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updated: 2/10/2012 4:17 PM

James Healy: Candidate Profile

DuPage County board District 5 (Republican)

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  • James Healy, running for DuPage County board District 5

      James Healy, running for DuPage County board District 5

 

 

 

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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Naperville

Website: http://electhealy.com

Office sought: DuPage County board District 5

Age: 54

Family: Married 20 years to Beverly Healy (nee Long) 3 Children - David (18), Eric (13) and Alayna (9) Dog - Maggie May Cat- Natalie

Occupation: Attorney Partner in the Law Firm of Goldstine, Skrodzki, Russian, Nemec and Hoff, Ltd.

Education: John Marshall Law School JD/Law (1993) Honors Graduate - Graduating Fellow Elmhurst College BA - Urban Planning (1982) International City Managers Assoc. / Elmhurst College Certificate in City Management (1982)

Civic involvement: (Most recent Present and Former Affiliation) Naperville Chamber of Commerce - Legislative Committee Aurora Economic Development Commission Naperville Development Partnership Sieze the Future Development Foundation (Aurora) Naperville Parks Foundation Naper Settlement - Heritage Society Exchange Club Scouting (Cub and Boy Scouts) Homowners Association Director Homeowners Confederation Representative Children's Center Board Naperville Township Republican Organization Lisle Township Republican Organization Naperville League of Women Voters Save our Doughboy Committee

Elected offices held: DuPage County Board Member, Dist. 5 (2000 - Present) DuPage Forest Preserve Commissioner, Dist. 5 (2000 - 2002) City Councilman, DesPlaines, IL (1987-89, 1991-93) Republican Precinct Committeeman (1996 - Present)

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

A good, dependable, transportation system is pivotal to DuPage County's economic success, creating jobs and improving our quality of life.

Relying on one mode of transportation is not efficient or effective.

Our studies and our own experiences tell us we must approach transportation from a multi-modal perspective.

DuPage County's transportation system must be multi-faceted and include options to: (1) reduce vehicle congestion through improved, and in some cases expanded roadways, (2) expand access to commuter rail, and (3) implementation of a full bus rapid transit system. Traffic congestion prevents us from effectively moving our residents and our goods, which adversely affects our local economy and our quality of life.

Traffic congestion will only get worse, but there never seems to be enough money to expand our roadways.

So we must prioritize. First, we need to fully implement/improve traffic light coordination, HOV lanes, and stagger work hours by major employers - including the County. With what funding we have available, we need to preserve and modernize the existing bridges and roadway infrastructure.

Finally, as funding can be found, major projects like western access to O'Hare should be tackled.

These major projects will not only improve our transportation system, but will also in themselves create economic development and jobs for the region. Second, we must expand access to commuter rail.

The least expensive option is to better organize existing bus routes to the stations to make it more user friendly for people to commute by train.

We also need to expand parking at the stations, and create satellite lots that can be connected to the stations by bus service.

We must also never give up on the Star Line.

The sale of the EJ&E to CN was devastating to our area, and the operation of the line by the CN supports our long held position that the takeover of the EJ&E will not benefit this region. Third, bus rapid transit needs to be tried on a fuller and more robust scale.

Reaching transit hubs (like O'Hare)via dedicated bus lines as envisioned by the County and DuPage Mayors and Managers Associstion is a relatively inexpensive alternative to building more lanes of highway.

Bus rapid transit can help tie together regional attractions and other transit systems (like rail) without the use of a car.

Key Issue 2

The County needs to follow through on IT investments.

The only way for the County to meet the needs of the future is with a robust IT system that allows us to improve productivity and expand services without increasing personel costs.

A few years ago, as Chairman of the IT Committee, I urged the County to realize our computer systems were obsolete, in disrepair, and lacked even minimal safeguards.

After much debate, 2 years ago the Board made the decision to move ahead with a complete overhaul of the County's IT operations.

Taking advantage of bonding options available to the County, and a financing package allowing us to pay for the bonds without any increase in taxes, the County is now on a multi-year program to overhaul our IT systems.

While we are implementing this new system, we need to look for further ways to maximize operations and exppand services without increased costs.

This will require the Board to constantly review and seek out new ideas in every area of County Operations.

Key Issue 3

Reducing the size of government is a keystone to my being in elected office.

I fully support the efforts we have made over the years to consolidate and reduce the size of government.

But we can do more.

Many years ago as a young City Councilman I spearheaded a referendum to institute a professional City Manager form of government.

I spearheaded a second referendum to reduce the size of the City Council from 16 to 8 members.

