Candidate profile: Chris Slusser

NAME: Chris Slusser

AGE: 39

IMMEDIATE FAMILY: Wife: Megan (married 11 years), daughters Annabelle (19 months) and Zoë (6 months)

OCCUPATION: Vice President - R.L.P. Development Company

OFFICE SOUGHT: Madison County Board - District 15


PREVIOUSLY ELECTED POSITIONS: Madison County Board, District 15: 2008-2012

Why are you running for this office?

I believe that our elected leaders should be accountable and engaged on behalf of their constituents. When I previously served on the board, I was an outspoken critic of questionable and wasteful spending, and also sought clarity to some of the processes utilized by our county government. In addition to being a critic, I also like to provide solutions, and some of the ideas I introduced on the County Board greatly improved Madison County government's transparency. I have a very diverse career background: I served as a police officer for three years, as a financial advisor for nine years, and for the past six years, I've worked in the commercial real estate/construction industry. I think my diverse background brings a unique and well-rounded perspective to the various issues that the County Board deals with.

What would be your top priority if elected or re-elected?

My top priority would be to keep property taxes under control and ensure that the budget is lean, but effective in providing the resources necessary to deliver services to our residents.

What other changes or improvements would you seek in this office?

There are still a lot of areas in which the county can streamline services to save money and avoid redundancies. I would also continue my scrutiny of the hiring process of county employees, which seems to be rife with nepotism and cronyism.

Madison County is considering a 5-cent cut to its property tax rate. Are you in favor? Why or why not?

I am in favor of this cut. Our county government, for years, has over-levied anywhere from $2 million to $4 million per year when the County Board passes its annual budget each November. Then, in the December board meetings, the County Board transfers $2-4 million into the Capital Projects fund, which is then used for pet projects that seem to land with contractors who have made campaign contributions to County elected officials. When this referendum passes this November, it won't harm any county agency (including law enforcement) and not a single layoff will occur as a result. What will happen is the County Board will have a smaller annual surplus and the taxpayers will receive a little bit of relief (every little bit helps). My philosophy is: if the county doesn't need the money, then they shouldn't be taking it from the taxpayers. This measure will put power into the peoples' hands for once.

Why should the voters elect you?

In my four years that I served on the County Board (2008-2012), I was very engaged on all of the issues on the County Board, and active in my community. The current incumbent board member has yet to cast a single "no" vote in a County Board meeting, and hasn't even spoken up or asked a single question in a board meeting during his 4 years on the board. I think the voters deserve better representation than that. When I chose not to run for re-election to my seat in 2012, I did remain active in my community, serving on the board at Riverbend Family Ministries in Wood River, and as a deacon, Sunday School teacher and youth basketball coach at First Baptist Church in Bethalto. The voters in my district can be assured that I'm not there to rubber stamp everything that comes before the board, collect my paycheck and go home. In my term on the board, I fulfilled all of my promises that I campaigned on: I voted against all property tax increases and I introduced an amendment to cut property taxes. I voted against all pay raises for elected officials, and I returned my pay raise to the taxpayers. I introduced a measure and led the effort to place Madison County government's checkbook online, so that the public could see where every penny of their tax dollars was being spent. Voters in my district can expect more of the same if I'm elected on November 8th.