A small but committed group of supporters for Cory Singer, the Republican candidate for Will County Executive, met over coffee and donuts Tuesday at Singer's headquarters on Maple Street. The current Will County Executive, Democrat Larry Walsh is running for re-election. Illinois State Treasurer Daniel Rutherford arrived to cheer local the GOP candidate on and urged supporters to press on for Republican votes.
Singer talked about taxes, property values in relation to major construction projects and the economy of government. In essence, he said, these issues are woven in an overall fabric that blankets families, jobs, homes and transportation. A discussion with a supporter in regard to property taxes grew into a conversation related to the proposed Illiana Expressway Corridor to ease traffic flow between Illinois and Indiana.
Singer, who represents Frankfort on the Will County Board and chairs the Will County Transportation and Public Works Committee, said in theory he favors the Illiana Expressway project, but it has to take into consideration existing homes and families. At the moment, the plan has designated the marriage of Interstate 65 in Indiana to Interstate 55.
"My deeper concern is that the state (of Illinois) has identified an area" around Wilmington as the connecting point. On paper, the idea is appealing, he said. However, the community of Wilmington is likely to suffer a decline in property value in an economy that has already diminished the value of homes, especially those built in the last five or six years.
He cited discussions dating back decades in regard to the proposed Peotone Airport as an example. Those eastern Will County communities have been held "hostage" for years as the discussion goes round and round. Once the conversation of a major proposal is unveiled, those communities are branded as places to avoid. No one wants to buy property knowing or suspecting that an airport or major interstate is planned for one's backyard, said Singer, president for the Forest Preserve District for Will County.
The same idea applies to the proposed Illiana Expressway Corridor. Since Singer supports the idea of a corridor, he suggests shifting the point of connection to an area that slices into the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. The 19,000-acre park is situated in an area between Channahon and Wilmington. And while the road cut would displace a small portion of the prairie, Singer said there is "precedent for that."
The purpose of the altered plan is to save the community from the hardship of being characterized as the potential spot for a major transportation project.
Rutherford, the chairperson for the Illinois GOP national campaign, said Illinois remains a key state in the election. The movement to unseat President Barack Obama from his home state and strong Chicago constituency is personal interaction. He urged attendees to man the phones, to keep the discussion going. "We have to get the vote out," added Rutherford.
One attendee, Judy Wooten, of Minooka, suggested that Mitt Romney supporters reach out to engage and support those who today view their vote for Obama in 2008 as a mistake. Rutherford agreed with sentiment.
Wooten continued then to talk about two of her sons, U.S. Marines, who were notified recently that they are on "active alert." Choking back tears, she said, "That doesn't bother me. What scares me is knowing they don't have a strong administration behind them. …We have no foreign policy."
Rutherford went on to lend his support to Singer and stirred the group to work toward a Romney win by cultivating minority voters and campaigning in traditional Democratic strongholds.