Name: Melinda “Mindy” Schneidewind
Office seeking: St. Clair County Board Member District 7
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City of residence: Marissa
Campaign website: None
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I am running because I love the small communities in my district and where I live. My husband and I are raising 3 young boys and, like us, we want them to raise their families here. Our district needs to move forward for this to happen. As a teacher I have learned to be prepared, open to new ideas and how to listen to the needs of my students. I will bring this knowledge and experience to the County Board seat.
St. Clair County’s health fund is $3.3 million in debt, according to its most recent audit. The debt has increased over the last two years. What measures would you support to reduce the debt? Unfortunately, there is a healthcare insurance crisis across America. It affects every State, every County, every municipality, every business, and every person. For example, we saw what happened when the State of Illinois chronically underfunded its pension obligations. Clearly, we can’t allow rising deficits in the insurance plans to continue year after year. That’s why the County sought assistance and advice from an expert consultant to find solutions to these increasing costs. The County is working closely with its consultant and insurance broker on a plan to get a handle on costs. Everything is open for discussion – wellness incentives to help prevent expensive health care problems, stricter contracts with health care providers to control rising costs, revising healthcare plans, and more. I don’t believe the County Board has any intention of allowing this problem to grow without acting, but everyone will need to pitch in to resolve this issue.
What is your position on the oversight of MidAmerica Airport? Would you change anything? If so, what? The Public Building Commission, with collaboration and assistance from the County, has put MidAmerica Airport on the right track. This collaboration and assistance would not have been possible without action taken by the County Board. Thus, the current relationship between the County and the Public Building Commission is working, however, a careful eye by the County Board should be kept on this collaboration to ensure its success. In addition, thanks to Allegiant Airlines, more than 100,000 passengers use the airport every year – the sixth highest in the state. With new tenants such as Boeing, North Bay Produce and AVMATS, the airport has brought good-paying jobs to the area. To have shuttered or mothballed this airport, as some people have suggested, would have made these accomplishments impossible and would have had a far more reaching negative impact on the future growth of St. Clair County as a whole. It’s important that the County and the Public Building Commission continue to work together to promote the growth of MidAmerica Airport and its joint use with Scott Air Force Base, while keeping tight control of expenses.
St. Clair County board meetings last an average of 30 minutes, according to a review of meeting minutes from the last two years. Some committee meetings for the most part last less than 15 minutes. Is this enough time for county board members to conduct county business and earn a $19,419 salary? Why or why not? As a citizen and candidate, I have attended both committee meetings and County Board meetings and have observed and spoke with County Board members from both parties regarding their service as County Board members. The average length of time of committee meetings and County Board meetings is not a good indicator of the workload of a County Board member. Good County Board members are active in their communities—listening to their constituents, attending neighborhood meetings, municipal meetings, and working with local organizations. Members also work closely with County departments to understand the issues and attend department meetings and hearings to assist their constituents through governmental processes. Further, good County Board members work hard to solve constituent problems and concerns – something that takes a great deal of time but is an important part of the job. Thus, there are many hours spent by County Board members outside of committee meetings and County Board meetings serving the public in their elected role as County Board members.
County revenue has been declining in recent years. How should revenues be increased or do services have to be cut? Why? In recent years revenues have been declining and expenses increasing not only for the County but our municipalities and schools. There is no doubt that there are tough times ahead for all forms of government in making choices between services that are needed and services that are not fundamentally necessary. I believe a balance can be struck between increasing revenues and the providing of services. While everyone desires to have increased services without paying anything additional for the increase, we all know such does not and cannot occur. Thus, certain services that are not fundamentally necessary to the public may have to be decreased, if revenues are not increased. Likewise, increasing revenues for services not fundamentally necessary is not beneficial to the citizens of St. Clair County. However, a balance can be achieved, if all factors are considered, to provide those necessary services to the citizens of St. Clair County with an equal focus on increasing revenues, so that all the benefits and impacts are spread evenly amongst the public. A way in which the County Board can look to increase revenues without raising taxes is to grow the local economy of St. Clair County, through combined efforts with Scott Air Force Base, the growth of local established businesses, as well as the growth of new businesses, including professional, industrial, and agri-business.