23 Aug 2014
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Lake Bluff's Barkhausen Seeks Lake County Board Seat

Shields Township clerk hopes to reconnect with former constituents from 14 years as state senator.

Lake Bluff's Barkhausen Seeks Lake County Board Seat

Shields Township Clerk and veteran lawmaker 61, said Monday he will run for the newly drawn 13th District Lake County Board seat in the 2012 general election. 

Current 13th District board member is not seeking re-election, and the composition of the district was changed radically when the Lake County Board . 

The new district includes most of Lake Bluff and parts of North Chicago, Gurnee, Waukegan and Gages Lake. The territory is not new to Barkhausen, who represented all of it when he served in the Illinois General Assembly from 1981 to 1997. He was a state senator for 14 of those years.

“I feel I can make a contribution to the county board because of my cumulative experience in state and local government,” said Barkhausen, of Lake Bluff. “I look forward to the challenge of campaigning in, and the potential reward of representing this diverse area that I’ve served in the past.” 

Listing his top priority as placing strict controls on the county’s spending, Barkhausen plans to use his experience to help Lake County maintain its AAA bond rating and remain on a solid financial footing.

“We are in an unusual place with a AAA bond rating,” Barkhausen said. “We must maintain it in the face of pressing demands.” 

Barkhausen believes he has demonstrated his financial ability on the local level. He has helped Shields Township eliminate public grants of property tax money. The initiative led to a 30 percent reduction in the township property tax levy. 

As an eight-year member of the Lake Bluff Board of Trustees until earlier this year, Barkhausen chaired its finance committee for six years. During that time, the village reduced its payroll 25 percent, privatized some services and increased its cash reserves against falling revenue. 

Though Barkhausen believes the county is in a solid fiscal position, he is concerned about plans to spend between $30 million and $50 million to refurbish Winchester House, the county’s nursing home. 

“The plan should be re-evaluated,” Barkhausen said. “In the long term, we must decide if this is a core service of county government the county is obligated to maintain when there is capacity in private facilities.” 

Barkhausen does believe Lake County has a responsibility to the existing residents who meet the financial standards for the public facility. “No one should be put into the street,” he said. 

Barkhausen also wants the board to reassess the Lake County Forest Preserve District’s — all Lake County Board members are automatically members of the Forest Preserve Board — consideration of construction of a golf course at Ft. Sheridan.

Barkhausen recognizes the county may have a legal obligation to build the golf course. When the federal government gave the land to Lake County after Ft. Sheridan was closed in 1993, the Department of Defense inserted a deed restriction requiring the land both be open space and maintained as a golf course, according to Barkhausen. 

“We have to look for a way to get out from under the deed restriction,” said Barkhausen, who is also an attorney and has read the document. “We can go back to the Army, which has no financial interest. If it has to be built, it should be a par three (course).”

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