The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking election for the Cook County Board of Commissioners in the 3rd District a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the district and county.
Republican party candidate George Blakemore submitted the following responses on Oct. 13. He faces Democrat Bill Lowry in the November election.
Cook County has cut its spending and probably will pass a budget that includes no new revenues. Given the county government’s resources and responsibilities, what else would you do to cut or to generate sustainable revenues? How much would money would that save or generate? Are you willing to vote for new taxes or fees? Please be specific.
Blakemore: I do not support additional taxes. I believe additional revenue can be obtained increased efficiency and pooling resources. The hospital and County have duplication of service like Human Resources and the Finance Department that can be consolidated to save money.
The Cook County Health and Hospitals System lost out on some $165 million in revenue over three years because of lax clerical procedures and errors, according to report last spring by the county inspector general. What would you do to end this kind of waste?
Blakemore: To shore up revenues I would make continuing education mandatory in area such as coding and billing for key staff including doctors.
What should the County Board’s role be in assisting economically depressed areas in the south suburbs? Should the county sheriff take over policing responsibilities in more suburbs that are struggling to maintain police protection?
Blakemore: For the sake of public safety richer cities should assist poor cities. I would support county police assisting cities that cannot afford to hire adequate police.
Who is George Blakemore?
His political/civic background: George has over 30 years of experience advocating across State, City and County governments. George is fiercely protective of the public rights to enjoyment of public services. He has filed lawsuits on behalf of the public to get park benches installed for the public use. Recognition for the city’s first Black mayor was George’s intent when he pushed to get an elevated stop named in Harold Washington’s honor. George was also one of the first to fight for the citizen;s right to address the city council during open meetings.
His occupation: George has held a variety professions from shining shoes to Street vendor. The profession of street vendor took George across the country. Comming from a long line of educators followed the family business and taught Political Science in both elementary and high school. George loved meeting new people and selling. He eventually drifted back into his current profession as a Street Vendor.
His education: George has an BA in Political Science. He is a life long learner and often times take personal development courses in Arts and History as well as his beloved Political Science.
As a commissioner, how strongly would you support efforts to ensure that voting within the county is secure?
Blakemore: I would shore up technology with a focus on identification.
What should the County Board do to help reduce gun violence?
Blakemore: I believe Cook County needs something like a Marshal Plan to reaching those who commit crime. The county should emphasis on a return to family values joined with employment for a holistic approach. I also believe in a strong push toward trades school for those who don’t go to college would direct focus towards more productive endeavors.
What ordinances would you propose and make a priority?
Blakemore: I believe illegals are a drain on county resources. I would fine business caught hiring illegals.
Should Cook County create a Consensus Revenue Forecasting Commission to give the board independent analyses?
Blakemore: If the Consensus Revenue Forecasting Commission can better direct county resources where they are better needed I am in support of that.
Does it make sense for the sheriff’s department to take over the Cook County forest preserve police? Does it make sense for Stroger Hospital to have its own police force? Please explain.
Blakemore: The County should save those dollars and cede policing the hospitals to the the Sheriff Department. The Forrest Preserve is more nuanced and needs its own governing body who should address that issue.
Within the forest preserve system, native plants areas in unmanaged land are deteriorating at a rate of about 3 percent per year because of weeds and invasive species. What should be done, if anything, to protect the forest preserve’s ecosystems?
Blakemore: Because of the exacting care and fragile ecosystem the Forrest Preserve should have its own board and budget, It cannot afford to compete with other agencies for resources.
Are county commissioners, who are mostly Democrats, independent enough of their party and the president?
Blakemore: No Democratic candidates are too tied to machine politics across all bodies of Government especially in Chicago.
What can the county do to create synergies with the City of Chicago? Or is this unnecessary?
Blakemore: The county should work with the city and eliminate duplication of services. The county and city both have separate health departments. In cities where there are both county and city health centers one agency should concede to the other and not duplicate services freeing up monies for both governing bodies.
Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, the Sun-Times is teaming up weekly with the Better Government Association, in print and online, to fact-check the truthfulness of the candidates. You can find all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.