DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder candidate Linh Nguyen answered Shaw Local’s election questionnaire for the DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder primary election.
Voting ends for the primary election on the evening of June 28.
Full Name: LINH NGUYEN
What office are you seeking? DEKALB COUNTY CLERK AND RECORDER
What offices, if any, have you previously held? I was elected as the President of the League of Women Voters of DeKalb County in May 2020. Under my leadership, the league organized 18 voter registrations events and hosted numerous candidates’ forums in the five months leading to the November 2020 election. The League’s efforts contributed to DeKalb County’s historic turnout of 75% in the 2020 election.
Occupation: Chemistry Instructor at Northern Illinois University
Education: Doctor of Philosophy (Computational Chemistry), Duquesne University, 2013
Master of Science (Physical Chemistry), University of Oklahoma, 2010
Bachelor of Science with Special Distinction (Chemistry and Biochemistry), University of Oklahoma, 2008
Associate Degree in Science (Biological Sciences),
Oklahoma City Community College, 2006
Campaign Website: https://www.winwithlinhnguyen.com/
What would be your top three priorities over the next four years?
Most election authority officials, including the DeKalb County election authority, lack the advanced technological knowledge to reliably do their job. Now more than ever, we need public offices utilizing up-to-date technology that can fight cybersecurity threats.
With a Ph.D. in computational science, I was alarmed to learn that on October 11, 2021, DeKalb County was the victim of a ransomware cyber-attack. The county computer system was down for eight days until October 19. As County Clerk and Recorder As County Clerk and Recorder, I will modernize the office for safety and efficiency, which will prevent cyber-attacks on voting data and county records. My knowledge of computer systems and practices will benefit the residents of DeKalb County as I keep their data safe yet accessible as we transition the office to twenty-first century standards.
2. Transparency and Accountability:
I will establish tech-based communication between the Clerk’s Office and voters. Communication is constantly changing, especially with the speed of technological advancements. Elected officials must communicate clearly, efficiently, and effectively with their constituents. With better communication comes transparency and accountability. I will empower voters to hold myself and other elected officials accountable for our actions and inactions.
3. Voting Rights:
Voting rights are sacred to me because of my experiences under the Vietnamese authoritarian government. I cherish that our right to vote is the ultimate power that we, the American people, have to shape public policies that affect our daily lives. Insufficient staffing at specific polling places dismisses turnout among students, renters, and the young electorate. We all know that young people are movers and renters. For election authorities to continue to create confusion and intimidation regarding the young electorate’s residency to create barriers to voting for not-yet-homeowners and young voters is unjust and unAmerican. Most of us, average working-class Americans, are renters once in our lives. That is no reason to be excluded from having a voice in making public policies that affect our lives.
Taxes are a top concern raised by voters locally. What do you do within your position to address residents’ tax burden?
As County Clerk and Recorder, I am sensitive to the resident’s concerns about the tax burden. However, the County Clerk and Recorder’s Office has no authority in increasing or decreasing the property tax bill.
The assessor’s office is the one that assesses the property. According to Illinois State’s law, the County Clerk/Recorder gets recommendations from the assessors and equalizes property tax assessments. The final amount of a tax bill is determined by what local taxing bodies levy and the County Board’s approval.
As the County Clerk and Recorder, I will ensure to quickly process the tax collection. The tradition in DeKalb County is terribly slow. I will change that.
I also want to make sure that residents know that there is a board of appeal. They have the right to appeal their property tax assessments if they think it was unfairly done.
What level of confidence do you think voters have in local elections? What is driving that confidence or lack thereof?
I believe the active voters of DeKalb County have confidence in our elections. Despite the lack of transparency from the current election authority, there is no evidence of voter fraud at any level of elections. Thus, residents have no reason not to have confidence in our local elections.
The more significant issue here is that cynicism about politics diminishes turnout.
Last year, the turnout for the municipal election in April 2021 was about 15% compared to the historic turnout of 75% for the presidential election in 2020. It was sad, especially when our locally elected positions - the city councils, mayors, village presidents, school board - have a more significant impact on our day-to-day lives than our federally elected officials. We are allowing the powerful few to silence the ordinary many.
As the County Clerk, I will establish tech-based communication and revamp voter education to address the low turnout.
It also could increase voter confidence if the election authority didn’t make careless mistakes like sending out a new voter registration card with the wrong polling place and a typo in the URL for the County Clerk and Recorder website. I will ensure thoughtless mistakes that could cost taxpayers money will not happen under my leadership.
If you could redo any one decision made by the county clerk in the last four years, what would it be and why?
We are facing a severe shortage of election judges this year, and there is a reason for that.
If I could redo one decision made by the County Clerk in the last four years, it would be to ensure voters and election judges would not have to choose between their health and participation in our democracy.
In 2020, amid the pandemic and election laws changes, as the President of the League of Women Voters of DeKalb County, I hosted a town hall with the County Clerk to address voter concerns about the upcoming election. The hesitancy of the County Clerk to conform to the safety standards required for operating safely in a pandemic discouraged voters and most likely led to a staffing shortage of election judges, many of whom were over sixty-five and felt vulnerable to participate in their election duties.
As a public servant, I believe it is crucial that one can set aside his/her personal understanding of science or lack of to serve the public safely and efficiently.
In addition to elections, the county clerk’s office handles a myriad of duties. What do you bring to the table that your opponents do not?
My Ph.D. training as a computation scientist makes me uniquely qualified for this technical position. I am trained to generate, process, and store enormous data. I have the technical knowledge to select pieces of equipment and vet tech vendors to bring the best service for the lowest price. I can deliver safe, complete, and available records.
Growing up under the Vietnamese communist government taught me to cherish democracy. If you enjoy your freedom to be critical of your elected officials and government at all levels, you must insist on having equal access to the ballot for all eligible voters. When we all vote, we will continue to have free, fair, and accessible elections. And democracy prevails.
Being the President of the League of Women Voters of DeKalb County proves that I am an effective leader in the DeKalb community. Under my leadership, the League set and accomplished many goals, including organizing 18 voter registration events and hosting multiple candidates forums in the five months leading to the November 2020 election. Our effort partly contributed to the DeKalb County’s historic turnout of 75% in the 2020 election.
My professional training, my story of overcoming hardships, and my effective community leadership uniquely qualify me to deliver secure, fair, and accessible elections and safe, complete, and available records.