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updated: 2/14/2014 10:40 PM

Karen Roothaan: Candidate Profile

Metro. Water Reclamation District (Green)

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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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BioQ&A

 

Bio

City: Chicago

Website: www.greens4mwrd.org

Office sought:

Metro. Water Reclamation District

Age: 60

Family: partner Laurie Livermore, daughter Nishi

Occupation: retired community college teacher

Education: BA Mathematics, University of Chicago

MS Mathematics, Brown University

Civic involvement: In my local community (Southeast Chicago) I have cofounded two community gardens and an urban forestry group: Trees R Beautiful. I serve on the Affordable Housing Committee for the Alliance of the Southeast. On a citywide level I participate in the Sustainability Leaders Network.

Elected offices held: none

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

Questions & Answers

Why are you running for this office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is that?

I am running because the Green Party asked me to run. The two issues that motivate me the most are storm water management and reducing the level of toxics such as heavy metals and prescription drugs that enter our watershed.

What differentiates you most from your opponents in the race?

I do not have any political obligations to the existing power structure and my main responsibility will be to protect the public interest in water reclamation.

What special knowledge or experience do you have that particularly qualifies you for this office?

I participated in Chicago Conservation Corps training, which includes water use, conservation, and management. I manage my own rainwater as well (please see last question)

What should the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District do to prevent disasters like the widespread flooding that affected the North and Northwest suburbs recently?

We need to improve both grey and green infrastructure in cost-effective ways. An excessive reliance on grey infrastructure (pipes and tunnels) can be costly and given our expectation of increased flood severity, we need to act on the neighborhood and household levels as well. Rain barrels, and the associated equipment and knowledge, need to be widely available. We also need to involve the landscape industry in increased use of rain gardens and bioswales for institutions, individuals, and businesses.

Finally, is there anything we haven't asked about that you feel we should know?

I manage much of my rainwater at my home with rain barrels. I direct overflow to the trees in my parkway and also use it in my washing machine. My experience has shown me that although water management can be deceptively simple in theory, practicing what we preach is not always easy.

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