Lake Forest residents Rummel, Helton vie for county board seat
Updated: March 29, 2012 3:53PM
The two Lake Forest candidates running for the Lake County Board 12th District both feel it’s about time someone from their home town has a voice on how the county is run.
Scott Helton and Mike Rummel are battling to be the Republican candidate for the county board seat. With no Democrat who filed for November’s election, the winner of the 12th District seat in the March 20 vote likely will be the next county board member and the first to represent the community in 10 years. The new 12th District, however, extends beyond Lake Forest to include all of Knollwood and portions of Highland Park and Deerfield.
The position pays $44,000 a year and includes medical benefits and pension.
Helton and Rummel each feel they each have unique experiences they bring to the board to further improve efficiencies and address what they agree is the number one concern of residents: Real estate taxes.
Helton has worked nearly 30 years at Finkel, Martwick & Colson as the firm’s resident property tax and valuation expert.
“That’s one of the strongest points I bring to the county board,” Helton said. “I really understand the assessment process.”
The Lake County Board appointed Helton as a member of the Board of Review Advisory Committee in 2010 to try to streamline the process to file tax assessments.
He supports bringing the assessment process online and making it possible for taxpayers to appeal their tax assessment at their township office rather than going to the Lake County building in Waukegan.
‘Second to none’
Helton supports trying to get businesses to relocate from Cook and McHenry counties to Lake County and offering them an incentive to do so as a way to create more jobs here.
“We’ve got a workforce second to none,” he said. “I think we could actively recruit from Cook and McHenry.”
On other hot-button issues, Helton does not support the county funding a rebuild of Winchester House, which has been estimated could cost the county $35 million.
“I think the private sector should build this,” he said. “It would save the county money and provide better service.”
On a golf course at Fort Sheridan that could cost the county $20 to $25 million, Helton would support walking paths and open space instead. While there is a deed restriction on the property to build a golf course, Helton vowed to fight using county dollars to pay for such a course.
“Simple is sometimes better,” he said.
In addition to the work he has done with the county board, Helton has served as the Lake Forest Caucus chairman and was elected to the village board of Glenview at the age of 26.
Rummel, former mayor of Lake Forest, believes he can bring to the county board many of the cost-saving initiatives he brought to the city of Lake Forest and his own insurance business, which he has run for three decades.
“I was a city alderman, head of the finance committee and mayor running a $23 million budget for the city. I think I’m well-equipped and have the background to do this job,” Rummel said.
During his 10 years on the Lake Forest City Council, Rummel said he has already represented the majority of the residents of the 12th district.
“I reached into Highland Park, too,” Rummel said. “During my time as mayor, we began a lot of collaboration with Highland Park.”
As mayor, Rummel was instrumental in starting the Northern Illinois Purchasing Group so municipalities could purchase goods and services in bulk and save money.
“That’s something I hope to bring to the county,” he said.
Rummel also created a Legal Committee for the city of Lake Forest, which ultimately reduced lawsuits against the city by half, he said.
In addition, Rummel has a resume that includes working seven years with municipal budgets.
“That’s a lot of experience,” he said.
On Winchester House, Rummel supports going to referendum on the question to let residents decide if they want to pay for the rebuilding or if they think it should be privatized.
On Fort Sheridan’s golf course, Rummel believes the county has been “remiss” in doing its due diligence to show that “open space brings as much value as a golf course” to surrounding home owners. If that were done, Rummel believes all those involved could approach Washington D.C. “with one voice” to lift the deed restriction on the property.
To bring jobs to the county, Rummel supports creating enterprise zones to bring in more economic development.
“We have to have shovel-ready dirt so we don’t lose anyone. If we don’t have these zones ready with infrastructure, sewers and electricity in place, (businesses) won’t want to wait” and will choose another county in which to establish their business, he said.