In a packed April 9 election, one hotly contested campaign in the Illinois Valley is for Peru Township supervisor.
Incumbent Democrat Michael Hocking will face Independent challenger Travis Nelson.
Why are you running?
Hocking: “I enjoy the tasks presented to the township and also enjoy working with our great community. We have raised our three children in Peru where they have made lifelong friends. We have felt that Peru has the best schools in the area and we always supported them wholeheartedly. I would look forward to continue working with all organizations, community leaders and programs to consider suggestions for further improvements.”
Nelson: “I chose to run for Peru Township supervisor because I believe the government is for the people it serves and not the people that are elected to run it. When I first learned that money intended for general assistance was being used to pay salary and retirement instead of helping those in need, I knew it was time to try to make a change. It is my belief that we can cut the budget over the next four years and lower the tax levy to Peru Township residents. I also believe that salaries and benefits for elected officials and employees must be cut and medical insurance and retirement for positions that work just 20 hours a week must be eliminated.”
What will be your goals during this term and how will you implement them?
Hocking: “My goals include keeping our township of Peru programs financially sound and to continue to stay updated on the state statutes regarding township government. Salaries will be frozen and per diem payments have also been restructured. Medical reimbursements have been greatly reduced for the next term. The medical discount card would continue to be available to our residents. I would also like to continue to reduce costs in overhead. Other projects that should be continued include support for Peru Volunteer Ambulance Service, the Peru annual Fishing Rodeo, donations for our local food pantry, Red Cross Meals on Wheels, Horizon House Road to Independence, Friends for Peru Pool and PADS. Another great organization that deserves continued Peru Township support is the La Salle County Youth Service Bureau.”
Nelson: “One of my first goals will be to create and maintain a website for Peru Township. I believe that government transparency is important to the community and this website will keep residents updated about what the township government is doing and services it provides. This website and a printed newsletter will provide the public updated meeting agendas, meeting minutes, expenses paid by the Township, access to General Assistance information and most important provide direct contact to all elected officials of Peru Township.
“The second goal will be to initiate programs for Peru Township which will seek out and identify those in our community who are in need of assistance. Peru Township has failed for many years to help the community’s neediest, providing only $4,800 in general assistance funding for the last two years.
“One of the main purposes of a township is to provide general assistance and I will make it my priority to reach out to local organizations like Illinois Valley PADS and other charitable organizations to help provide for those in need.
“I will work to initiate progressive programs that will provide preventive health and wellness to seniors and others including low cost or no cost flu vaccines as well as wellness screenings for the early detection of common illness and disease.
“Lastly, I will examine every expense the township pays in order to save money and lower taxes in Peru Township. It’s my belief that Christmas parties, paying someone to clean the office weekly, hiring family and friends, and out of control spending must be stopped. Peru Township can operate on a much smaller budget than it does now and I will work tirelessly to cut overhead in township expenses.”
Why should you be elected?
Hocking: “If elected I want to work to keep real estate taxes and township liability in check. As a trustee for five years and supervisor for a little more than two years, I have attended many seminars and continuing educational classes. I would like to use the skills I have obtained and knowledge acquired to improve our township.”
Nelson: “Since the current administration has already voted in the pay, medical insurance reimbursement and retirement, I will make it my promise to the voters that I will donate a significant portion of my salary to a special fund which will be used to establish new township programs as well as support other local charities. When it comes time to approve the new salaries, benefits and retirement I pledge to lower all salaries and remove the excessive perks and retirement benefits.
Any final thoughts?
Hocking: “Each and every township is unique in their needs due to their demographics. State statues dictate very specifically the implementation of all applications for assistance. Certain funds are strictly mandated for a specific use and are not subjective by any individual. They are determined by state guidelines only.
“Township government is not one person, but a group working together to improve the whole. I have tried to do the best I can with honest, respectful and practical intentions. I would like to continue to serve our community in the Peru Township Supervisor position and continue to improve to be one of the better townships in the state of Illinois.”
Nelson: “I believe that the current township supervisor and all other township elected officials are overcompensated and I intend to reform that situation. I believe Peru Township government can be reformed to provide the services it was intended to. As I have walked door-to-door and visited with voters they are shocked that Peru Township spends so much of its taxpayer dollars on salaries, benefits and retirement to its elected officials and employees. This will not continue if new people are elected to all township offices.”