Will County executive’s race a tale of two counties
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org October 24, 2012 5:40PM
Name: Cory Singer
Office seeking: Will County Chief Executive Officer
Political affiliation: Republican
Occupation/Employer: Singer and Associates, business growth and development consultant.
Educational background: Bachelor’s degree, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb.
Civic, professional, fraternal organization memberships: American Red Cross volunteer; Boy Scouts Pack 270 and Parkview Christian Church.
Other political, government experience: Will County Board member since 2002; current president of the Will County Forest Preserve District.
Five biggest campaign contributors: Otto Engineering, Inc., $10,000; Beary Landscaping, $6,750; Uline Industries, $5,000; Elizabeth Uihlein, $5,000; MBI, $5,000.
Estimated campaign budget: $95,000.
Updated: November 27, 2012 10:40AM
The race for Will County executive features two veteran politicians who have different takes on how things are going in county government.
Incumbent Larry Walsh, (D-Elwood) who is finishing his second term in office and is a former state senator, believes he has done a good job because the county’s budget is balanced, taxes haven’t risen in several years and an RTA tax is paying for millions of dollars in “Build Will” roadwork.
“We have been able to pay all of our bills, meet all of our obligations and yet we still have increased our cash reserves,” Walsh said.
Challenger Cory Singer (R-Frankfort) who has been a county board member for 10 years and is president of the Will County Forest Preserve District, said Walsh has proposed property tax increases for past budgets that the county board had to quash or lower.
“As the county executive, I won’t raise taxes,” Singer said. “We don’t have a revenue issue, we have a leadership issue.”
Singer said half of the RTA tax increase that is funding county roadwork goes to Cook County, a compromise Walsh shouldn’t have made.
“He’s happy we get half,” Singer said. “He looks at that as leadership. I look at that as a failure.”
Singer, who said he reduced the forest preserve district budget by 7 percent, said he would look through the county budget for areas that could be cut. He cited the land use department as a possible cost-saving area because of the decline in building during the recession.
But Walsh said the land use department is down from 60 employees to 40. Singer would know that “if he would walk around a little bit and view some of the offices and departments,” Walsh said.
He also noted that Singer headed a committee that spent $400,000 on a study to look for new sources of revenue for roadwork, but nothing ever came of it.
Singer said county unemployment and tax bills are still too high and yet the county only invests .00024 percent of its budget on economic development. More money is spent on bathroom tissue for the county than economic development, Singer said.
“What you spend your money on shows what you value the most,” he said.
Walsh said the $100,000 the county gives the Will County Center for Economic Development every year is a cost-effective way to get results.
“Cory has been on the county board for 10 years,” Walsh added. “What has he done in 10 years” toward economic development?
South Suburban Airport
Walsh said he favors a public-private partnership to create the proposed south suburban airport near Peotone as long as the Federal Aviation Administration says the project is needed. But he knows the actual airport is a long way off, and it will start out small and grow if needed.
“Do we think we’re going to open the gates and we’re going to have a O’Hare II out there? Absolutely not.”
Singer said he favors a smaller cargo airport be built near Peotone instead of a large passenger facility. He has criticized Will County Democrats for not doing enough to protect the county’s interests in the airport project as they vied for control of the project with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., (D-2nd).
Singer said local Democrats, including Walsh, should withdraw support for Jackson, who reportedly is facing two federal probes and is receiving treatment for bipolar depression.
“What role do I have in telling Jesse Jackson Jr. to get out of the race?” Walsh said. “I have enough problems and issues that I have to deal with every day.”
Singer, who has been the aggressor in the race, has been critical of Walsh for having multiple family members working in government jobs. For instance, Walsh’s son, Larry Walsh Jr. was recently appointed a state representative. And Walsh’s sister works for the Will County coroner’s office. Singer said Walsh’s relatives earn a total of about $700,000 in public jobs.
“Nearly every one of his kids’ spouses has a government job,” Singer said. “It didn’t happen by accident.”
Walsh said many of the jobs his family members hold were positions obtained before Walsh was elected county executive. For instance, Walsh said his sister was hired by a Republican coroner more than 20 years ago.
“Are my family members not qualified to apply for a job opening or accept a job opening that comes from somebody?” he said.
Appeal to voters
Singer said voters should vote for him because Walsh is part of an old-fashioned style of politics more commonly found in Chicago or Cook County.
“It’s about the politics of yesterday versus the politics of tomorrow,” Singer said.
Walsh said he has made good on his original promise to voters.
“Eight years ago, I came on board and stated I was going to be an full-time executive,” Walsh said. “The job demanded it and taxpayers should expect it. I think I have more than accomplished that.”