Meet the District 7 candidates: Paul Arena


Paul Arena, the incumbent, and Michelle Lewis, the challenger, are running for the District 7 seat on the Winnebago County Board of Trustees in the June 28 Republican primary. All the seats are up for election this fall.

District 7, which includes part of Roscoe and much of Machesney Park, has no Democratic candidate. So the winner of the Republican primary will represent District 7.

On the County mapDistrict 7 is colored "pale chestnut" and includes Swanson Park, Rock Cut State Park, Kieselberg Forest Preserve, and Roland Olson Forest Preserve. Some of its boundaries are N. 2nd Street, Forest Hills Road, N. Perryville Road, Broadcast Parkway, Lovesee Road, Orth Road, and Argyle Road on the Boone County line. It also includes Sophia's Restaurant, Casey's, Stateline Family YMCA, Culver's, Main Street Meat, AMC Machesney 14 Theaters, OSF Rock Cut Hospital, Woodward, Zenith Cutter, and Peak Sports Club.

Paul Arena

What are your qualifications for the Winnebago County Board of Trustees?

I am the current representative of District 7. This is my first run for re-election.

Prior to joining the board, I gained years of experience working as an advocate for the housing industry at both the local and state level. I entered the board with a deep understanding of the legislative process.

I was able to utilize that experience to achieve a successful first three years representing District 7. Early in my term, I was assigned leadership duties that focused on defining the structure of our county government and I led the committee who hired our current county administrator.

After my first two years on the board I was appointed Chairman of the Republican Caucus. As the leader of the majority party I have worked hard to create a cooperative and productive working environment among all board members.

I entered the Board at a time of division but I am proud to say that today, your county government is stable and productive.

My work background gives me unique qualifications to continue representing District 7. I came to Winnebago County 32 years ago after graduating from college to work in the manufacturing industry. My career in manufacturing gives me an understanding of one of the foundations of our local economy.

After my time in manufacturing, I returned to the work I had performed while in college and began purchasing and restoring abandoned properties. This work has given me an understanding of what is necessary to rebuild the blighted neighborhoods that exist within Winnebago County.

After restoration of the properties, I rented them out. As a housing provider, I witnessed first-hand the impact public policy can have on the lives of our residents. Because of that experience I am always mindful of how the legislation I vote on will impact the people who it affects.

My educational background, my work experience, my experience in government advocacy, and my success as the current representative, make me qualified to continue to represent the people of District 7.

Why are you running?

I am running for re-election because I have enjoyed the work and believe I can continue to be an effective representative of District 7

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

In my first term I have focused on public safety, ensuing that tax dollars are not wasted, and growing our local economy. During my time in office, the board has expanded the budget for public safety while maintaining the other essential services provided by Winnebago County. If re-elected I intend to continue to support law enforcement while properly managing our budget.

Additionally, during my first term Winnebago County has seen expansion in our economy. The area around the airport is growing. Amazon has made a substantial investment near the airport and other companies are following. The I-90 corridor is also growing. Costco and Hard Rock are two prominent brands who have made a commitment to our region.

As a member of the County Board, I intend to continue our efforts to attract business to our region. Keeping crime down and taxes low is critically important to our economic growth.

What are the reasons that people should vote for you?

I have devoted myself to the job of County Board member. I have worked hard, gained the respect of my colleagues on the Board and have had produced a positive result for the people I represent. If re-elected I will continue to be dedicated to be an effective Board member.

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