Full Name: Elnalyn Costa
What office are you seeking? Will County Board, District 11
What offices, if any, have you previously held? 2017-present: DuPage Township Precinct 4 Committee Captain
Occupation: Fund Administrator for the SEIU Healthcare IL Benefit Funds
Education: National Louis University, Bachelor of Science in Health Care Leadership
Harvard Medical School, Executive Education: Evidence, Insight and Strategy for Optimizing Health Benefits
Campaign Website: WWW.COSTAFORCOUNTYBOARD.COM
The Will County Board has established broad parameters for how it should spend more than $133 million in federal pandemic aid including infrastructure, health purposes and economic development. What specific causes should the board focus on when spending that money?
The county board has begun the process to allocate the American Rescue Plan Act funding. The funding should support programming where the county services were most impacted due to the pandemic. A thorough assessment should be completed to ensure the funding is spent over the allowable period. The specific cause I would like to see the ARPA dollars spent is on preventative healthcare and mental health services. Our children experienced hardship in adjusting to remote work during the pandemic. We need to put additional resources towards early childhood development, addressing any delays in development screening and the need for early childhood mental health and family engagement programs. Our adolescent youth also need support to seek preventative well-care visits, learn to advocate for themselves with healthcare professionals, and to be informed on how to navigate a complicated healthcare system at a young age.
The Will County Board has yet to decide on how to spend new revenue from its recreational marijuana sales tax. How should that revenue be allocated?
The recreational marijuana sales tax is estimated to bring in $1.2 million dollars annually. The revenue gained should be used to fund programs in Will County communities that have been harmed by violence, excessive incarceration and economic divestment, modeled after the Illinois Restore, Reinvest, Renew (R3) program. In the R3 model, these Will County communities currently include Aurora, Bolingbrook, Crest Hill and Joliet. Funding programs for mental health services, substance abuse support, and workforce development would be most beneficial.
The board has been discussing what to do with the old county courthouse property. While it’s limited to using it for public purposes, what do you think should happen to the former courthouse building and the land on which it sits?
The County Board has already approved demolition, and the cost analysis has determined that demolition will cost less than a remodeling or repurposing of the old county courthouse. I agree with the board’s decision to level the courthouse, while working with the county’s Historic Preservation Commission to retain artifacts and relics that can help to educate and memorialize where the old county courthouse once stood. Courthouses are symbolic spaces for truth, justice and participatory democracy that preserves our rights and our freedoms. The land on which it sits can then be reimagined to create a beautiful greenspace for public use which Will County residents and our families can enjoy, can be educated, and can appreciate our rights and freedoms.
Do you think Will County should maintain the county executive form of government? Please explain.
Yes. The checks and balances of the two branches of the county executive form of government in Will County works, where the board serves as the legislative policy making branch and the executive branch serves to carry out and enforce policy.
The county is conducting a diversity and inclusion study of its operations. While the study is ongoing, what do you think county government should do to ensure diversity and inclusion in its hiring and contracting processes?
The newly formed Diversity and Inclusion Committee should take the lead on making meaning of the quantitative and qualitative data from the study. I am highly interested in participating in this committee. The study’s data should inform the board to develop specific initiatives to create a more diverse, inclusive, equitable and just operation of the county. In the meantime, and only as an initial step towards better hiring practices, elected officials responsible for contracting and hiring managers across the county should receive training and education on unconscious and implicit bias as a necessary step to reduce the influence bias makes in hiring decisions.
The annual salaries of countywide- elected officials in Will County tend to trail their counterparts in neighboring suburban counties. Do you support raising salaries of countywide elected officials in Will County?
It will be necessary to look at current labor market trends in comparison to surrounding counties, to factor inflation and the demands of leading county services through changes due to the pandemic in order to make a fair and equitable determination on salary. There is no reason for Will County to be trailing neighboring suburban counties if the board has done an effective job of managing the county budget.
The county has seen an increase in opioid overdose deaths during the past year. Its substance use initiatives office has worked to combat the epidemic. What more do you think the county should do to prevent such incidents?
More access to fentanyl has helped to prevent overdose. Once a life is saved, there is more work to do to support addiction recovery. People with depression and other mental health conditions are more likely to develop opioid addiction. The pandemic only deepened the state of isolation many people are struggling through. We need to normalize talking about mental health issues, and to increase social services and outreach programs that are aimed at supporting addiction recovery and preventing substance abuse before it starts.
How would you encourage economic and employment growth within Will County?
Economic and employment development is a multipronged effort for the county, and requires strong relationships between organizations like the Will County Center of Economic Development, local commerce chambers, and municipalities. In order to leverage our strategic Midwest location for business growth, we must invest in our infrastructure to ensure efficient passage to and from Will County’s industrial spaces. As new industries take interest in Will County, we need to ensure there is housing development and community development to ensure access to good education, healthcare and recreation.
Do you think there is a local crime problem? If so, what needs to be done about it?
Yes, there is always crime to be dealt with. As the county board works to address crime and public safety specifically in unincorporated parts of Will County, we must also work with municipal police departments to more responsibly address crime in all communities under the county. This will require more community engagement, diversion programs for our youth, law enforcement training and preparation, and access to social services and mental healthcare. It’s critical that resources and funding are made available to support these programs for crime prevention and to support law enforcement with crime control.
What local road and bridge projects should be a priority to get done in the county?
The Will County Department of Transportation must coordinate closely with the Illinois Department of Transportation to see through the completion of road work on our interstate highways, including on I-80 and I-55.
Do you support decreasing local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?
The county board portion of the tax rate is low, approximately 4-5% of total property taxes. I support holding the line on the current county tax rate to ensure continuity of county services. I encourage constituents to get active with their local school boards, where the allocation of property tax rate is highest.
Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?
I support the enforcement of our current government ethics laws to ensure accountability and confidence in our local government systems.
What are your thoughts on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?
When FOIA is requested, it is the absolute responsibility of the FOIA officer to produce the information requested.
Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.
The County Board shall continue to record all meetings and policy decisions, and made available through the website and by request.
What would you push for as a member of county government to boost local businesses?
As previously stated, we must invest in our infrastructure to ensure efficient passage to and from Will County’s industrial spaces to draw business to the county. As new industries take interest in Will County, we need to ensure there is housing development and community development to ensure access to good education, healthcare and recreation, creating opportunities for families to build a home and small and large businesses to thrive in the county.
The ARPA dollars must be allocated toward economic development across the county. County board members should develop good relationships with municipal leaders and local commerce chambers to understand areas where the pandemic stalled economic development to direct funding and resources to those areas to boost local business development.
Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign non- disclosure agreements with private businesses?
I don’t have a position on this matter at this time.
Would you push for or against government officials and employees being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?
I don’t have a position on this matter at this time.