2012 election candidate questionnaire: Tracy Luchik, Champaign County Board District 5
Occupation: English teacher at Urbana Middle School for 16 years.
Political experience: Political action chairwoman for Urbana Education Association and former president of Urbana Education Association.
1. What do you believe is the biggest problem in Champaign County government now, and what can you, as a single county board member, do about it?
We need to make sure that our county government continues to work in an accountable, fiscally responsible, and bipartisan way. The current trend of balanced budgets while still maintaining crucial services is one I hope to continue to work on. As a single member, I can work to hold all aspects of county government accountable to the people I serve and help keep board meetings focused on the issues and not any particular political party.
2. What county services currently offered should be eliminated or reduced?
I believe the county is already at a bare minimum of service. In fact, most people who use those services often feel that more staff might reduce wait times in county offices.
3. What services should the county provide that it does not offer now?
I would like to see an increase in the county budget for road improvements, drainage maintenance, and bridge inspection.
4. Are there circumstances under which you would vote for another increase in property taxes to support the operation of the Champaign County Nursing Home?
I believe that the nursing home is currently on the road to fiscal soundness. Most of its problems relate to lack of payment from the state for Medicaid patients. I do not foresee the need to increase the tax levy for the nursing home.
5. Are there circumstances under which you would vote to sell or close the Champaign County Nursing Home?
I would never vote to sell or close the nursing home. It is a vital community service that the people have clearly decided they want and need.
6. Do you believe the downtown jail should be closed as soon as possible?If so, do you think an addition would be needed to the satellite (east Urbana) jail?
Without more clear data, no final decision can be made. However, I do support equal facilities and services for male and female inmates, and there can be long run cost savings found in consolidation of locations. I would need to see a clear plan on how to use or develop the old downtown jail. If it is a danger to inmates or especially staff and deputies, it will need to be closed.
7. What can the county board do to enhance economic development?
Roads and county infrastructure are two of the main ways the county board can help local development. Builders and concrete manufacturers receive the initial money, while other businesses benefit from the finished product. We can also make sure that zoning laws are flexible enough to serve new and innovative business ideas. Tax burdens can also be shifted from local small business to larger out-of-state business.
8. Does Champaign County need a building code?
In areas where there is no city or municipal code, it is the responsibility of the county board to ensure minimal public safety in buildings, especially those which are businesses open to the public or which employ residents of the county.
9. Should the county or the county board do anything about a coal mine proposed for the Homer area?
That is rarely within the purview of the county board. However, I believe that we should, as a general rule, encourage clean, renewable, and sustainable energy sources whenever possible. We should encourage the economies of the future more than the economies of the past.
10. Are there county offices that you believe can be eliminated or consolidated?
I think that consolidation of the responsibilities of the county clerk and county recorder's office could be considered, but I am not convinced either way. I also think that if we do consolidate those offices, we should consider a county board of elections rather than have a partisan clerk handle voting in Champaign County.