Lake County Board District 6 member John Wasik, a Democrat, touts environmental and infrastructure achievements as voters cast their ballots this fall, while his Republican opponent Justin Kaechele challenges county spending and criticizes Wasik for his support for a Democratic agenda that he says is better suited. Chicago rather than Lake County residents.
Kaechele is a health information technology sales consultant, while Wasik is an author and journalist who contributes regularly to Forbes. Kaechele, too, dabbled in journalism, working as a freelancer for The Journal & Topics, a newspaper in the inner northwest suburbs, over the past year.
Both candidates stressed their desire to reduce the property tax burden on residents, but Kaechele criticized Wasik for supporting a four-cent-per-gallon gas tax that Lake County Council voted to enact. in 2021.
Wasik said he believes the tax has been an important source of revenue as Lake County officials try to address a backlog of about $1.5 billion in infrastructure projects, many of which are improvements of roads.
“We still need to repair infrastructure in many areas,” Wasik said. “We have a billion dollars in road repairs that we need to do, we need to upgrade a lot of roads that have never been updated in Lake County and we need to move forward on these things.”
Kaechele, who grew up in the Buffalo Grove area, said he was disappointed when he returned to find the Lake County Council was controlled by a Democratic supermajority and doesn’t like the “ideologically” behavior of the advice.
“I think Springfield just has a role in our politics like never before,” Kaechele said. “That balance of power happens when this party is cut off from that, really from the Democratic machine in Chicago where it can make decisions independently.”
He hit out at Wasik for voting frequently according to the Democratic caucus, which currently holds 15 of the 21 seats on the board. After the November election and redistricting, the Lake County Board will consist of 19 members.
“They can’t really think independently as a Democrat; you have to be in the party line,” Kaechele said. “Having this balance of power allows us to have more freedom to be able to govern our region more responsibly and as we want.”
District 6 includes Grayslake, Hainesville, Third Lake, sections of Round Lake, Round Lake Park, and a small piece of Wildwood in unincorporated Grayslake.
Wasik said he had been working on a proposal to put an underpass under the Canadian National Railway on Route 120 and near Route 83, which would reduce traffic congestion, and that he and the senator Melinda Bush landed around $30 million. Lake County does not have right-of-way authority at the crossing, but said it has asked the Illinois Department of Transportation to greenlight engineering studies to see how a project could be done. .
He also pointed to the county’s efforts to secure state funding to add overpasses on both sides of Hainesville Road to allow pedestrians or cyclists to navigate it safely, and also referenced a grant from $2.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund a water system upgrade for residents who live near Highland Lake in Avon Township near Hainesville Road.
Wasik said, “Climate change is an existential threat to our existence on the planet” and can be addressed on a “hyperlocal level,” referring to Lake County’s plan to reduce its carbon footprint to zero d ‘by 2040’ plan existed before Democrats took control of the county council in 2018 and also reiterated its support for the expansion of county carbon credits.
“(We) are installing solar panels on nine buildings in the county so we can generate our own electricity,” Wasik said. “We have facilitated the financing of energy improvements by companies, it’s called the CPACE law.”
Kaechele said Wasik’s priorities run counter to what voters tell him they want.
“For the gas tax, vote against the will of the people,” Kaechele said. “(Council) had an option for a compromise on the burning ban, and they didn’t even give it (a chance).”
Kaechele said most voters in the district aren’t concerned about open burning restrictions in unincorporated areas, which Wasik backed but said some were upset about. He also said disabled or older residents may have difficulty dealing with the elimination of their leave.
“If John was very passionate about banning burning, then he would remove burning leaves from the forest reserve,” Kaechele said. “We had last year it was basically snowing on us ash from the forest reserve nearby. The forest reserve can burn whatever it takes, but they took the right (from the residents).”
Wasik expressed concern about rising energy prices and pointed out that residents who are able to put in place alternative energy sources, such as solar panels, can insulate themselves from cost increases. over which they have no control.
“I would like to extend that to everyone,” he said.
Kaechele said he would be more available to voters than Wasik and added that he would like to move county council meetings to evenings to allow more community members to attend. He said if that doesn’t work out, he’d like to hold a monthly meeting for residents to share their thoughts on the council’s agenda for the county meeting before it’s held.
“I can’t think of a single instance where (Wasik) decided to go to the Republican side, so he’s really a rubber stamp for Sandy Hart regardless of their agenda,” Kaechele said.
Kaechele said that during his time knocking on doors in District 6, “no one knows (Wasik)” and that he heard other Democratic officials say they told Wasik he needed to “get out more “.
Wasik said “I work with everyone” and added that he is “dedicated to hyperlocal issues, to making our communities safe and sustainable in every way, and that includes economic sustainability.”