BLOOMINGTON — A candidate slated by the Republican Party after the primary election has prompted a race in McLean County Board’s District 9, which serves residents in south Bloomington.
Incumbents Susan Schafer, 1404 Steeplechase Drive, a Republican, and Democrat Erik Rankin, 2815 Rutherford Drive, face Republican Mark W. Johnson, 5 Clobertin Court, for two open seats.
All three live in Bloomington. The election is Nov. 6.
Schafer, 57, a homemaker, has served on the board two years and said she has tried to educate residents about the county by meeting with neighborhood associations and getting out information on her Facebook page.
She would like to see the county’s tax rate remain the same but that means cutting $350,000 from what she said is already a lean budget.
She is “leaning toward” supporting a proposed 1.5 percent merit increase for non-union county employees.
“We need to make sure incentives make employees want to stay and not go to the private sector,” she said. Schafer also is concerned about water supplies — an issue that “keeps getting buried.”
“Adequate water supplies are very important to growth,” she said. “We need to be proactive.”
Rankin, 35, assistant to the department chairman of politics and government at Illinois State University, has been on the board four years.
He believes water supply is an important issue that should be addressed now rather. “Bloomington-Normal’s growth has slowed but not the pull on water — it’s just getting greater and greater,” he said.
He wants the board to bring in experts to give a “picture of the state of the water table” and would like to see the county work with Bloomington and Normal on the issue.
He also is a proponent of electronic board packets to reduce paper use and supports the 1.5 percent merit raise for employees.
This is the first time Johnson, 41, a claims investigator for Wilber Law Firm, has been a candidate for a board seat. He previously made a bid for the Normal City Council.
“I want to be involved in seeing McLean County be the best it can be,” he said. “I want to be a friend and watchdog for taxpayers.”
He is pro-growth and said the county should do “due diligence and responsible studies” but thinks fracking might be a way to create jobs and “seems as safe as anything else we’re doing out there.”
Johnson also believes the county should prioritize long-term water usage because of the growing population. He does not support fracking if it would have an effect on drilling wells in the future.
He believes there is a need for an eastside highway but “I’m not saying I’m buying into the exact proposal out there.”