Candidates for Tazewell County auditor and Tazewell County District 1 Board Member seats discussed their ideas and plans for the positions at stake in the Nov. 8 general election during a forum Tuesday night at the Tazewell County Justice Center sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria.

Auditor candidates Republican Shelly Hranka and Democrat Tom Shrier are looking to replace Vicki Grashoff, who is retiring after 20 years.

Hranka has served as a Groveland Township Trustee for the past 3 1/2 years, and Shrier received his bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and is the CFO of Excalibur Seasoning, agreed that the auditor position is an important position for taxpayers. Both cited the importance of the roles visibility and accountability must play in the auditor position, in regards to working directly for taxpayers.

When asked what changes could be made to the position, Shrier said it would be difficult to directly say due to less staff, decreased salary and more responsibilities, but said the auditor needs to be accountable for the taxpayer. In April, the County Board voted to cut the auditor’s annual compensation from $70,000 to $50,000.

Hranka said some changes could be made by having each of the county’s department enter its own bills and the auditor should check the bills. She also said that by switching to electronic payments could help cut down on resources.

With the County Board preparing the 2017 budget and having asked each department to try to cut 10 percent earlier this month, Hranka said personnel, health care and IMRF and pension funds are high and areas to look into to see if cuts can be made. Shrier said the county has to be looked as a business and each department would have to look into it individually because the auditor’s job is to audit.

The forum then moved into questions for District 1 Board Members seeking a 2-year term.

Incumbent Democrat Gary Sciortino will run against Republican Jay Hall.

Sciortino and Hall agreed that Tazewell County and the city of Pekin need to work closer together to help save taxpayers money and to reduce redundant spending.

In regards to the county’s upcoming budget, both agreed that every department needs to look into their budgets, while looking into labor and personnel, but they said cutting personnel would be a last resort.

Following Sciortino’s and Hall’s discussion, the forum moved into questions for District 1 Board Members seeking a 4-year term. Five candidates are running for the four seats up for election. Among those running are Incumbent Democrats Darrell Meisinger, Susan Sundell and Joseph Wolfe; incumbent Republican Nancy Proehl; and Kim Joesting. Among the five candidates, only Meisinger, Proehl and Joesting were present at the forum.

Meisinger and Proehl agreed that the motor fuel tax and economic priorities are the county’s top priorities.

Joesting said he was eager to learn and be apart of the County Board and said infrastructure should be one of the board’s top priorities.