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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.
Office sought: Bloomingdale Township Clerk (4-year Term)
Age: Candidate did not respond.
Family: Married to Chris Fitzpatrick
Occupation: HR Assistant at PepsiCo Global R&D in Barrington
Education: BA in Journalism from Central Michigan University
Civic involvement: Currently the Chair of the Bloomingdale Township Democratic Organization and past president and other offices of the Bloomingdale Women's Club. A member and supporter of the Sierra Club and AAUW (American Association of University Women).
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Awareness Township government is so under the radar for most taxpayers. My highest priority is increased public awareness of Bloomingdale Township government. Very few residents know that township government exists, what responsibilities they have, how tax dollars are spent and what services are available. Improving the township website will be a valuable source of information at very little expense. It should include job vacancies, contract bidding, township committee reports, links to important resources and community events, budgets, annual financial reports, and other pertinent information. It should not be necessary to have to request FOIAs (Freedom of Information Act) to access public records.
Key Issue 2
Reform Township government is long overdue for reform. Looking at the annual budget, salaries dominate the services provided. As an example, in the 2010 General Assistance Fund actual expenditures, one of the most important services the township provides, $144,982 is paid out for salaries and compensation, $42,087 is what is spent on actual Hardship/Emergency and General Assistance. Something is wrong with this picture.
Key Issue 3
Waste One of the responsibilities of the Township Clerk is to be a witness at bid openings for both the township and the Road District. As the ex-officio clerk of the highway district, the Clerk maintains the records highway commissioner and countersigns all road district orders for payment prior to audit or approval by the Township Board. This is a significant responsibility. The taxpayers of Bloomingdale Township deserve a watchdog of their tax dollars and not just a rubber stamp.
Name the three most important goals or objectives this board should tackle in the coming term. Prioritize them, and briefly discuss why you believe each to be critical, and how the board should go about addressing them.
I believe in SMART objectives: 1. Stop the waste. Best practices need to be employed in all areas by cutting bloated salaries and benefits of the elected officials. Eliminate secret contract bidding and political cronyism. 2. More services. Improve road and bridge repairs and services by incorporating more cost effective and environmentally friendly innovation. Public transportation for seniors should be expanded. Coordinating with outside organizations and improving the township website will give the township residents the knowledge and information of services available. 3. Accountability. Residents need to know what township government does to make our community life better. Instead of electing the four trustees at-large, they should be elected by district. The trustees would be more accountable to the taxpayers in their home district and that all areas in the township would have representation on the board. 4. Reform. We should utilize the many varied citizens, businesses and organizations in our community to create the best outcomes in all our endeavors. By seeking out the best ideas and involved all segments of our community in determining new directions and updating existing programs. 5. Transparency. By having a website that gives the residents an on-going account of all that the township is doing, this will provide pertinent information on how the tax dollars are spent by their elected officials.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
By statute the role of township government is to provide services for the unincorporated areas. Out of the 111,700 residents in Bloomingdale township only 10,000 residents live in unincorporated areas yet everyone pays township taxes. Today, Bloomingdale Township considers it's responsibilities for the entire township to include the Assessor's office for property taxes, transportation, senior programs and General Assistance to all those in need. For the unincorporated area, the largest chunk of taxpayer dollars goes to the Highway Commission for 58 miles of road. I think there could be a better cooperation of the services with the municipalities, especially in the Highway Departments.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
Township government does have some responsibilities that other layers of government do not. Assessment of local property should remain a major function of township government. The maintenance of roads and bridges in the unincorporated areas are still an important role providing that it is done in the most cost-effective manner as possible. The Senior programs and the responsibilities of General Assistance are a valuable service to the residents but should be coordinated with other local social services and community organizations.
In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
Elected township officials receive extremely generous salaries and benefits. Conversely, elected school board officials do not receive any compensation for their efforts yet they typically spend several hours in each monthly meeting. Township Trustees spend less than 7 hours annually in meetings and are paid $8,040, receive a pension and healthcare insurance which includes dental and vision care benefits. Illinois statutes mandate that officials must work at least 600 hours annually to qualify for pension benefits. Trustees do not work anywhere near this amount of time although there is no proof that they do or they don?t. The Township Clerk position is a part-time position as staff is hired to handle the day-to-day operations and is paid $20,000 in addition to a pension and health insurance that is fully paid by the taxpayers. If elected as Township Clerk, I will donate 50% of my salary to the Township food bank. Moreover, I will not accept a pension, health, dental and vision insurance and will encourage the other elected township officials to do the same.
What specific background or experience do you bring that makes you the best qualified candidate to serve as an elected official in the township?
I have a career in administrative services and strive to promote best practices in all instances. My corporate experience will give a new perspective to how things have been done in township government. I've been a Bloomingdale resident for 26 years and involved in local civic organizations plus my political activities for more than 20 years have been as a taxpayer's advocate challenging the status quo. I believe that government can work well for the citizens by focusing on the essentials and promoting fiscal responsibility.