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updated: 9/21/2012 4:38 PM

Deborah Barry: Candidate Profile

Lake County board District 19 (Democrat)

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  • Deborah Barry, running for Lake County board District 19

    Deborah Barry, running for Lake County board District 19




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



City: Deer Park


Office sought: Lake County board District 19

Age: 64

Family: Married, two children, two grandchildren, one expected. Rescue parrot and rescue dog.

Occupation: Advertising consultant, specializing in local-business branding and family-business building.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature, Smith College, 1970

Civic involvement: Deer Park Neighbors, Community Advisory Council of WBEZ (NPR), Village of Deer Park Zoning Board of Appeals, Greater Waukegan Development Coalition; Founder KnitUps Community Circle; former Village of Deer Park Tourism/Economic Development Committee, City of Highland Park Design Review Commission; Reunion Chair Smith College Class of 1970

Elected offices held: None

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Full representation of citizens and business in all decisions, including increasing public forums and expanding Public Comments at Open Meetings (example, the Dimucci Property hearings). Vox populi!

Key Issue 2

Development for its own sake does not result in a better bottom line. In this economy, any new development must be served by public safety, roads, water, sewer, etc. These needs are rarely covered by the revenue of the development. We ought to look at available or underused properties with an eye to what will enhance live in Lake County. Foreclosed homes might become Affordable Housing for our police, teachers, nurses and other service professionals. Even small parcels of land can be farmed, to meet the demands of organic outlets and cooperatives. That could also be vocational training for youngsters or people returning to the work force.

Key Issue 3

Lake County must ensure equal opportunities for women and minorities; those opportunities will be reflected in the census of county workers and the pay scales. There is no room for paying one person less than another for the same work. On the same note, there is no reason for a public sector employee to be paid more than a person doing the same job in the private sector. It's time for a top-down review of salaries, benefits, pensions and job descriptions--in concert with ethics officials.

Questions & Answers

Now that golf at Fort Sheridan is a dead issue, what types of amenities should be added to the site?

After gathering consensus from homeowners who are now stakeholders, new amenities must retain the unique sight lines of the special setting on Lake Michigan. With 40,000 Veterans living in Lake County and many others who served at Fort Sheridan, a cemetery would be appropriate and the need is great, keeping markers in ground. More military history could be taught either with discrete plaques along walking trails or additional museum space, again with a low profile or in-ground construction.

What, if any, new ethics-related rules are needed for the county board and county staff?

Elected officials are subject to the Open Meetings Act; that law should be amended to include staff, consultants and vendors. Lake County should lead that effort by making such a change its own strict practice. The two-plus years of county staff's efforts on the Dimucci rezoning application is a perfect example of a de facto run-around the OMA, intentional or not. The default setting is "OPEN" for discussions that impact other governmental entities. Term limits are essential; endless political service--often the result of the electorate paying too little attention to county actions--leads to cronyism and qui pro quo voting. Officials, staff and citizens must have access to an ethics review process that protects them from reprisals. The Waukegan State's Attorney's office is counsel to the Lake County Board; they do not represent citizens or villages in conflict with the board. We must turn to the Illinois State's Attorney's office for opinions in advance of what may become questionable procedures or jurisdiction issues.

Government transparency has been an important issue in recent years. Name one thing the county government or forest preserve district should do to improve transparency.

The county and forest preserve district do an excellent job in terms of solid web sites with good navigation, audio and video resources and easy access to additional information. Great improvement would be made with more interactive online resources--Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube--as well as more frequent open forums. Citizens and local business do care about county/forest preserve issues; often, there is only one opportunity to comment and that needs to change.

Should the forest district use eminent domain to acquire the land needed for the final link in the Des Plaines River Trail? Why or why not? If your answer is no, how should officials go about acquiring that land sooner than later?

Eminent domain is a seizure of property; in this economy, remuneration is bound to be disastrous to property owners. Eminent domain should be exercised only in situations of essential public safety and transport. The Des Plaines River Trail is a wonderful resource for the public, but it not "mission critical"; it must not be completed by force.

What will be the biggest issue facing the county over the next decade, and how do you propose dealing with it?

Potable water is a tremendous challenge; thankfully, there are many excellent agencies working on that challenge. For me, the biggest issue is the aging of Lake County; average age increased almost 10 years since the 2000 census. That challenges everything: school populations, property values, real estate tax revenues (given older homeowners various exemptions and possible grants), and the very sense of community. Lake County has always been the dream location of young families, the tradition for multiple generations. Single family homes and related property taxes are beyond young buyers. Commuting to Chicago is too expensive, and the county attract the kinds of business that employ young professionals. We also need expanded entertainment options to bring new homeowners as well as visitors to this area. The county ought to look at what the Waukegan Downtown Development Coalition is doing, instead of development for development's sake. Without more young people in our county, who will lead county government in the future, support local charities and PTOs, shop in our stores? We also have lost almost all our local farming, just at a time when people want local dairy and produce.