Benjamin Owens was first elected to the McLean County Board in 2000. (Photo courtesy of Benjamin Owens)
By Stephanie Pawlowski
BLOOMINGTON - There are two Republican incumbents and one Democratic challenger seeking McLean County Board District 10. Benjamin Owens is one of those Republican incumbents. He was first elected to the county board in 2000 and he has a strong focus on the budget. He chairs the Finance Committee. He is also part owner of B.J.'s Restoration.
Here is where Owens stands on some of the issues facing McLean County.
The projected budget shortfall next year is $305,000, but Owens said he thinks the county board will be able to close that.
"Look at ways of cutting down our costs and that is one issue that is on the ballot is the Recorders office and merging that in with the county clerk's office," Owens said. "There's also been discussion with what should we do with the auditor's office. Is that another option of making it an appointed position?"
Owens said he thinks the county employees are the biggest asset and he wants to recognize them with the proposed 1.5 percent increase next year.
One issue Owens is not so sure about is fracking and what the county should do. Fracking is the process of extracting oil and gas from underground using water or chemicals.
Owens said he doesn't have enough information to say if he is for or against it.
"I would say I would look at what the zoning laws are and going through the process and making sure that the zoning issues and policies are followed. If they need to be updated, let's look at them and update them," Owens said.
Owens has a split opinion on the proposed Eastside Highway. District 10 runs along the proposed Eastside Highway route. Owens likes the idea.
"I support the economic development that it could bring, especially being so close to our airport and making sure it's a better way of getting to the airport," Owens said.
But, he doesn't support the project right now because he said the majority of the constituents he's talked to are against it.
"Plus, if it's built, who's going to take care of it. The funding of that, most of the time, would come back to the county," Owens said.
Stephanie Pawlowski can be reached at Stephanie.Pawlowski@Cumulus.com.