Retired Illinois State Police lieutenant Bob Hulme has announced that he will be joining the race for a seat on the Madison County Board in Edwardsville’s District 17, against incumbent Ann Gorman.
Hulme, a Republican, who has run for the District 17 seat in the past and has served as the Madison County Republican Chairman, said he would like people in the county to be fully aware of what is going on in the county.
“My strategy is to talk about the way things are in the county and provide some real representation for the people in the 17th District,” he said. “This county’s board and the present chairman love to spend money. And I believe our taxes, especially property taxes – which go towards paying for a lot of things, are way too high.”
The University of Illinois graduate and U.S. Army veteran said that after challenging his property taxes he got them reduced significantly, and advises everyone in the county to do the same.
“The value of our property was overvalued by over $50,000,” Hulme said. “I think other people should do the same thing [challenge their property taxes] because the people who do the estimation of the taxation of the property values are not very skilled. But they are skillful in bringing more money into the county than the cost of the property would warrant.”
Hulme said that that he has been involved in politics for the last 20 years as a Republican, and even though he ran for Sheriff twice and lost both elections, he has met a lot of people over the years that have a real interest in providing more accountable government to Madison County.
In his announcement, the 35-year resident of Edwardsville said the “Democrat political machine,” which he challenged in a 2001 federal lawsuit - Hulme v. Madison County - is still very much at play today.
In Hulme v. Madison County, the court ultimately found that the Democrats' re-districting plan was invalid, unconstitutional and unenforceable.
"Even though we were successful exposing corrupt machine politics, almost 15 years later we still have a political machine running Madison County," he stated.
Regarding the "political machine," Hulme said, “It’s time to break it. It’s been past time to break it. Our problem is that it’s a one-party system. And the leadership of this Democratic Party are assured that every one of the people on the county board will say, ‘Yes, sir,’ and give them anything they want.”
Hulme believes that there just aren’t enough Republican voices on the board to question the way things are currently being run.
“I want to add to that number of Republicans and make this a county board that’s going to be responsible and question whether the need is there for the more money that the county board and county administration always seem to want,” he said.
Another issue that Hulme brought up in his announcement was his desire to have an “ethical county government.”
“The ability to hide money is one of the things I see going on," he said. "For instance, when the county board raises money for the coming year and they allocate money for different funds and agencies, they always allocate more money than they actually spend. Then, at the end of the year when they have a surplus, they find a special place to put it and they buy it.”
Hulme said that he looks forward to bringing transparency to the county board, and said the people of Madison County can expect him to always be honest with them.
Gorman, a Democrat, is a global alliance manager at Teradata Corporation. She has held her seat on the county board since 2010 and disagrees with Hulme’s claim that money is being hidden and misused by the county.
“County board members are here to look at each of the departments and make sure that they make decisions that are fiscally responsible," she said. "If there are funds available at the end of the year and there are purchases that are necessary, those would be brought before individual committees who may be requesting these funds."
Gorman also pointed out that the funds in question would go through a review process with the respective committee and then be brought to the broader board for a vote.
“So it would be a bi-partisan vote,” she said.
As for what the people in the 17th District can expect should they vote for her, Gorman said she plans to remain consistent.
“What I’ve always run on is, ‘How do we make fiscally responsible decisions yet provide the services that we all expect,’” she said. “I’m going to continue to work with the groups that I represent, which are our Grants committee, Technology committee and Finance committee; and work to make decisions that will benefit all of us.”
Gorman said she is proud of the progress the county board has made in bringing both parties together on important decisions. “I think that the board and Alan Dunstan have recently done a great job of pulling at least the majority of the Democrats and Republicans together to make these decisions,” she concluded.
The primary election is March 15, 2016. The general election is Nov. 4, 2016.