Office sought: DuPage County Board chairman
Occupation: State Representative, 46th District
Previous offices held: Elmhurst Unit District 205 board member
Q: Why are you running for this office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
A: I am running for chair of the DuPage County Board to bring issues such as mental health, community safety and affordable housing to the forefront. Mental health has been a passion of mine for years and I am proud to be a leader in that conversation. There is so much more that we can do as a county to help families address mental health issues that impact our everyday lives.
Q: If elected county board chairman, describe three ways you would contribute to the position.
A: First and foremost, serving as chair will be my full-time and only job. This commitment will allow me to focus on reducing the burden on taxpayers.
Secondly, I will collaborate with fellow county board members, community stakeholders and neighbors to create a bottom-up approach to policy making that will give residents a real voice in county government.
Thirdly, I will use my experience as a state legislator to prioritize resources that will move DuPage forward.
Q: Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming in the future and how the county should deal with them.
A: I have spent my entire career advocating for a better statewide strategy to address the mental health crisis facing our communities. As DuPage County Board chair, I will establish a Mental Health Committee to explore real long-term solutions for mental health care in DuPage.
The housing crisis is one of the major issues impacting our families every day. As chair, I plan to have the DuPage County Board actively pursue development partners willing to prioritize thoughtful, affordable housing designed for families.
Finally, I want to transform how we prioritize public safety in our communities. Residents and public safety officials agree that we need to see better county-municipal collaboration when approaching public safety. We can do this by working with community leaders, the county sheriff and municipal public safety officials to create joint services and shared policies.
Q: Is there a specific service or amenity that is lacking in the county? If so, how do you propose to provide and fund it?
A: The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act will provide federal funds to communities across the country to help repair public infrastructure. While funding is not expected to arrive immediately, we need to be prepared to spend that money when it arrives. I will ensure that the county uses these funds to fix our roads and bridges with a mind toward the future.
DuPage County’s infrastructure will need to adjust for the onset of a green economy, but those changes cannot be placed on the backs of taxpayers. The county board should prioritize partnerships that improve our infrastructure for the future while also keeping costs low for taxpayers and families.
Q: On a scale of one [low] to 10 [high], how is the county managing its growing diversity? What steps, if any, would you take to improve the county’s performance?
A: Low. Over the last few years, the county has included diversity and inclusion in its strategic planning initiatives, which is a great start. When elected chair, I will make diversity programming and hiring a priority.
One of the first things I would do when elected would be to hire a chief diversity officer who would focus on developing and implementing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives from staffing at the county to programming offered with staff, policies and departments throughout the county.
It is time DuPage, the second-most populous county in the state of Illinois, becomes a leader for these types of initiatives. We should invest in public transportation routes and review duplicative “double dip” tax levies to ensure residents aren’t unduly burdened by repetitive taxes and keep more money in the pockets of you, the DuPage residents.
Q: The COVID pandemic put a spotlight on the need for mental health services. What role should the county play in this?
A: Mental health is a second pandemic that is getting much less attention than it deserves. As state representative, I have spent my last 10 years leading on, and passing, bills related to mental health.
Too many residents in DuPage County struggle silently with mental health issues every single day. If elected, I will lead a public education campaign to raise awareness to the 988 helpline and fight to ensure our neighbors have the resources necessary to help those in crisis.
As chair, I’ll expand partnerships with existing mental health providers in the county and make them available to all DuPage residents. We truly need an all hands on deck approach and I am open to hearing any and all ideas.