Name: Jerry Dinges
Office seeking: St. Clair County Board District 11
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City of residence: Belleville
Campaign website: None
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I’m running for reelection to the county board because I know my district, I know the families who live here and depend on me. They know if they have a problem that I’ll take care of it. So I feel a strong commitment to the families in my district and want to continue to serve them.
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? I’m a small business owner and I know that healthcare and healthcare insurance is rising. It has been for a while. As a county board member, I’ve seen how one or two employees with catastrophic illnesses can increase the insurance cost for the county. Healthcare costs can fluctuate. We’ve looked to consultants to specialize in containing healthcare insurance costs in our efforts to lower this debt. We take this very seriously and are committed to giving our county employees the kind of quality healthcare they deserve but continue to look at ways to do this while cutting costs.
What is your position on the oversight of MidAmerica Airport? Would you change anything? If so, what? I think the news out of MidAmerica is very positive. The airport was named by IDOT as the 2018 Primary Airport of the Year and for good reason — they broke their record with 300,000 passengers this year. I think that’s pretty impressive and believe the airport manager and the team he has assembled are producing good results. MidAmerica plays such an important role in keeping Scott Air Force Base open and obviously, that is crucial to our local economy.
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? The length of a county board meeting has a lot to do with what’s on the agenda. We don’t control that. Every member has an opportunity to speak, to ask questions and call for a discussion of the issue when needed. I either chair or am a member of five committees. As a chairman, I try to make sure members have all the information they need ahead of time and are prepared to discuss any issue brought before the committee. The length of the meetings, like the board meetings, is based on agenda items. Like any elected official, I am always on the job. Constituents have questions, need help and I’m there — anytime and anywhere. I am always well-prepared for board meetings and committee meetings, reviewing the packets sent out ahead of time. Packets that can be several inches thick with information to read! Good county board members do the work and do it quietly without drawing attention to themselves.
County revenue has been declining in recent years. How should revenues be increased or do services have to be cut? Why? I serve as vice-chairman of the economic development committee on the board. So I know what is being done to bring more revenue to St. Clair County. And as a small business owner for over 57 years, I know the importance of retaining businesses like mine and looking to bring new ones to our area. It’s how we grow the economy and our revenues.
Residents expect service from their government and I believe we don’t have to cut services to save dollars. There are today, fewer employees at the county than there were ten years ago. When an employee retires, we don’t fill his/her position, unless it’s necessary. That saves money without cutting a service. If you look at the different departments at the county, you’ll see they provide good service even though there are fewer people doing it.