very capable and experienced. It’s ridiculous for 12 airport employees to answer to 29 County Board bosses.

What improvements do you want to see in how the county is run?: I strongly support the movement to make the county more efficient. We have reduced jobs by more than 10 percent while still maintaining high-quality services. As we adopt new technology and continue to find ways to do what we do better, I think we can continue to be more cost effective. I also support the effort to make county government more transparent. Putting the county checkbook and property tax assessments online is a good start and we need to continue to find ways to make government open and accountable to the public. Finally, one of the things I feel strongly about is the need to put customer service first in our county offices. All of our employees need to understand that their first job is to provide friendly, quality service to the people of this county.

Do you plan to serve the full term of office?: Yes, I will serve the full term.

Why should people vote for you?: The strength I bring to this position is the experience of 30 years in law enforcement combined with 20 years in public service as an alderman and a County Board member. That background gives me the knowledge and skills to help move the county forward. Also as a veteran in the U.S.N. Seabees, I served two tours in Vietnam, I understand the needs of area veterans and have worked to ensure St. Clair County’s veterans get the services they need and deserve. In addition, I hold a degree in Criminal Justice, was chosen to attend the National FBI Academy at Quantico, and was director of the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force for 10 years. I’d also add that I have represented my County Board district well. My constituents know they can count on me to represent their issues and to get things done for our area. I’m proud to be a public servant and would like to the opportunity to continue to serve St. Clair County.