Republicans challenged by Democrats for seats in District 2

In Ford County, the only contest is for a pair of seats on the Ford County Board in District 2, where Republicans Cindy Ihrke of rural Roberts and Ann Ihrke of rural Buckley are running against Democrats Marcia Peznowski of Roberts and Lori Reinert of Piper City. Each candidate answered questioned posed by the Ford County Record over the weekend ...

ANN IHRKE

Name:
Ann Ihrke
Age: 75
Address: 1441 N. Ford County Road 1800 East, rural Buckley
Personal: My husband, George, and I have been married for 52 years, and we have three sons and 10 grandchildren. When we retired in 2004, we moved to our farm here in rural Buckley. Our home farm borders the Green Acres Hunt Club, of which we have been part-owners since its inception in 1970.
Employment: Retired speech pathologist and special education school administrator.
Education: I graduated from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign with a degree in speech pathology. I worked in the field for 30 years, and for the last 15 years of my career I was the administrator of a private, Illinois State Board of Education-approved school for children 3 to 21 years old with disabilities. I worked with 13 school districts and supervised 25 teachers and support staff, along with running an integrated day care and a therapeutic horseback-riding program that I initiated.
Interests/hobbies: My husband and I have a love for animals and have spent our lives participating in a hobby, horseback field trialing. We have competed on horseback following our pointing dogs as they hunt for birds. I also enjoy hunting, fishing and the time I spend in our flower and vegetable gardens. Cooking for family and friends is also a joy for me.  I have always had an interest in politics, both nationally, statewide and locally.
Community involvement: Because of my interest in politics, I began to attend many of the Ford County Board meetings, Ford County Republicans meetings and different Ford County committee meetings. I wanted to be an informed citizen and learn about the issues most important to me and to the residents of the County. Previous to moving to Ford County, I was a member of the Exchange Club of Lockport for 15 years, working to enhance many organizations within the community. I was an elected board member of the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association Auxiliary for several years, and I was a liaison for Private School Special Education Administrators with the Illinois State Board of Education. I developed a therapeutic horseback-riding program in the Lockport/Joliet area in the early 1990s that is thriving today, serving individuals with developmental and mental disabilities.
Elected experience: Have not held any elected office to this point.

(1) Why are you seeking election to this office?
I believe strongly that all citizens should take an active part in their government. I believe in an informed citizenry, which allows for an honest government that promotes the values that protect our liberty and freedoms. I would like to pursue avenues that would showcase our county and all the opportunities that are available here. With the World Wide Web and available technology, many businesses could benefit financially by having their headquarters here in Ford County. I want to be a guardian of the quality of life for everyone living in Ford County and ensure those currently living here or those newcomers that I will fight to have this happen.

(2) Why do you feel you are qualified for this position?
I love our country, and I love living in Ford County. I believe in freedom and liberty for everyone and that by electing new persons to serve, new ideas and insights are fostered. Our constitution was founded on the idea that common citizens from all walks of life should give of their time to be part of the government in some capacity, and then return to their lives as citizens. My work responsibilities as head of a department included both financial and human services decisions and the supervision of a large staff. This  gives me a good background for serving on the board.

(3) What are your top priorities if elected? Specifically, what would you like to accomplish?
I think there should be a long-range plan for our county and its direction over the next 20 years. I would also like to encourage more business development in our county. Today, there are many small- to medium-sized Internet-based businesses that would be able to thrive in our area, while taking advantage of lower taxes and a small-town and/or rural environment. I think there are many challenges facing the county, including spending, maintaining services and keeping property taxes affordable. In order to find avenues to spend less, candidates must work with department heads and the board to uncover areas where cost reductions are possible and then work diligently to make the changes.

(4) Do you have any ideas on how you can cut costs while still maintaining existing services, if elected?
I think, if elected, learning about the workings of the various departments and their current budgets will lend itself to ideas for changes. Getting to know the department heads and their needs and ideas is also very important.

(5) Anything to add?
The way our county is laid out, there are many residents who live in the northern-most part. I would like to explore ideas that would allow them to take a more active part in our county government. I welcome their suggestions and ideas as well.

CINDY IHRKE

Name:
Cindy Ihrke
Age: 44
Address: 1458 N. Ford County Road 1700 East, rural Roberts
Personal: I have been married for 21 years to Dan Ihrke. We have three children: Triston, 20, who is attending college at North Dakota State University for engineering; Sage, 18, who is attending Paul Mitchell The School in Bradley for esthetics and makeup artistry; and Liah, 11, who is in the sixth grade.
Employment: My husband and I have managed Green Acres Sportsman’s Club in rural Roberts for the past 20 years. I manage the office and keep the books along with running other daily business operations. 
Education: I have a high school diploma along with my cosmetology license, and I have 21 years of experience running and growing our business.
Interests/hobbies: I enjoy reading, learning new things and researching, outdoor activities, traveling, and home-educating my children.
Community involvement: My family and I are involved with Ford County’s Illinois Pioneer Pheasants Forever Chapter 69.
Elected experience: None

(1) Why are you seeking election to this office? 
At board meetings I have attended, I have noticed quite a few instances where it was apparent that the law and proper procedure were not known or followed. It is also apparent that the law has been twisted to keep citizens out of the governmental process, and I am determined to change that. It is very important to me that the people are able to participate in our government at every level. I want to offer a fresh perspective and new ideas to the county board, and I am at a place in my life that offers me time for the opportunity to represent the people of District 2.

