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updated: 10/19/2012 3:09 PM

DuPage forest candidates spar over transparency, land acquisition

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  • Marsha Murphy

      Marsha Murphy

  • Michael Braun

      Michael Braun

 
 

Familiar opponents are squaring off in the race to determine who will represent DuPage County Forest Preserve District 1.

But Democrat Michael Braun, who lost to Republican incumbent Marsha Murphy during the 2008 general election, insists he's doing more than "filling a spot on the ballot" this time around.

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"I'm running because I want to expand the forest preserve and I feel our forest preserve district does not have enough representation," said Braun, a 58-year-old Addison resident. "The board has been run strictly by Republicans. We need a Democratic view on the commission."

Murphy, who has been a forest preserve commissioner since 2002, dismisses Braun's biggest complaint that the district isn't transparent and open with the public.

"There's always room for improvement," the 64-year-old Addison resident said. "But I think we're very transparent."

Murphy points to the "Transparency Portal" on the district's website as an example of trying to provide more information to residents.

"I think we're the only forest preserve in the area that has an 'open checkbook' (online)," Murphy said. "Our salaries are listed on the computer. People can see who has filed FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests and why."

The candidates also differ on the issue of land acquisition.

Braun said he believes the forest preserve needs to buy more land within District 1, which includes all or parts of Addison, Bensenville, Elmhurst, Itasca, Lombard, Roselle, Villa Park and Wood Dale.

"We don't have the same amount of land that other districts have," he said.

Murphy said there are not many large tracts left in DuPage. "We're still pursuing any small tracts along waterways," she said.

And while the forest preserve owns more open space on the west side of the county, Murphy points out District 1 has two of the forest preserve's three golf courses.

In a recent candidate questionnaire, Murphy said the forest preserve district has a "very good" land acquisition policy.

"The district is very judicious in its prioritization and selection process of those parcels that are ecologically or socially important," she wrote.

Braun disagrees. He said he would work to make the land acquisition policy more aggressive.

"Marsha has been there 10 years," Braun said. "I think it's time for a change."

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