I was born a farmer. And when you’re born on a farm, working hard and helping out isn’t optional. (Not if you want to eat and sleep under a roof that is) You’re expected to pull your weight, and challenged daily to achieve even more. You learn early on the values of working hard and working smart. Time is as an important a commodity as grain and livestock. And when something needs fixing, you fix it before it becomes a bigger problem.
Agriculture has always been a passion of mine for obvious reasons. Illinois number one industry is agriculture. I was fortunate enough to serve on the Illinois Soy Bean Board, rising to the level of Vice Chairman. My experience in Agriculture and representing farmers on the Commodity Boards give me the knowledge of what we need to do to leverage the power of Illinois number one industry. My most treasured events were the extensive travels to foreign markets for our corn and soybeans. I traveled to China, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Ghana, and Haiti. I saw how the world works and I met many wonderful people, some who have become friends. Besides traveling, we have hosted many countries farming leaders to our farms to see the operations of Illinois agriculture. Through all of these encounters, I learned what we need to do to make the Illinois farmer competitive in feeding the world. We will need to energize Illinois agriculture if we are to grow out of the current mess. The world population is growing by leaps and bounds, and we need to position ourselves now.
My experience in advocating led to a natural interest in governing as a public servant. As county board chairman I manage a complex entity consisting of twenty-four departments, roughly four hundred employees, and a forty million dollar budget. During my time in the chair, we have invested in our property and infrastructure, getting our buildings back in a safe condition for our employees and guests and sending a strong message that Vermilion County takes care of its assets. I have also worked hard to obtain the old Federal Courthouse for use as the Vermilion County offices. The County Annex building will soon become uninhabitable because it’s conjoined to the vacated Bresee Tower. Obtaining the Federal Building will allow us to relocate to a safe, well maintained building that anchors the north downtown area at a minimal cost to the taxpayer. The move also allows us to consolidate departments and offices under one roof to further save taxpayer money. Another investment we have made is to get the County to the forefront of technology. The world is advancing quickly with technology, and we must ensure that our government is safe and keeping up properly for future generations. I believe in transparency and implemented the opengov.com system that shows visitors exactly where their tax money is going. Finally, I have taken great pride in making sure that the County is operating with increased efficiency. I have worked closely with all departments to find savings. The evidence of this is that General Fund expenditures have decreased every year from the previous year for the first two years of my administration. We are also on track to be below the Mendoza Line again for the budget year which ends in December. It has been a team effort by everyone who works for Vermilion County, and I’m glad to be a part of it.
Finally, I have had success in getting a strong consensus on a partisan board. During my tenure, I have been successful working through differences I’ve had with other board members and members of the other party. We have always been able to agree on what will be best for the County, and I have worked hard in cultivating our ideas for the future. My goal is to represent and advocate for the 104th District to bring growth and investment, and to ensure that the State of Illinois lives within its means. Time is a commodity, and it’s running short for the state to clean up its act. I am ready for the challenge and excited for this opportunity.