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updated: 9/21/2012 4:35 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: 55

Family: Married to Beverly Healy (nee Long) for 20 years. Three (3) children: David (18), Eric (14) and Alayna (10). Two dogs: Maggie May and Gidget - and one cat: Natalie.

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

Education: JD - John Marshall Law School, 1993 Bachelors in Urban Planning & Political Science - Elmhurst College, 1982 Certificate in City Management - International City Managers Association/Elmhurst College, 1982

Civic involvement: (Most recent - Present and Former Affiliations) 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 Foundation Board; Exchange Club; Scouting (Cub and Boy Scouts); Homeowners Association Board; Homeowners Confederation Representative; Children's Center Board; League of Women Voters; Save Our Doughboy Committee; Naperville Township Republican Committeeman;

Elected offices held: DuPage County Board Member, District 5 (2000 - Present); DuPage Forest Preserve Commissioner, District 5 (2000-2002); City Councilman, DesPlaines, IL (1987-89, 1991-93); 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 pivitol to DuPage County's economic sucess, creating new jobs and improving our quality of life. Relying on one mode of transportation is not efficient or effective. Our studies and our experience tells 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 commuter rail parking, 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 congestio will only get worse, but there never seems to be enough funds 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 cen be found, major projects like western access to O'Hare should be implemented. Thes major projects will not only improve our transportation system, but will also 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 train stations to make using the bus more user friendly. We also need to expand parking t the train stations, and create satellite lots that can be connected to the stations by bus service. We must never give up on the Star Line. The sale of the EJ&E to the CN was devastating to our community, and the operation of the line by the CN supports our long held fears that the sale 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 lanes as envisioned by the County and DuPage County Mayors and Managers report is a program that must be implemented. Bus rapid transit to "destination" points like colleges, major employment centers and major shopping districts can work, IF the process and routes are user friendly, timely, and the bus stops/shelters are heated and closed to the elements.

Key Issue 2

The County needs to complete all phases of its IT (technology) plans and 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 when I was 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, the COunty 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 increasing property taxes, the County is now in a multi-year program to overhaul the COunty's IT operations. While we are implementing this new system, we need to look for further ways to maximize operations and expand services through IT programs and without increasing costs. This will require the County Board to constantly review and seek out new ideas in every area of County operations. We must not allow short sighted fears to delay our implementation of these improvements.

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. Most recently we closed the County Juvenile Center, and joined with Kane and other area counties in staffing only one facility. This one consolidation has saved DuPage County over $1 million dollars just this year. But we can do even more. Many years ago as a young City Councilman I spearheaded two referendums (1) to institute a professional City Manager form of government, and (2) to reduce the size of the City Council from 16 to 8 members. Both referrendums passed overwhelmingly. I believe DuPage County has reached the stage in its development where we no longer need 18 County Board Members. Ten years ago we reduced the Board from 24 to 18 members. During these last 10 years the County has continued to mature, and I believe 18 members are no longer required. I have tried to open the discussion on this issue, but it has not been heard. If the County Board will not place the referndum on the ballot, then I will work to establish a petition drive to ask the voters in the general election in 2014 if they agree we should reduce the number of County Board from 18 to 12 members. I also agree 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 that DuPage County make the necessary changes to its rules and ordinances to hire a professional County Administrator and give them the authority necessary to carry out the management of the County. This will take "politics" out of operations, and further professionalize administration of the County. In addition, the County Board should discuss other refendum that are available to ask the voters if they believe we should combine offices and reduce the number of elected officials at the County level. If approved by the voters we could reduce by 8 or more the number of elected officials in DuPage County. County government would be further professionalized, streamlined and more efficient, and the total savings in salaries and related costs would be almost $1 million a year.

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 further 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 improvements, balancing the budget, cleaning up the environment, making our roads safer for our children, drinking water, sewers, I even deal with issues about 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 for 14 years; reduced County portion of property taxes for 10 of the last 14 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 attitude 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 six 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 web 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 different 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 six 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 four years our residents have saved over $1 million on their prescription drug purchases because of this effort. Children Center and Family Center: It took six years of hard work, but I am proud to say construction has started on both Centers last month, and will be completed in March, 2013. Working with the State's Attorney I have worked to secure funding, approval and construction of these facilities to help children who are victims of crimes, and families who are experiencing severe problems. Using no property tax dollars, the facilities 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 alredy 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 20 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 bilingual 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 Meetings, County Board Meetings and other County related meetings is over 95%, one of the highest in the County. I miss two days last year because of vacation, and I have not missed a day this year. Unless there is an issue at the County that needs my immediate attention at the same time there is a Committee Meeting, I attend all my Committee Meetings. There are times I have been required to meet with staff on County issues while a Committee I served on was also meeting. I prioritize what is more important for me to attend; the Committee Meeting, or the meeting with County Staff. Often times a Committee Meetings only has housekeeping matters on its agenda, and in those cases I will continue meeting with staff about a breaking issue for the County, and not attend the Committee Meeting. In addition to the Committee and County Board meetings, I attend at least 100 other formal meetings every year with staff, or as the representative for the County. When all those meetings are included, I am very pleased with my attendance record of only missing one - two 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 two 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 serving 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 form their job for over 20% of the work week. I'm confident most people will agree, a majority of people in the County cannot be away from their jobs over 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. I calculate my actual pay to be $5,000 - $15,000 per year (depending on the year). Over the last six 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 County 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 Country'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. Unfortunately, the bill was defeated in Springfield. It is my intention to ask that the bill be submitted again this year.

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