George Wendt is one of two Republian incuments in a three-way race for the two open District 3 seats on the McLean County Board. (Photo by Beth Whisman/WJBC)
By Beth Whisman
BLOOMINGTON - Republican George Wendt was elected to the McLean County Board in 2008 after the late Mike Sweeney was forced to retire due to health reasons. He's now up for re-election in the new District 3.
Wendt is retired from the Illinosi Department of Labor and has 25 years experience selling life insurance and estate planning. Here is a look at where he stands on local issues:
Wendt says the county needs to redefine how it views revenue, and consider whether every new penny earned needs to be immediately spent. He was vocal during the budget process last fiscal year when the county cut spending in order to fill a budget gap and avoid a property tax increase.
"I questioned the administration on how much we would have to reduce the $78 million budget and it came out to about $90,000," he explained. "After that question, they called all the committees back and they found $126,000 in reductions so last year we didn't have to raise the tax rate."
He's urging the county to do the same thing this year with a $350,000 budget gap.
"My remaining goal after serving four years is to be vigilant on how we're spending our money, making sure we keep our budget in line with the current tax rate and keep our services to the public to the quality that they should be without increasing the tax rate," he added.
Wendt stirred some controversy last summer when he asked for a review of zoning practices because he was worried the county might be missing out on new job and revenue opportunities.
"In particular, the oil and gas industry has tried a couple of different times to come into the county," Wendt explained. "But it has been discouraged because of the way we approach the permit system."
The request sparked a debate about loosening the permit process for fracking -- an extraction method for oil and natural gas that has environmentalists calling for a ban. The Land Use Committee is currently reviewing the idea and the Illinois General Assembly is considering what the rules should be regarding fracking and its byproducts.
Wendt said he wants any busniess that comes here to be environmentallhy safe and worker friendly, but he points out the state regulates those areas.
Meanwhile, Wendt said he is concerned about protecting the local water supply. He said a future, long-term supply is a top priority. He thinks the board is best suited to be a leader in balancing rural and urban needs.
"The county should be aware of protecting the water supply, and obviously we want the smaller communities to get access to the water ... and we don't want situations that would disrupt individual wells," said Wendt.
Wendt is running against fellow incumbent Diane Bostic and Democratic challenger Julie Brandt. He can be reached via email through the county board website.
Beth Whisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.