Pranjal Vachaspati

Pranjal Vachaspati

Democrat Party

County Board Candidate - District 9

Questions & Answers

For the November 2018 Election

What is the importance of the County Board to your constituents in Champaign County?

The County Board is one of the most direct ways for you to have a say in how your local government runs. The County Board funds and helps manage a wide range of public services including animal control, public transportation, emergency management, and environmental protection. It is also responsible for a lot of the local criminal justice system, including the county jail, the sheriff’s office, and the courthouse.

So if you think any of these should be run differently, or should fix a problem in your neighborhood - or if you think the county should be doing something it’s not currently doing - make sure to not only vote for your County Board member this year, but give them a call or send them an email, or show up to a board meeting to let them know what you think. And if they don’t listen? Vote them out at the next election.

What is a key policy difference between you and your Opponent?

I don’t know the exact policy views of my opponent; however, I do have policy disagreements with many of the Republicans currently on the County Board.

For example, I think it was a mistake to create the office of County Executive. This office will be quite costly for the county, especially because the board approved the $117,000 salary. That money, plus the cost in benefits for the executive, could have otherwise gone to fund county services to help improve quality of life for people in the county.

Looking forward, I am concerned about the push, both nationwide and locally, to make it more difficult to vote. I will oppose efforts to reduce the number of voting locations, and support efforts making it easier to vote and make sure everyone’s vote gets counted. We should, for example, work to expand mail-in voting, which has been fairly successful in the last several elections, to more voters.

On the other hand, I do look forward to working with the Republicans on the board on many issues, like fighting the opioid epidemic and reducing incarceration - although I anticipate a vigorous discussion on the best ways to work towards these goals.

The County Board is responsible for a yearly budget of nearly $130 million. How would prioritize this money, and are there any parts of the current budget you would change?

We’re spending far too much money on incarceration and not enough on the services that keep people out of jail. One of the major issues facing the County Board in the next term will be a proposed expansion of the jail. Expanding the jail is a poor use of the county’s resources, especially as local, state, and federal criminal justice reforms, including cannabis legalization and cash bail reform, continue to reduce the incarceration rate. Instead, we should focus on services like providing housing assistance and addiction recovery, so that fewer people have to enter the criminal justice system.

Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter in Champaign County?

No matter who you elect, this seat belongs to you. If you do elect me, I will push for more democratic processes, like participatory budgeting, citizen review committees, and independent redistricting procedures that work for the people, not politicians.

A lot of governing comes down to the details - evaluating vendor proposals, understanding financial procedures, and so on. I'll use my experience and expertise in statistics, and computer science to ensure that the data analysis the county uses to make decisions is sound and accurate.

I hope to earn your vote for County Board this year, and I look forward to hearing from you about any questions or comments you have about my candidacy or the county board.