Full Name: Annette Corrigan
What office are you seeking? DuPage County Board Member - District 4
What offices, if any, have you previously held? Trustee, College of DuPage
Milton Township Republican Organization - Precinct Committeeman, Precinct 25
Occupation: Attorney & Mother
Education: Marquette University, B.A. Political Science
Marquette University, J.D.
Campaign Website: www.corrigan4dupage.com
What steps should DuPage County health and sheriff’s departments take to prevent opioid addiction and overdose?
The Sheriff’s Department and DCHD have helped spread accessibility, awareness, and training regarding NARCAN, a fast-acting treatment for preventing overdose. In conjunction with the Health Department, the Sheriff’s Department does an outstanding job at aiding opioid addicts who are incarcerated. A strong focus on recovery over punishment has helped the County see significant drops in opioid- related recidivism. The two departments are pursuing further options to aid drug users in the time immediately following their release, statistically the most likely time for addicts to go back to bad habits. I fully support the Sheriff’s Office and County Health Department’s effort and will continue to support them on the DuPage County Board. One initiative that may be implemented that I do not believe we have in DuPage is an Amnesty Program. This program allows people ready to get clean to turn over their drugs to law enforcement, request help, and receive assistance for drug rehabilitation. There are no charges issued for possession of the drugs that are handed over to law enforcement. Sheriff personnel would work in conjunction with the Health Department (partnering with other agencies and organizations) to walk these people through the process to become free from drugs and avoid overdose. As a result, the people struggling in their fight against addiction have the opportunity to develop relationships with people who have access to the help they need and who care about their success in overcoming addiction.
What is your opinion of the county board’s actions and initiatives since Democrats assumed control of the board two years ago?
Some of what I have seen and heard relative to the County Board’s actions and initiatives since the Democrats assumed control formed the bases for why I agreed to run for a seat on the Board. As a member of numerous boards, I recognize that you will not always agree with your counterparts. Board members should always attempt to maintain civility and decorum in their words and actions with one another. The primary focus of achieving solutions gets lost when there is a lack of cooperation. As a member of the DuPage County Board, I would insist that we show respect and tolerance for one another as we discuss, debate, and work toward achieving solutions and implementing policies for the advancement of our community.
I was very disappointed to learn that the democrats were primarily responsible for tabling (not allowing) any discussion of the Illinois Legislature’s “crime bill” (ridiculously called the SAFE-T Act). As the second-largest County in the State, our leadership should have shone a light when it had a chance on the real harm the crime bill will have on law enforcement’s ability to protect us. I hope that people who read this response take the time to look at what is in the new crime bill, contact their legislators, and demand that the Act be repealed or revisions made.
Other initiatives that I do not believe I would have supported if I had been on the County Board at the time include doubling the gas tax or implementing the fine arts festival during the pandemic.
Do you support the merger of additional county offices/departments?
I will always support mergers that help reduce wasteful spending and save the taxpayers money. However, there have been several instances throughout our County and local government’s history where consolidation was authorized under the pretense of saving money but ended up costing more than when the offices/departments were separated. Therefore, I would do my homework to analyze whether or not I believed a merger would genuinely benefit the taxpayers of the County.
What are your overall thoughts of the sheriff’s department’s job performance?
Sheriff Jim Mendrick, his sheriff deputies and administrative personnel are doing incredible work to keep DuPage County residents safe. I fully support Sheriff Mendrick and our State’s Attorney, Bob Berlin. I would continue to do so if elected to a county board seat.
The county sheriff has taken several initiatives to help reform inmates (tattoo removal services, gardening classes, job placement). What other initiatives would you like to see in an effort to reform inmates?
Education and employment opportunities are the keys to reform. We are fortunate that our Sheriff, Jim Mendrick, has already implemented many projects and approaches to provide those types of opportunities to DuPage County inmates. As a Trustee for the College of DuPage, I would like to explore other initiatives which would combine Sheriff Mendrick’s efforts with the resources of the College to assist in the reformation process of citizens with criminal histories, those who show a real commitment to changing their lives through education and, ultimately, employment.
DuPage County recently provided the DuPage Foundation $10.6 million for a grant program designed to support nonprofit organizations that address food and housing insecurity, mental health and substance use issues. Discuss the county’s role to further tackle these issues.
DuPage County must continue to find ways to help our most vulnerable residents, and providing financial resources is a great start. I am aware that multiple organizations are working to address these problems throughout DuPage (and we are lucky to have them!), but there is no unified effort. As a DuPage County Board member and a newly appointed member of the NAMI Board of Directors, I would want to explore the possibilities for greater success in combating these issues with a unified approach and shared resources.
Assess the DuPage County Health Department’s actions to combat COVID-19.
I think everyone did the best they could during the pandemic. In a situation with limited information and a barrage of federal and state mandates, the DCHD did the best job possible to comply with said orders and educate the public on necessary precautions. In addition, I found the DCHD to be accessible to questions/recommendations on how to apply the new rules to a situation. I frequently saw speakers from the Health Department out in the community, doing their best to keep everyone updated on the quickly evolving information. I was impressed by the operations DCHD established for administering vaccines and tests to those who wanted them, such as the testing site at the County Complex and mobile vaccine clinic.
