BLOOMINGTON — A District 87 school board member is challenging two incumbents for one of two open seats on McLean County Board District 10.
The district serves residents in east Bloomington-Normal. The election is Nov. 6.
Incumbent Republicans Benjamin Owens, 31, of 3207 Winchester Drive, who has served 12 years on the board, and Chuck Erickson, 46, of 1 Andy Court, who is seeking his first term after being appointed in June 2011, face Democrat Michael Harrison, 53, of 510 Chelsea Drive. All are from Bloomington.
Owens, part owner of B.J.’s Restoration, is chairman of the finance committee. He would like to keep the tax rate at its current level and supports dipping into reserves if budget cuts fall short of the $350,000 target. He also is in favor of the proposed merit increase for county employees.
Owens wants the county to consider alternatives to save money, such as possibly changing to 12-hour work shifts at the McLean County Nursing Home and asking voters to eliminate an elected auditor’s office in favor of an appointed position.
He believes the county should continue its financial support for the Economic Development Council of the Bloomington-Normal area, citing its strides in helping bring air carriers to the Central Illinois Regional Airport.
Erickson, a civil attorney, wants to “maintain the tradition of keeping the county fiscally conservative.”
He said the board owes it to taxpayers to try and keep the tax rate at the current level but he also believes county employees should be paid a sufficient salary so they don’t seek other employment.
“When I’ve been talking and listening to constituents, the one thing I universally hear is that they think taxes are too high,” he said. “I’m always on guard to keep taxes as low as can be.”
Erickson said most people want a job and want to work so the county should try to do what it can in the area of economic development.
“If we have economic development and jobs, we get tax revenue,” he said. “We need to create an environment where businesses can flourish in McLean County.”
Harrison, a procurement specialist at State Farm Insurance Cos., is a member of the District 87 school board but this is his first attempt for a seat on the McLean County Board.
He said the board has an imbalance of political parties. “All parties need to be represented,” he said.
Harrison is “passionate about youth” and believes the county should make youth aware of the opportunities in the area so they will make it their permanent home.
The county should be smart about expansion and growth, he said, and thoroughly investigate fracking before making a decision.