Q. Why are you running for county board?
A. I am running for a seat on the DuPage County Board in District 1 because we need more diverse representation at all levels of government. We need voices from various professions, backgrounds, perspectives. We need empathy, kindness, determination and common sense.
We need a new generation of leadership for DuPage County, and if we can bring balanced representation to the county board, we will see an improved quality of life for DuPage residents.
Q. Describe two ways you would contribute to the board.
A. I believe strongly that leading begins with listening. This means that in order to lead, we must listen to the needs of those we are striving to represent. I have spoken to many people in the course of my campaign and I have heard their concerns and their issues.
I bring to the county board my willingness to lead by listening first, and I bring a strong desire to collaborate with other elected officials so that by working together we can bring positive change in the areas where it is needed.
I also bring a global perspective, having lived abroad in both Egypt and in Thailand, and my life experience in the international arena gives me unique and very useful tools in making connections with others.
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. If we have improved fiscal oversight, we can better fund necessary services such as flood alleviation and we can spend money on fixing issues that are important to residents, such as airport noise. These things can only happen if we improve the budget, and I intend to help make that happen.
Q. With DuPage County’s budget being squeezed by state funding cuts and other factors, what initiatives would you support to increase revenue and/or save money?
A. There are several ways to save money: DuPage County Board members are paid almost twice the salary of other county board members, and they just voted to give themselves a raise. We need to institute a 10-year salary freeze. We need to stop providing benefits to DuPage County Board members unless there is a demonstrated need.
DuPage County Board members outsource their lobbying to various firms at a cost of $282,000 in 2018 alone. This outsourcing needs to be either reduced or stopped completely.
Kane County Board members, for example, spend zero on lobbying because they do it themselves.
Several DuPage elected officials receive a car allowance of $450 per month. This needs to stop immediately. We need to end the corrupt practice of handing out large contracts to campaign donors and enforce clear, firm rules for contributions. We need to end no-bid contracts for county projects.
We can also increase revenue through economic development, small business support, and increasing the opportunity for green jobs, especially in the field of solar energy.
Q. The county has been focused on consolidation of services and government agencies. How effective has that effort been and how could it be improved?
A. I support consolidation as long as it doesn’t interfere with providing essential services to residents, but the ACT initiative is not actually saving money. It is more about public relations than it is about actual consolidation and savings.
The merging of the election commission into the county clerk’s office, on the other hand, is an excellent idea and will bring a savings of about $300,000 a year.
Q. What is the single most important issue facing your district and how should the county address it?
A. The budget has not been handled correctly and the county will soon face a deficit if this is not rectified. If the budget issue is resolved, we will then have the funds to bring back Meals on Wheels, address the opioid epidemic, and give much needed attention to mental health care and mental health education/destigmatization.