(2) Why do you feel you are qualified for the position?
In running our specialty business for more than 20 years, I have experience with managing income and expenses, budgeting, some general accounting, managing employees, and handling customers and vendors.  We have seen many economic ups and downs and have had to “think outside the box” often to keep our business growing. Also, over the past eight-plus years, I have attended many monthly county board meetings along with some committee meetings. I have been involved in watching our local government and holding them accountable in following the law when necessary.

(3) What are your top priorities if elected? Specifically, what would you like to accomplish?
Top priorities would be to increase government transparency by first making sure the board and other governing bodies have a clear set of rules that are stated and available to the public for running meetings and public comment. These rules must ensure that the citizens have access to information and are able to participate freely and respectfully. Second, I would also like to make sure that each office knows their full duties according to the Illinois Counties Code and Open Meetings Act.
Specifically, I would like to see a balanced budget accomplished and property taxes stabilized and lowered as soon as possible. Keeping taxes low is important to stimulate growth in our county. 

(4) Do you have any ideas on how you can cut costs while still maintaining existing services, if elected?
I would like to explore options for sharing services with our neighboring counties, where possible, to reduce the financial burden on our taxpayers. I am also looking forward to working with department heads to get their ideas on making daily operations more fiscally efficient. I am also open to seeking new innovative ways to provide services at a lower cost to the county. 

(5) Anything to add?
I would like to thank everyone for the kindness and support through the last couple of weeks. I believe in the Constitution of the United States and the individual rights that are protected by that document. I am excited for this new opportunity to represent the residents in District 2 if I am elected.

LORI REINERT

Name:
Lori Reinert
Age: 60
Address: 20 W. Oak St., P.O. Box 51, Piper City.
Personal: Single
Employment: Registered nurse, self-employed medical device trainer.
Education: AAS-RN from Joliet Junior College,  BS in health arts from the University of St. Francis.
Interests/hobbies: Gardening, sewing, crocheting, reading, traveling.
Community involvement: Education/mentoring RN colleagues, healthcare-based volunteer work.
 
(1) Why are you seeking election to this office? 
Elections should be based on choices between candidates. As the ballot in Ford County generally does not offer a choice, I felt a need to join the race, to offer an alternative to a straight-Republican ticket.

(2) Why do you feel you are qualified for the position? 
My qualifications include a career based on critical thinking and prioritization of needs, based within a financially limiting framework. As a hospital-based RN case manager, it was my job to know choices available for healthcare, and to review these options with patients, to empower personal decision-making. I frequently found that education regarding options helped people make choices that made them feel comfortable.

(3) What are your top priorities if elected? Specifically, what would you like to accomplish? 
Priorities would include focusing on realistic benefits for all Ford County residents that would present a clear understanding of cost/benefit analysis. I would work toward better awareness of issues facing the board, and an improvement of making board decisions available to the public. I would also like to see opportunities to engage Ford County residents in participating in improving quality-of-life issues for Ford County.

(4) Do you have any ideas on how you can cut costs while still maintaining existing services, if elected?  
While I have reviewed the current budget proposal, there may be areas for improvement for more effective ways to distribute these budget cuts, and this will certainly be a priority, if elected.

MARCIA PEZNOWSKI

Name:
Marcia Peznowski
Age: 68
Address: 102 S. Walnut St., Roberts (Lived there 17 years)
Personal: Widowed with five adult children and three grandchildren.
Employment: Currently serving as the multi-township assessor for Lyman, Wall, Peach Orchard, Sullivant, Dix and Drummer townships. Also employed part time at the Vermilion Valley Bank’s Roberts branch.
Education: Bachelor of science degree in legal studies from Kaplan University (now Purdue Global). Graduated summa cum laude.
Interests/hobbies: Gardening, pets, reading, crocheting and crafts.
Community Involvement: Ford County Board of Health member. Court-appointed special advocate (CASA) in Champaign County. Member of the Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau and the American Legion Auxiliary Wagner-Davis Post 641 in Roberts. Advocate-at-large for foster care, adoption and mental health issues.

(1) Why are you seeking election to this office?  
I enjoy public service and want to give people a choice for county board in District 2.

(2) Why do you feel you are qualified for the position? 
I have been involved in local government since 1988 when I began working for Orland Township government in Cook County. After moving to Ford County, I became the multi-township assessor for District 2 in 2002. I worked for the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department, and subsequently the Ford County Public Health Department. While there is plenty left to learn, I believe I have a good understanding of how government works, as well as the specific needs of the people of Ford County, especially those of us in the rural districts. Serving a community is a privilege and is a noble calling, if you do it well. I want to see Ford County continue to be a wonderful place to live, a viable place to work, a great place to raise a family, and a safe place to retire.

(3) What are your top priorities if elected? Specifically, what would you like to accomplish?
I would like to have more transparency in county government. It isn’t so difficult to podcast board meetings. Our community should be able to know not only who represents us, but how they represent us.  Familiarity enhances approachability and accountability. I would like to put more effort into the health and safety of our residents, as well by expanding programs at the public health department and the sheriff’s department. Frequently, the county board is called upon to make fair and just decisions on extremely complicated issues. I have concerns about legal representation for our county board and other departments (zoning, for example), and I believe we would benefit from having an assistant to our state’s attorney who could specialize in legal counsel on county matters.

(4) Do you have any ideas on how you can cut costs while still maintaining existing services, if elected? 
I think the current board has  done as much as possible to cut costs where possible or keep costs as low as possible. Budgetary constraints have made it necessary for all departments to be pared to the bone already.  There isn’t a single area of county government that couldn’t use more personnel or improved technology.

(5) Anything to add? 
Common sense and civility go a long way toward solving difficult issues and moving everyone in a positive direction.  I welcome input from the community and will provide honest representation.
 

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