Mike Kobel

Why are you running?

I am running for the Champaign County Board to continue my calling of public service. I have dedicated myself to the local fire service, EMS, public safety, and community. Having been an administrator and served on several boards and committees, I feel that the county board is the next step for me to continue my service to the residents of Champaign County. I believe in our Republican Candidates message of providing for Community Safety, accurate and expected Public Service from our elected officials, and Accountability of our elected officials. I believe in fixing what is broken and doing something right the first time. It’s vital to look toward the end results and not just spend money on the new, big and shiny things. I will be honest, respectful, and work hard to ensure the very best and efficient use of our tax dollars.

What do you feel are the main issues?

The Jail Expansion.

One of the biggest issues facing our county is the jail expansion. The proposed expansion does not meet current, nor future needs and is therefore merely a band aid placed on the project. The proposed expansion is does not provide adequate space on several fronts. These include: separation of gang members, separation for female prisoners, and adequate space for prisoners to meet with their families and attorneys. Some feel that with the scheduled SAFE-T Act taking effect in January 2023, we simply will not have the need for jail space due to the “no cash bail” policy. The hard truth is that no one really knows how the SAFE-T Act will play out. To add to these concerns, if arrestees are released, the county will loose unknown amounts of revenue from bail funds. The county will then be hard pressed to make up these differences from an already extremely tight budget.

Public Service and Accountability

Of great importance to many people I have spoken with falls within the realm of public service and accountability. We pay taxes and we have certain expectations in return from our elected officials and the departments they oversee. Most complaints and concerns are regarding difficulty in obtaining information, lost documentation, navigation of the website(s), or simply getting a phone call returned. I have experienced a few of these issues myself.

How will you address these issues?

With respect to the jail expansion, I feel we need to re-visit the proposed facility. As a life-long resident of the county, the need for jail space has been a topic every few years. I feel we should build the jail large enough not only for the current prisoner population and necessary facilities, but we should build it large enough for future needs in the many years to come. Currently, we are paying to house prisoners out of the county and many of these jails are overcrowded. Our jail should be large enough so that we can generate revenue, and corrections jobs, by housing other county’s prisoners. The need for a proper jail is never going away. Mostly importantly, we have the one-time opportunity to use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to make this happen while limiting the financial burden on the taxpayers.