2012 election candidate questionnaire: Sher Hampel, Champaign County Board District 8
314 Wheaton Ave., C.
Occupation: self-employed; family business
Political experience: Champaign City Council Member at-large (1999-2003); Republican precinct committeewoman (1994-2004, 2012); unsuccessful candidate for county board in 2010.
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?
The county nursing home's financial standing as a stand alone entity is what I have my eye on. As a single county board member I would educate myself by doing independent research and share my findings with my caucus. Anything that could be done would be done by all county board members working together for the good of the county and its nursing home, its residents and its employees.
2. What county services currently offered should be eliminated or reduced?
I do not have a prejudice toward any current service provided by the county. The age-old question of what is the purpose of government might serve as a starting point in this context but then again printed space and time to debate that question is short.
3. What services should the county provide that it does not offer now?
I do not have a preconceived agenda for implementing any new county service(s). I'm more interested in following the money in light of limited government, accountability and transparency.
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?
None that come to mind. I oppose tax increases, borrowing beyond the county's means, and overspending. I do support building up and reserving a rainy day fund to use for maintenance of existing infrastructure.
5. Are there circumstances under which you would vote to sell or close the Champaign County Nursing Home?
There are many factors that all have to do with availability of money that might tip the balance where the county board is forced to take the extreme of closing the facility. Selling the nursing home option is off the table since putting a referendum on the November ballot was defeated. The state is 60 days late typically and some payments are 90 days late. The county has debt on the facility and no doubt other variables may be brought to light as the county board takes a good hard look at why it is in the nursing home business and how long or if it can be sustained.
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?
I support the concept of a needs assessment and related issues but I would not have voted for the company that won the board's vote recently. I would have expected a more complete package; in my opinion, the county will have to finish the "study" in house or hire yet another professional group to fit the RFP result into the existing infrastructure or answer the questions that have been on the table for a long time: close downtown, add on to the satellite or remodel both, etc.
7. What can the county board do to enhance economic development?
I submit that county government best promotes a friendly business environment by not "interfering with free enterprise and free markets, allowing local businesses to stay competitive."
1. I believe in the principle that when the individual prospers the family prospers; when the family prospers the city (county), state, and nation prospers.
2. Government at all levels best serves the citizens when it has "a built-in bias toward lowering taxes, allowing citizens to keep more of what they earn" and generally not passing regulations that hinder individuals and businesses from prospering to the highest degree of their God-given abilities.
8. Does Champaign County need a building code?
No; state law already requires that owners and contractors comply with a building code for commercial and residential new construction, additions, and remodeling in unincorporated areas of the county. Therefore, the county does not need to adopt a separate building code. The county's Land Resource Management Plan (LRMP), under Goal 6 Public Health and Public Safety, Objectives 6.2 & 6.3 point to 2015 as that time when the county will be prepared to adopt and enforce a building code for non-agricultural construction and public assembly land uses in the unincorporated area. I'll be taking a close look at the LRMP goals, objectives and policies to be certain that property rights are not infringed
9. Should the county or the county board do anything about a coal mine proposed for the Homer area?
No; the state has jurisdiction and enforces regulations regarding mining and minerals. The county zoning ordinance does not regulate underground activities, only "industrial" aspects on the surface within Champaign County. The county's Land Resource Management Plan (LRMP), under Goal 8 Natural Resources, Objectives 8.3 & 8.9 point to 2016-2020 as the timeframe for a Natural Resources Assessment System to be in place; "a technical framework to numerically rank land parcels based on local resource evaluation and site considerations, including...mineral resources." Again, weighing the balance between private property rights and overall public protection would have to be worked out.
10. Are there county offices that you believe can be eliminated or consolidated?
No; within the past few years, the county board did a full review of the elected countywide offices looking for opportunities to combine positions where feasible. The result of that inquiry and review was to continue these offices as currently operated in order to maintain good service for county residents and a functional work environment for county employees.