Oswego Township Candidates Pledge Transparency, Accountability
Feb 07, 2017 08:58AM ● Published by Steven Jack
Brian LeClerq (left) and Dan Koukol are candidates for the position of Oswego Township Supervisor.
The word transparency was on the lips of many of the candidates who participated in a candidate forum hosted by the Oswego Chamber of Commerce Monday night.
Candidates for positions open in the April 4 Oswego Township election promised to provide more open government, saying a more robust township website should be a top priority for the next crop of elected township officials.
All elected township positions will be open in April, and series of controversies starting with the 2015 residency question of Township Highway Commissioner Gary Grosskopf, have brought out a plethora of candidates for the offices of supervisor, highway commissioner, clerk and trustee.
Candidates for Oswego Village Trustee also spoke at the forum. Incumbents Luis Perez, Pam Parr and Judy Sollinger touted their records of recent progress on several fronts in the village, including downtown redevelopment and successfully managing growth.
Trustee candidate Brian Thomas, who ran for the office in 2015, said he’s a fiscal conservative who hopes to curtail what he said is out of control village spending.
In the interest of fairness to all the candidates who either attended Monday night’s forum or completed a chamber candidate questionnaire, the following is a summary of each candidate with information from either their forum or questionnaire responses.
Parr is seeking her second term as village trustee. She was previously a member of the Kendall County Board, and said she has a 30-year history as a community volunteer. She said she believes the village needs to continue the progress made on the economic development front and the village can not return to a “philosophy of no.”
Perez was appointed to the Oswego Village Board and is seeking his first elected term. He is a longtime community volunteer, who served in many capacities in School District 308. Perez said one of his biggest priorities will be to help manage Oswego’s continued growth in a smart way, and continue to help the village continue its record of recent “wins.”
Fellow incumbent Sollinger is 50-year resident of Oswego with an extensive record of community involvement. She is the former village of Oswego Clerk, and is a member of the Oswego Senior Center Board. When asked during the forum about the lack of available downtown parking, Sollinger said that a parking deck should be a part of any development of the old Alexander Lumber lot.
Thomas said the Oswego Village Board is in need of a conservative among its ranks. He claimed the board has engaged in spending too much taxpayer money, and pointed to the planned new $32 million Oswego Police station, Downtown TIF District and the recent village purchase of the Alexander lot. Thomas said his first obligation will be to taxpayers.
Trustee candidate Donnie Soard did not attend or return a questionnaire.
Oswego Township Supervisor
Becker is retired with 35 years of experience in the financial services field. He served for two years on the School District 308 board, and has volunteered his time with numerous community organizations. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Army. If elected as Township Supervisor, Becker said he will commission a financial audit to ensure all township funds are being spent appropriately.
Koukol previously served as a member of the Kendall County Board, and was the chairman of both the county’s Highway and Economic Development Commissions. He’s a lifelong resident of the township. He said as the owner of DK Tractor & Trailer and Midwest Lender Services, he has all the relevant experience for the position. He said one of his top priorities will be to make township government open and accessible to its constituents.
LeClerq is a fifth generation Oswego resident, who previously served for eight years as Oswego Village President. He currently is working with volunteer organizations to bring clean drinking water and housing for orphans in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He said the most important issue in the election is the need for government bodies, including the township, to work together efficiently for the benefit of taxpayers without the need to raise taxes.
Oswego Township Clerk
Holstrom is a current member of the Oswego Planning and Zoning Commission who also has served the the Oswegoland Park District Board an on the board of the Susan M. Kiley Foundation. He worked for 18 years at Oswego Community Bank and currently is employed at Allied First Bank. He said open communication between residents and the Township office is the most important in the race.
Oswego Township Highway Commissioner
Ainsworth is a 40-year resident who is retired. He worked as both a high school coach and civil engineer. He said his biggest priority will be to restore integrity and professionalism to the office of High Commissioner. When asked his opinion of the eventual widening of Wolf’s Crossing Road, he said he likes the way things are today; however, he understands the need and couldn’t see standing in the way of progress.
Cook is a longtime resident of the area, and owns his own electrical contracting company. He currently serves on the board of directors for the National Electrical Contractors Association. He also said he’s running for Highway Commissioner to bring professionalism back to the office.
Grosskopf is a 10-year employee of the Township Highway Department who has lived in the area his entire life. He said his first-hand experience in the office will allow him to continue to bring the high quality service that residents of the Township have come to expect. When asked if he would agree to consolidating Township services with other local units like the village of Oswego or Kendall County, Grosskopf said because Oswego Township is such a large area, that proposal maybe a difficult job for another entity to take on.
Olson is a heavy equipment operator with over 35 years of experience in the construction field. He currently manages a demolition/excavation/trucking company, and can operate all the equipment owned by the Township Highway Department. He said it’s time for the commissioner’s office to move into the 21st century, and he pledged to bring transparency, operating efficiencies and accountability back to the office.
Rogerson is a lifelong resident of Kendall County, and has owned two local businesses. He currently is the owner of Rogerson Drywall Inc. He said he plans to treat the office like a full-time position. When asked about consolidating the office with a local municipality, Rogerson said he would be open to anything that would help save taxpayers money.
Highway Commissioner candidate Jeffrey S. Christiansen did not attend or return a questionnaire.
Oswego Township Trustee
Alexander is retired with over 25 years in the rail transportation industry and as a small business owner. She said she has attended many of the Township meetings in the past two years, and has developed a knowledge of how the taxing body operates. Alexander said the township needs a more informative website and more open bidding on major Township projects.
Jacosbsen has lived in the area for 11 years, and has worked for 10 years as an office manager, managing a $2 million budget. She said the Township needs to re-evaluate the programs and services it offers to its constituents; however, she agreed that senior services should continue to be a top Township priority.
Philpot has worked as a business analyst for Abbott Labs. She also has worked for the last 18 months reviewing the finances of the Township. Philpot said as a Township trustee she will work lower taxes, improve transparency and eliminate “antiquated business practices.” As a mother of two young children, Philpot said she would also be interested in providing more services for the younger generation in addition to continued services to area seniors.
Small is a six time incumbent Township trustee who moved to Boulder Hill in 1976. Small said the Township has avoided upgrading its website in order to keep taxes low for constituents. However, after decreasing the salary of the Highway Commissioner by $40,000, it’s possible there may now be room in the budget to pay for an improved website, he said. Small also said the Township needs to push for Legislation at the state level that would allow the board to discipline elected employees like the Highway Commissioner.
Stanley is the former executive assistant/office manager for House Republican Leader Tom Cross. Stanley touted her experience in township government as the Plainfield Township Assistant Administrator for the past 2.5 years. She said Oswego Township needs to consider updating and expanding its services for the convenience of residents and additional revenue. Plainfield Township offers passport services, which also brings in additional revenue of $25 per passport.
Yackley has been a Township trustee since 1991. He said he is running to provide historical perspective to new members that will be seated on the board in April. His top priority will be to “address inaccurate and false information provided to residents on Township law and activities.
Township Trustee candidate Diane Selmer did not attend or return a questionnaire.