DuPage County Board District 1 candidate Maria Reyes answered Shaw Local’s election questionnaire for the DuPage County Board primary election.
Voting ends for the primary election on the evening of June 28.
Full Name: Maria A. Reyes
What office are you seeking? Dupage County Board District 1
What offices, if any, have you previously held? Addison Fire Protection District Fire Commissioner
Women’s Club of Addison Treasurer
St. Philip the Apostle School Board Member
Occupation: Police Officer
Education: Bachelors of Art in Criminal Justice Sciences
Masters of Art in Law, Justice and Public Safety Studies
Campaign Website: https://www.reyesma4dupage.com/
What steps should DuPage County health and sheriff’s departments take to prevent opioid addiction and overdose?
I respond, along with our fire department, to all drug overdose emergencies. As the first responder on scene there have been many times I have provided life saving measures by administering Narcan (naloxone) and reversed the effects of the overdose, saving that life. Other times it was too late.
The last few years the calls for opioid overdoses have increased and even more so due to the recent pandemic. When I am not responding to the actual emergency, I am providing families, desperate to help other family members, with local resources such as DuPage County’s “HopeDuPage.”
Many of the more recent opioid overdoses that have caused death are the direct result of the drug being cut with fentanyl (due to the competition in the drug market). Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that is extremely potent rendering it more addictive. I have seen fentanyl, not only in opioids but also other drugs such as cocaine, Xanax, pills and a combination of these drugs.
I propose the distribution of fentanyl testing strips. While the strips may not test how much fentanyl is in the drug, it will provide an indication of the type of drug that is being used. This effort would allow the user to make more accurate decisions and hopefully discourage use. With knowledge the user could also utilize harm reduction strategies to reduce the risk of an overdose by having Narcan on hand, looking out for symptoms of an overdose, even sharing the information with associates who use to prevent a cluster of opioid related overdose deaths in DuPage County.
What is your opinion of the county board’s actions and initiatives since Democrats assumed control of the board two years ago?
I have watched DuPage County Board meetings and have observed Democrats tend to disagree a lot, even amongst themselves.
Do you support the merger of additional county offices/departments?
I support the merger of additional county offices/department only if it provides the same or more services at no costs to the residents of Dupage.
I recall over 10 years ago, the Addison Police Department dispatched out of the police department for police and fire services. When ETSB (Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) of DuPage reached out to the Addison Police Department about the issues with the radio frequency, the Addison Consolidated Dispatch Center (ACDC) was created.
Currently, ACDC dispatches for several local police and fire departments, including the DuPage County Sheriff’s office. One of the benefits of a consolidated dispatch center is during a critical event police officers can communicate with the fire department or other agencies assisting on the scene, when we could not in the past. This effort addressed a major safety issue for first responders.
The use of a consolidated dispatch center also has cost saving benefits to participating agencies. I believe it is crucial to find innovative ways to become more efficient and effective, if those expectations are not met then I would consider researching alternatives.
I must add the recent Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act has an anticipated cost of $759 million according to the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. The costs include meeting required mandates such as technology upgrades, costs that include funding for and video storage for body cameras, vigorous training, recruitment and retention. Smaller police agencies in DuPage County may not be able to sustain those costs and be forced to consolidate with other agencies, possibly even the DuPage Sheriff’s Office.
It is important we maintain consistent dialogue about the possibility and effects consolidating police agencies in DuPage County will have as the result of the Safe-T Act mandates.
What are your overall thoughts of the sheriff’s department’s job performance?
Sheriff Mendrick works hard and truly buys in to the many programs he has created. The many initiatives, all grant funded, have been recognized across the nation. I feel DuPage County Sheriff Jim Mendrick has done an amazing and noteworthy job in DuPage County!
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?
Currently, employers are facing challenges with staffing due to job displacement during the pandemic. I would suggest a work release of detainees (non-violent offenses) that provides a tax break with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for local businesses. The program would help the detainee reintegrate into the community, reduce recidivism and not return to the correctional system.
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.
The DuPage foundation will have a planning committee to oversee the grant program and it is important member(s) of the DuPage County Board actively participate on the committee and become involved during this partnership. It is a significant opportunity for the DuPage County Board to comprehend the lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic with food insecurity, housing instability, mental health and substance abuse. The particulars of the grant program would assist the County Board with efforts for pandemic preparedness.
Assess the DuPage County Health Department’s actions to combat COVID-19.
At the start of the pandemic, information regarding DuPage County services were not readily available to everyone through out the county and any information later disseminated was only in English. Eventually there was more outreach, as information became available in different languages, and the DuPage County Health Department was quick to advocate community needs by hosting one of the first vaccine clinics. Overall, I feel the DuPage County Health Department, much like everyone else, did the best they could with what was known at the time.
What changes, if any, need to be made related to the pandemic?