Both referendum's passed overwhelmingly.

To lead by example, I did not run for re-election volunteering to be one of the Councilmen no longer in office. I believe DuPage County has reached the stage in its life where we no longer need 18 County Board Members.

Ten years ago we reduced the County Board from 24 to 18 by splitting off the Forest Preserve District.

During these last ten years the County has continued to mature, and I believe 18 County Board Members are no longer required. In addition, I agreed with all the candidates for County Board Chairman in the last election that there is a need to further professionalize our County management.

While state law does not allow for a County Manager, it does allow for a professional County Administrator.

It is my intention to propose to the County Board for discussion the following series of changes to DuPage County Government.

1)

DuPage County should hire a professional County Administrator, and give the Administrator the authority necessary to carry out the management and policies of the County. 2)

The DuPage County Board should put a referendum on the November, 2012 ballot, asking the voters if the number of DuPage County Board Members should be reduced from 18 to 12.

By law, this reduction could take affect after the 2020 federal census. 3)

The DuPage County Board should discuss other referendums that are available to reduce the number of elected officials at the County Level.

In total, the number of elected officials in DuPage County could be reduced by 8 or more.

The total savings in todays dollars would be approximately $1 milllion dollars, and the County Government would be professionalized, streamlined and more efficient. I am confident the County Board will agree these are important issues for us to discusss, and for the voters of this County to decide.

Questions & Answers

Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?

The County Board confronts you with challenges beyond your imagination.

While State and Federal Legislators are removed from the people and problems they address; county government is front porch, day to day America, and a challenge I can not resist.

I deal on a weekly basis with such issues as bringing new businesses to the area, creating jobs, improving the local economy, transportation improvments, balancing budget, cleaning up the environment, making our roads safe for our children, drinking water, sewers, chickens.

These challenges are why I am running for re-election; because I believe I do, and I will continue to make a difference. My experience and education in local and regional economic development and planning, law, transportation and local government, allow me a unique opportunity to recognize, address and solve problems confronting our area and the County.

I have been an effective County Board Member because of my ability to develop a consensus to solving a problem, and then following through.

I believe that by opening lines of communication we can identify, and solve, any problem.

Accordingly, I meet regularly with our area Mayors, City Councils, Park and School Boards, and many of the homeowner associations and community groups in this District.

If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?

I am very proud of the number of accomplishments I have made at the County.

While space is short, I will highlight some recent accomplishments.

General Budget:

Balanced budgets every year; reduced County portion of property taxes 10 of the last 12 years; yearly line by line review of the budget with all departments; pushed to require the County to look at budgetary impacts 3, 5 and 10 years out. Transportation:

Worked on Naper/88

and Eola Road / 88 interchange projects; major roadway improvements to Hobson, Ferry, 75th Street and Eola Roads; working at the national level for DuPage funding and regulatory changes; helped implement a safe roads to schools program which has been adopted by the State and other counties across the country. Economic Development - Job Creation:

Our efforts at the County and our pro-business attuitude is what is helping to attract and retain businesses in the County and especially in District 5.

New or expanded business such as: Navistar, BMO/Harris, Sun Coke Energy and Peerless Industries will create/retain thousands of jobs for area residents, and greatly improve the economic outlook for the County. Transparency in Government:

While it is a term used often today, just 6 years ago there was almost no transparency, and I was leading the fight for the County to be the first in the State to release/open its books to the public.

Because of my efforts all Committee and Board minutes, agendas, budgets, expenditures and a whole host of other information was made available to the public on the County's webb site.

In addition I helped draft the County's first ethics ordinance, and have continued to look for ways to make DuPage County Government open to the public. Environment:

I was the Board's point person for clean water efforts for the NIKE Park and Lockformer areas; I remain the Board's point person for the thorium clean up of the DuPage River and efforts to ensure the federal funding remains in place; I worked to make the Forest Preserve District's vehicle fleet 100% alternative fuels, and now I am working with the differnet County Departments to do the same. Trails:

Joint creator of the Southern DuPage Regional Trail.

This 47 mile trail went from concept to completion in just 6 years, and at a fraction of the cost of other trails.

Prescription Drug Card:

At no cost to the County, I worked with NACo to bring this program to DuPage.

In only 4 years our residents have saved over $1 million dollars on their prescription drug purchases because of this effort. Children's and Family Center:

It took 6 years of hard work, but I am proud to say the Center starts constuction in March, and will be completed in November.

