I am currently in my 2nd year as your DuPage County Board Member. Prior to December 2020, I served 13+ years as a Carol Stream Village Trustee. I am very strong in the workings of municipal and county government. I very recently retired after 28+ years as a career Firefighter/Paramedic, where I also served as the Fire District's Public Education Coordinator. I have served many years as a Rotarian, a Lion, a Sunday school teacher, and a youth sports coach. It's in all of these experiences listed above that I have had the opportunity to know and understand the needs of our community. And its in all of these experiences that I've learned how to help and serve others and solve the problems that the residents of DuPage County experience.
As a former firefighter and paramedic, I have seen firsthand the tragedy of opioid addiction. I am very fortunate to be a member of the County's HOPE Opioid Task Force, and very proud of the work we are doing to help those with this disease. I believe that we need to focus on being proactive with prevention education. Most of the opioid education our students receive is during the DARE programs in 5th grade, and even then, the opioid education is just a portion of the entire program. Since I was appointed to the task force in early 2021, I’ve been promoting opioid specific education in middle schools. We must work harder to educate those children before they start using. At our Task Force meeting in February, I was responsible for getting language into the 2022-23 goals that allowed funding toward education. And just this past week in May, we gave Serenity House a $32K grant to provide opioid specific education to middle and high school students!
We need to continue staying vigilant against the covid virus. Continuing to monitor the infection rate and promoting vaccinations and proper protective measures is crucial.
Working to make the County more environmentally friendly, including installing solar panels and purchasing electric vehicles will be at the top of the list of future goals.
Continuing to take care of our residents most in need is so important. Helping our senior population, those who need food or affordable housing is why we do this job.
Covid has hit those with behavioral and mental issues, including addiction, extremely hard. We need to be sure those in need won't get lost in the "stay at home" living standard we are in.
We need to continue to provide public safety to our residents.
Most of all, in this day and age of partisan politics, we need to work together for the right reasons - to help our residents live a happy and healthy and affordable life.
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I was elected to this position in 2018 and my 4 years have proved I have the best interests of my constituents in my work. My policies approved have provided benefits for the whole county not just my district. As a small business owner and a real estate investor I am tuned into the needs of many.
I passed a hen keeping ordinance for our unincorporated areas at the height of the pandemic so our residents could put protein right in their backyards. I also distributed $300K of Cares Act money to our artist communities devastated by Covid.
In 2021 I ordered a pay study of our county employees which found we were underpaying our most valuable asset, our employees. The board agreed and voted to raise wages by 5% across the board. Turnover is costly. Better to keep our employees than pay less and continue to retrain.
Affordable housing and rising prices on goods. In DuPage Co. housing is priced above the ability of too many of our residents to be homeowners.
Our zoning laws need an overhaul to allow things like ADU's (accessory dwelling units) and possible tiny houses to make home ownership more affordable. We also need multi unit apartments and duplex housing as there is not much available land in our county for single family homes. I. along with a couple other board members are currently looking at housing options for those who can't afford.
I will continue to advocate for lowering the cost of housing in our community as well as moving our county government to be more environmentally conscious. I currently head the Environmental committee and advocate to move our county toward more sustainable choices. (Electric vehicles, electric mowers and less turf to maintain on our roadways)
I am working with a private donor to add solar panels to one of our buildings at the county complex and hope that we can outfit more of our flat roofs with solar.
I am also working with consultants to secure a single trash hauler contract in the unincorporated areas of our townships. Some areas have up to 6 companies servicing their neighborhoods which means up to 12 large trash trucks traveling our side streets! From an environmental, safety and road wear and tear perspective we can provide better service at a lower price with a contract like the municipalities enjoy.
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I have spent my whole life in service to my Country and my community. I attended college at the University of Notre Dame, where I double majored in Government and Economics. I then attended law school at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. From there I served 3 years active duty, and another 17 in the Reserves of the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant Colonel. I understand how government and the economy work, and I understand how important leadership, especially principled leadership, are to effective government. I have already served 10 years on the County Board, the last 2 1/2 as Finance Chairman. We won national awards for our budgeting during a major financial crisis with the Covid pandemic. I have the experience, leadership skills, and knowledge to guide the County Board in the years ahead as I have in years past.
Taxes, taxes, taxes. At the end of my previous 10 years on the County Board, the average homeowner was paying LESS in real estate taxes to the County than when I started. But that took enormous effort, thoughtfulness, and planning. In the year and a half since I've been gone programs and policies have been set up that are going to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to balance the County's budget. We need leadership that will remember whose money is being spent. I put my own money where my mouth is, becoming the first Republican County Board Member to turn down the generous pension offered to Board Members. I was the only Board Member to vote against the large gas tax increase the County imposed in 2020. I will return the Board to fiscal sanity, so it can continue to serve the people of DuPage without driving them out of their homes due to ever increasing real estate tax costs.
As I mentioned, getting control of the County's spending has to be a top priority. We need to ensure our tremendous public safety advocates, Sheriff Mendrick and State's Attorney Bob Berlin, have the resources they need to continue to make DuPage an island of safety outside the war zone that is the City of Chicago. We need to protect the DuPage Care Center, and ensure our most vulnerable populations are protected. But County government is meant to be limited government. I intend to reign in the focus of the County Board, and turn it away from the current path of every expanding government intrusion into people's lives.
I worked on my first habitat house when I was 13 and I was hooked. That feeling of being so tried and sore at the end of the day but knowing that you did something great makes you want to do it. Every day I try and do one nice thing for someone else. It doesn’t matter who that person is. Combining this desire with my experience as supply chain manager I know that I can be really effective. I have worked in supply chain for over 15 years which has offered an opportunity to work with a variety of suppliers in the US, Europe, and Asia. I have worked with all difference types of personalities in order to get the we needed done. This means that at times I am planning months in advance in a consistently changing environment. The last three years have been the most challenging but has showed me the importance of perseverance and creative thinking. I plan use everything I have learn while serving all the people DuPage County.
One of the challenges DuPage faces is the lack of affordable housing. Affordable housing is the foundation to a successful community. We have 932,000 people in dupage county and 7.8% of kids under 18 are living in poverty. That is 72K kids living in poverty and that is too many. Affordable housing can change that. People in stable housing go from surviving to thriving. Improves the overall health of the families by being able to spend more on food and health care. Improves children’s performance in school and their mental well-being. Children that have stable housing are more likely to go to college. Affordable homes builds generational wealth and create a strong and diverse middle class because owning a home is often the first step to permanently lift families out of poverty. I plan to with organizations already in DuPage and offer financial or logistical support.
As a mother of two young children, I feel an overwhelming desire to work to make sure they inherit a better DuPage County. To make sure that all residents have the opportunity to thrive. DuPage has a strong financial foundation which provides an opportunity to invest in its people. Making sure that DuPage residents have affordable housing can have a generational impact on a family’s and the county’s financial success. All DuPage residents should feel welcome because it is our diversity that makes us strong. Each person offers a unique experience and perspective that I value. I want each person to know that they belong here in DuPage County. For each item that comes before the board I will ask these three questions. Who does it help? Who does it hurt? Are we investing in people or the community? These three questions will drive my decisions to create a financially strong and culturally diverse community.