We have all learned a lot from the pandemic, and I am sure the DCHD has as well. In the future, it will be essential to take what was learned and implement effective strategies if we are confronted with another similar issue.
What changes, if any, need to be made related to the pandemic?
I believe that the scare of the pandemic is coming to an end. Mandates and state restrictions are being lifted. The County and the rest of the world are now better equipped to cope with a pandemic from an infrastructure standpoint. I believe it is the County’s responsibility to aid in easing the public’s way back to everyday living safely and responsibly. An area that does not need change so much as on-going improvement would be communication withallresidents. I am not sure how residents without access to computers or the internet could obtain information.
What actions can the DuPage County Board take to minimize the tax burden on residents while not sacrificing services?
I am a pragmatic person. My position on balancing County spending with today’s revenues requires leadership to have a clear vision of priorities from short- and long-term perspectives. My default button is not to turn to the taxpayers to solve funding issues or implement new services. Instead, my approach is to always look internally first for excess spending and areas of redundancy.
How would you encourage economic and employment growth within DuPage County?
We want new businesses to choose DuPage County as their home. In light of the tragic state-of-affairs in Chicago with the sky-rocketing crime, we should now capitalize on promoting our community’s resources, better quality of life, safer streets and neighborhoods, and proximity to Chicago (and all it has to offer) to encourage businesses to move here. A rigorous marketing plan combined with an ambassador program would be a starting point.
Do you think there is a local crime problem? If so, what needs to be done about it?
Yes, I believe that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Fox’s failure-to- prosecute approach in Cook County has allowed the Chicago crime epidemic to spill over into DuPage County. We are all aware that car- jackings have severely increased (one just occurring on the south side of Wheaton with a child in the car at the time of the car-jacking). We need to support our local law enforcement agencies, DuPage County Sheriff Jim Mendrick, and our own State’s attorney Bob Berlin who do the work to investigate, arrest, prosecute and incarcerate people guilty of crimes. We need to continue to send the message to would-be DuPage offenders that we are NOT Cook County! We must have the new “SAFE-T” act repealed/revised, or, in my opinion, the increase in crime in DuPage County and across the State (not just in Chicago) will drastically worsen.
What local road and bridge projects should be a priority to get done in the county?
From regularly traveling throughout DuPage, I know that there is a significant need to address roads and bridges in disrepair and implement or revise the County’s approach to prioritizing needs. Some of DuPage County’s most basic functions are constructing and maintaining a system of usable and safe roadways, trailways, and other means of travel throughout. The County Board’s primary responsibility is to provide for its residents (next to providing safe neighborhoods). As a newly elected County Board member, I would not only review the projects and plans currently in place; I would want to meet with leadership from the Department of Transportation to talk with those who have “boots on the ground” and understand the County’s approach to addressing the critical projects
Do you support decreasing local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?
I would support any plan that would work to decrease local property taxes. The constant increases in our property taxes since my husband and I moved to DuPage County 30 years ago have made being able to afford living here very expensive for our own family and impossible for others. My approach would be to look at the current allocation of funds to determine if there are areas of waste or duplication of resources that need to be addressed to find internal cost savings. The common-sense budgeting we all must implement in our own lives should be used in government. You don’t spend what you don’t have. A smaller government is more efficient, less wasteful, and more affordable. Like all forms of government, DuPage County must remain vigilant in its efforts to maintain reasonable spending and not increase the tax burden.
Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?
As a DuPage County Board member, I would be a proponent of addressing ethics issues if something were brought to my attention that did not pass the smell test. In reviewing the ethics laws in place for attorneys and ARDC cases brought against attorneys, it often seems to be the case that people who get into trouble don’t realize that their actions have crossed the line. A responsible approach to ensuring that ethical behavior in county government is maintained would be routine education and review of ethics requirements and discussion between Board leadership.
What are your thoughts on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?
The Freedom of Information Act is a necessary statute that gives every citizen access to public records so that they can be informed of the functions and actions of any governmental agency. I have utilized the Act myself occasionally when I believe I need more information on an issue. I recognize the importance of specific topics being kept confidential (such as those relating to negotiations of contracts or litigation that would put an agency at a disadvantage in business or legal dealings) if the information were disclosed.
Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.
I would insist on adhering to the guidelines and rules we have in place for maintaining a transparent form of government at the county level.
What would you push for as a member of county government to boost local businesses?
I am the daughter and grand- daughter of small business owners. I worked in my father’s “shop” throughout my childhood and adolescence. I have a soft spot for business owners. They are the heart and soul of our vibrant communities. Local businesses need the County’s support both from a financial perspective and in the reduction of red-tape. I would encourage and welcome regular feedback from our business owners to learn where problems exist and to find solutions together.
Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign non- disclosure agreements with private businesses?
All activity of public employees and officials in conflict with their public position should be disclosed. Therefore, I believe nondisclosure agreements in conflict with a public position should be prohibited. However, I believe with current ethics guidelines and the required statement of economic interest substantially disclose official’s and employee’s private dealings. I also recognize that public employees and officials have private lives outside of their public position and that non- disclosure agreements or non- compete clauses are staples of the business world and at times must be entered into. If it is not a conflict with a public position, I do not believe prohibiting NDA’s would have any significant benefit to the public, it would only serve as a determinant to public servants in their private lives.
Would you push for or against government officials and employees being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?
See Response to previous question.