James Zay: Candidate Profile
DuPage County board District 6
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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.
City: Carol Stream
Office sought: DuPage County board District 6
Family: Married, wife Katie 22 years. Two children; Jimmy 12, Tyler 8
Occupation: Vice President/Purchasing Mgr. Service Stampings, 20 years
Education: Immacualte Conception High School, Elmhurst College, BA Political Science & History
Civic involvement: Knights of Columbus, Corpus Christi Carol Stream Park District, Youth Coach DuPage Pads Volunteer Carol Stream Consolidated District93,Bullying Task Force Carol Stream Travel Baseball, Vice President
Elected offices held: DuPage County Board 1999 - present DuPage Water Commission - Chairman DuPage County Forest Preserve Commissioner, 1999-2002 Wayne Township Trustee, 1997-1999 Wayne Township Republican Committeeman
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
My number one issue is the economy. Many people are having a difficult time finding jobs, paying the mortgage and basically living check to check. I understand and have seen it all over the County. Government cannot look to the people by raising taxes; the people cannot afford it. The County has done a good job of lowering its portion of your property taxes, but must continue to look to reduce its size and costs. Everyone who is elected to an office should understand we all get out money from the same people and we have to reduce the burden upon them. By looking at consolidation we might be able to provide then same serves, but cut out a layer of government that is not needed. We have to make sure that this is well thought out and not rushed so we don?t pass the responsibility on to Cities and Villages, thus making them spend more money and not saving any money in the long run. We have to encourage businesses to come to or stay in DuPage County. We have a great County with great schools, low crime and we have to sell this along with any incentives we can to bring business in and keep them here.
Key Issue 2
Flooding. District 6 has had to endure majors flood events over the last 3 years. In 2010, the County passed bonding to address the flooding on the west side of the County. As Chairman of the County Stormwater Committee I worked hard to make the east side of the County understand that we had to spend money for the flooding issues in the western part of the County. We have 3 major projects underway for a cost of 18 million dollars. Carol Stream, by working together with the Park District and the Village the Armstrong Park reservoir is moving forward. Part of Armstrong Park next to Klein Creek will be used to store stormwater and pump it out away from the homes. Bartlett, Beaver Pond Project, this area was devastated for weeks by high flooding. Again by working with the Village, Park District and the Forest Preserve we will help move the water out to a new reservoir on Forest Preserve Property away from the homes. Warrenville; major flooding has taken place in downtown. The County and City will replace two bridges, re-align and deepen the West Branch of the DuPage River, add berms to protect the homes, business and a school. We are also updating our study on Winfield Creek to see what can be done to help with the flooding issues in Winfield.
Key Issue 3
Public Safety: Almost 80% of the County Budget goes toward public safety. We need to continue to fund the States Attorney's office and the Sheriff's Department. DuPage County is a great place to live and raise a family and one of the main reasons is the low crime rate. We need to invest in new programs that protect our children, internet crime and bullying is growing in our communities. The County is in the process of building a new Children's Advocacy Center and Neutral Site Exchange on the County Complex. This new building will help our most at risk children; those who are victims of crime. We have worked with Sheriff Zaruba to make changes at the jail to double bunk prisoners which is saving money. Work witt States Attorney Berlin to ensure the work loads and cases are and appropriate amount and if we need to hire more assistant States Attorney's to have timely trails and court cases.
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?
It has been an honor and privilege to serve the people of District 6 on the DuPage County Board. For the last 12 years I have strived to provide the 6th District with strong, independent representation. The trust they have placed in me is a great honor and I look forward to being their voices on the important issues facing our families and communities. Having grown up in DuPage County and having a young family, the future of our County motivates me to do my best to continue to keep DuPage County the great place it is to raise a family and work.
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 proud of many accomplishments that the County has done during my terms. First, I have voted 11 out of 12 years to lower the ?County's' portion of you property taxes. The County was growing and a fast rate, unlike other taxing bodies, we actually cut the amount we have been taking in. The County's budget was reduced from $574.1 million in 2002 to $434.3 million in the 2012. Between 2002 and 2012, the County has reduced fulltime budgeted positions by 268, saving at least $18.1 million. In 2010 the County issued 21 million dollars of Recovery zone bonds for Stormwater projects, 18.1 million is going for projects in District 6. We had serve flooding in many areas and we have 3 projects underway in Carol Stream, Bartlett and Warrenville which will help reduce the flooding damage in these areas. I worked on the elimination of alcohol at Diamonds Adult Club which had become a major safety concern for our residents. I worked very hard with the City of West Chicago to stop the placement of a second waste transfer station in our area. We have made major road improvements to the District (County Farm Rd by building an underpass which helps Emergency Vehicles reach Central DuPage Hospital.) Worked with Carol Stream to get safe drinking water to unincorporated residents when contaminated wells were found. Worked on ethics and purchasing reforms to make DuPage County one of the toughest in Illinois.
How can the county best manage its growth, growing diversity?
I think we have seen the growth in DuPage County slow down and the surrounding Counties taking off. District 6 might be the most diverse district in the County and the most challenging. We have many high, middle and lower income areas. We are a melting pot of many nationalities and religions. As a Board member you have to be very open minded and get enough information to make an informed decision. We have many needs from low income housing to supporting our local food panties. We need to work together with other local government bodies to find out the needs of our residents and how we together come up with solutions. The County has cut its size and made the tough decisions years ago when we saw that the economy was in trouble. By making those cuts we are in a better position to deal with this down turn. The County's year end General Fund cash balance grew from $23.5 million to $53.4 million - 127% - from the end of 2002 through 2011, without increasing your property taxes.
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?
I have been on the County Board 12 years and I have only missed (3) meetings during that time, so my attendance would be around 99% for County Board Meetings. During this same time my attendance at committee meetings would be at 95%. As Chairman of the Stormwater Committee for the last 11 years, I have only missed (1) meeting for a family emergency. I take my position very seriously especially when people vote you into this position, you are there voice at every meeting and you need to be there to make sure our district is represented and looked out for.
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?
The County Board has lowered the salaries over the last several years of Board Members. When the County Board was lowering salaries, the Forest Preserve was raising theirs. The County has cut back on any re-imbursements that we can receive, so when the economy was down we lowered our pay. Unfortunately all people are different and some Board Members work harder than others, for some the pay might be too high, and those more dedicated Board members I feel the amount is appropriate. When I started at the County I at first did not take the pension, I did join it a few years later after seeing what time I was spending on the position and the amount of time I was away from my workplace.
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