I feel the County was not prepared and was reactive to the pandemic.
As a first responder during the pandemic we did not have adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available to us for a long time. It made it difficult for us to do our jobs and help others when we were exposing ourselves to the virus.
We were all competing for resources. We can not rely on the state and must be self sufficient. During the pandemic we had an outpour of businesses that donated supplies (eq. masks, gloves, cleanings supplies, hand sanitizers, etc.). We should actively identify and form a partnership for purposes of consolidating resources during critical incidents such as pandemic.
We should examine our shortcomings with our response during the pandemic and comprehend the lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic so that we can be better prepared.
What actions can the DuPage County Board take to minimize the tax burden on residents while not sacrificing services?
The DuPage County Board should evaluate all spending to determine effectiveness and prevent wasteful spending. It is equally important that services remain the same or better for residents that do not put a tax burden on them.
How would you encourage economic and employment growth within DuPage County?
I would encourage economic and employment growth in DuPage County by encouraging businesses to stay. Businesses should be offered a safe community that should not serve as a burden to the business. Accessibility to the business’s customers such as good roadways, different means of transportation, hotels/dining and commercial that are at no cost to residents are equally important.
Do you think there is a local crime problem? If so, what needs to be done about it?
Yes, I believe there is a local crime problem. Recent reckless legislation aimed to defund and dismantle the criminal justice system has embolden criminals and contributes to the national crime crisis. The random and violent spike in crime in DuPage has already had serious safety and financial implications. We can not sit back any longer and continue to watch politicians jeopardize our safety for their social experiment. It is time we take back out communities, the residents of DuPage deserve it.
I have been a police officer for 24 years and as a former Detective and Crime Prevention officer I will foster relationship residents and businesses in an effort to combat crime in our communities. It is imperative law enforcement serve on the DuPage County Board. For too long legislators have made decisions with little to no input from law enforcement.
As a member of the DuPage County Judicial and Public Safety Committee, I intend to fully support the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, along with local law enforcement agencies, with current training standards, combat crime by creating team building and strategic approaches to policing and ensure adequate manpower is maintained. As a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officer, I will support mental health and rehabilitation initiatives that are proven to reduce recidivism.
What local road and bridge projects should be a priority to get done in the county?
As an Overweight Truck Enforcement Officer I understand the impact commercial vehicles have on our roadways every day. DuPage County Board District 1 has communities that are reputable for some of largest industrial and commercial properties which includes one of the larges international airports in the nation. With more economic and residential development our roadways, specifically bridges, in residential areas and bridges over highways require more frequent inspections and maintenance.
Do you support decreasing local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?
It depends on whether I could support decreasing local property taxes. Most tax bills support local government (eq. schools, park district, police/fire, etc.) and a small percentage to DuPage County services. Any decrease to local property taxes should be done only after a study of its impact has been conducted and evaluated. If the cost of the study becomes excessive than the decision to decrease property taxes, the decision should be reconsidered.
Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?
Yes I support stronger county government ethics laws. Elected officials should be held accountable for all wrong doing including criminal behavior. The Ethics Officer should be fully supported by the ethics commission during and after an investigation. All Constitutional elected offices should also require ethics policies that include State Officials and an Employees Ethics Act.
The stronger the government ethics laws the more fair, efficient and honest the government.
The residents of Dupage, and in this State, deserve the nothing less than government that has integrity and is fully transparent.
What are your thoughts on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?
The spirit of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was to give the public the right to access government documents and records. FOIA’s intended purpose was to give the public the right to know what its government is doing. I support strong government ethics laws and FOIA provides the transparency while encouraging good government.
Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.
As a DuPage County Board member I would advocate that all governmental meetings continue to be recorded and made readily available to the public. I would also make myself available to my constituents by attending community meetings in the towns that I will represent in my district.
These efforts on my part are a necessary role in my position as county board member. It will not only allow me to extend myself but assist me in identifying concerns.
Being transparent is the best way to serve the voice of the people I will represent.
What would you push for as a member of county government to boost local businesses?
I would push for a safe environment and build relationship that would support the business. Accessibility to the business’s customers such as good roadways, transportation, hotels/dining and commercial, that are at no cost to residents, are also important to boost local businesses.
Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign nondisclosure agreements with private businesses?
Yes, I believe governmental employees and officials should be allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses. By allowing private businesses to enter into a non-disclosure agreement you protect the privacy of medical information protected by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
A non-disclosure agreement with social workers and therapists at the DuPage County Health Department would protect clients who suffer from disclosing mental health issues.
Matters in the criminal justice system involving probation protect the identity of juvenile offenders and with child protection and victim services would protect the identity of juvenile victims.
Would you push for or against government officials and employees being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?
I would push for government officials and employees being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses. There are some contractual issues that could create liability if there is not a signed non-disclosure agreement especially in cases involving mental health issues and juveniles.