Working with the State's Attorney I have worked to secure funding, approval and construction of this facility to help children who are victims of crimes, and families who are experiencing severe problems.

Using no property tax dollars, the facility will bring hope to children and families throughout the County.

How can the county best manage its growth, growing diversity?

DuPage County grew dramatically over the last twenty years.

Over the last 10 years I am proud to say we managed that growth well, and we are well placed for the future in terms of infrastructure and other County functions.

DuPage remains the best County in the state to live, work and raise a family, and is a role model for how government works best, without raising taxes. Even before the economic recession of the last few years, the County was already reaching maximum capacity, and growth was slowing.

We continue to use best management practices in all County Departments to maintain the high level of service our residents demand, at the lowest possible cost.

We also have in place infrastructure improvement plans to continually improve the movement of people and goods throughout the County, protect our homes and business from floods, and carry out the functions of County government from the Courts and jails, to the Health Department and Convo Center.

These plans include new capital projects for roads, bridges, facilities and trails; but also recognizes and plans for maintaining the infrastructure we already have. The County in the next twenty years will have to deal with a rapidly aging population, and the growing diversity of our residents.

The County already has one of the best Convo Centers and Senior Citizen programs in the country, but as the population ages even further, we will need to better integrate those programs and services to reach those seniors with the greatest need. Finally, we have also seen an increase in non-english speaking residents into the County.

Based upon the last federal census, the County was mandated to implement a new bi-lingual election process to meet federal requirements.

The County early on recognized these changes were coming, and budgeted the funds necessary to make these changes.

If incumbent, are you satisied your attendance at county board/committee meetings has been adequate? Describe the rough percentage of meetings you've attended. If non-incumbent, are you aware of the incumbent's attandance record and is it adequate?

My attendance record for Committee, Board and other County meetings is over 95%, one of the highest in the County (although the BGA had me in the 85% range - they did not count all meetings).

I miss 2 days a year because of vacation.

I attend all my Committee meetings, unless there is an issue at the County that needs my attention at the same time the Committee is meeting.

Many times I have been meeting with staff on County issues while a Committee I served on was meeting.

I prioritize what is more important for me to attend; the Committee meeting, which may only have housekeeping matters on its agenda; or continue meeting with staff about a breaking issue for the County.

In addition to the Committee and County Board meetings, I attend at least one hundred other formal meetings every year with staff, or as the representative for the County.

When all those meetings are inlcuded, I am very please with my attendance record of only missing 2 days per year.

What is your stance on county board members' pay? Too high, too low, just right? Would you propose any changes' Do you think county board members should receive pensions' If not, would be willing to pledge not to take one?

There are 2 types of County Board Members (financially speaking that is); (1) Those who are financially better off by being a County Board Member, and (2) those who are adversely affected financially by servicing on the County Board.

Those in the first group can afford to serve on the Board without any pay if they so choose, either because they are independently wealthy, retired/do not work, or work at a position that is not affected by being away from their job for 20% of the work week.

I'm confident most people will agree, a majority of people in the County can not be away from their jobs 20% of a work week without being financially affected.

I am in group 2, like most people in the County would be, I am adversely affected financially by my service on the Board.

The current pay structure of the Board covers the financial loss from my regular employment as a partner in a law firm, and I calculate my actual pay to be $5 - $15,000 per year (depending on the year).

Over the last 6 years I voted several times to reduce the salary of the County Board, and eliminate stipends for Chairmen of Committees.

These reductions were needed to send a message to County employees that we were all in this recession together, and everyone will need to make sacrifices.

I thought it best to take these actions, realizing full well they adversely impacted my family.

Altogether, we have reduced County Board salaries by over 10%.

If the economy worsens, I will once again support a reduction in County Board salaries.

Until then I support a continued fair salary structure that allows an average citizen of the County to serve on the Board, and to reimburse them for the loss of income from their regular jobs.

If we do not fairly reimburse Board Members, we will end up with a Board consisting of only wealthy, retired or non-employed people.

The majority of County residents would be financially prohibited from serving on the Board.

There actually is a simple answer to the pension issue for County employees and elected officials, get the state legislature to allow us to opt out of IMRF going forward, and allow us to implement a 401(k) plan.

Every County Board Member, and many employees, have supported this position for many years, and it has been part of the County's Legislative Agenda for the past several years.

Last year Representative Fortner submitted our bill allowing an opt out of IMRF going forward, and a 401(k) plan for the County.

Unfortuneately, the bill was defeted in Springfield.

It is my intention to ask that the bimitted again this year.

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