There are two Scott County Board of Supervisors seats up for grabs in this year's election. Voters who want a supervisor who actually supervises and reads the materials being presented prior to a vote would do well to give Jesse Anderson's candidacy some serious consideration, regardless of your political affiliation. With experience and age, wisdom and knowledge should logically follow. Not so with the Scott County Board of Supervisors and how it has conducted business over the past several years, especially relative to big issues that impact all taxpayers in Scott County.
When the Smart Planning Principles resolution was adopted in February of 2011, all the supervisors, before adopting the guidelines proposed by the state in Senate Bill 2389, admitted they had not even read the legislation prior to approving it (RCReader.com/y/smartplanning).
Most people don't pay attention to the consolidated dispatching entity known as SECC 911, but if your property taxes went up, you can thank, in part, this $24-million project, which still has not achieved consolidated dispatching in Scott County. You can especially thank two of the incumbents on the ballot this year, Tom Sunderbruch and Jim Hancock, for helping usher in a new taxing authority (a.k.a. a new layer of government) that has an unlimited ability to tax as much as that new board sees fit. Never mind that the project was sold as a tax-saving measure and as a necessary efficiency - neither of which has been achieved.
Expense budgets are not made available for public review before hearings; supervisors pay analysts to read them and advise them about their content, and to make recommendations on whether to approve - in other words, to do the tasks the supervisors should be doing themselves. These county politicians are so entrenched, they give little thought to transparency, or to accountability when residents seek answers.
This lack of engagement is illustrative that taxpayers do not have supervisors who supervise in Scott County. Instead we have supervisors who rubber-stamp most of what staff puts before them, including the annual operating budget. The mantra one will hear from this board, nearly in unison, is: "We will do what allows our people to have the quality of life that we think they should have."
When pressed about their oaths of office, and how they dictate that the board shall protect each individual's right to determine his/her own quality of life, the response from one of the incumbent candidates was: "That world does not exist."
It's time for some new blood. Jim Hancock has been on the board for 20 years. Tom Sunderbruch has been on the county board for 12 years. If we had engaged, involved, and informed decision-making by these two, we wouldn't have expenditures that have doubled in the past 10 years and property taxes that have doubled in the past 10 years, while we have a population that has only grown slightly more than 5 percent in the same amount of time.
At a recent candidate forum, both Sunderbruch and Hancock repeated over and over: "We need more revenue, more revenue, more resources." The tail is clearly wagging the dog here. In their world, the public is here to serve the needs of the ever-growing county government. In their world, the public must accommodate the double standards for zoning that would have helped the board fast-track the fertilizer company if it had not chosen to go elsewhere. (The lack of transparency and back-room dealing for that boondoggle have been widely publicized.)
So nowhere is there ever a discussion of cutting expenses, tightening one's belt, making do with less, much like nearly every private business and family in Scott County has had to do during this recession. At the candidate forum, the two incumbents lauded the fiscal health of the county budget, "if you take out the SECC 911 and the new county jail." Did you take out those two line items when it came time to increase our property taxes?
Fortunately, we have a candidate who is very serious about doing things much differently in county government, and that is Jesse Anderson. He has attended many county-board meetings over the past several years, studying the processes and players. He has testified at important public hearings, including the Sustainability Plan hearing where, after researching what was being voted on, he pointed out that the very building-code standards their plan would adopt would preclude each one of the supervisors' homes from being built (RCReader.com/y/sustain).
Jesse has worked in the hospitality and restaurant business and in the manufacturing sector for his family-owned business, and he is self-employed as a graphic artist and marketer. He graduated from Augustana College with a degree in public administration and political science. And he has lived in both rural and urban settings in Scott County, giving him a wide-ranging perspective on life in Scott County.
Jesse has outlined more than 20 principles and action steps he would take as a supervisor to actually supervise and uphold his oath of office at his Web site VoteJesse.com. Whether you take the time to consider all the non-standard things he promises to do (e.g., get board meetings broadcast or at least recorded for the public and document his reasoning for every vote at his blog) or not, please take away from this endorsement that at least Jesse will read before he votes. That's how low the bar is in Scott County. Let's help Jesse raise that bar.