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updated: 2/14/2014 10:40 PM

Josina Morita: Candidate Profile

Metro. Water Reclamation District (Democrat)

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  • Josina Morita, running for Metro. Water Reclamation District

    Josina Morita, running for Metro. Water Reclamation District


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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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City: Skokie


Office sought:

Metro. Water Reclamation District

Age: 33

Family: I am Chinese and Japanese American. My mother was born in the Kenwood neighborhood in Chicago. She works in public health and volunteers as a disaster medical relief worker with the U.S. Army. My father is a writer and community organizer. My two sisters live in New York. One works in theatre management and the other is a community organizer.

Occupation: I have worked on policy in the non-profit sector for the last fifteen years. I am the Director of the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations, a grassroots multiethnic coalition of community organizations advancing racial and economic justice policy.

Education: I received a BA in Sociology and a BA in International Race Relations from Pitzer College and a Masters in Urban Planning and Public Policy with a focus on Economic Development from University of Illinois at Chicago.

Civic involvement: I serve on the state's Racial Profiling and Data Oversight Board and Asian American Employment Plan Council. I serve on the Village of Skokie's Environmental and Sustainability Council. I sit on the Board of the Woods Fund of Chicago and the Asian American Action Fund of Greater Chicago. I am a member of the Niles Township Democratic Organization and the Skokie Caucus Party.

Elected offices held: Delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention

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 for MWRD because I believe that water is one of the most important issues for my generation, and the next. MWRD is the most important government agency people know very little about. It is a $1.4 billion agency that is the second largest land-owner in Cook County. As a resident of Skokie, I know how important the issue of stormwater management is to our families and communities. I have been personally impacted by flooding. I know how economically and emotionally devastating it is to deal with your house being flooded; I know what it feels to fear the next rain. As an urban planner and a resident of the northern suburbs, I will prioritize this issue to keep storm water from backing up in our basements, and into Lake Michigan.

My priorities are

Clean Water: We must protect our lakes and rivers for this generation, and the next.

Green Jobs: We must invest in green jobs and innovation that provides prevailing wages.

Flood Prevention: We must develop local green infrastructure to protect our homes from flooding.

Fairness: We must establish reforms, support women/minority owned businesses and protect project labor agreements

What differentiates you most from your opponents in the race?

I am an urban planner that cares about water. I grew up under drought conditions in California and I have worked on environmental justice issues for over twenty years. I bring my track record of working on policy and my passion for social and environmental justice. Currently there is only one commissioner from the suburbs; if elected I would double that representation and add another northwest suburban voice to the Board.

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

As an urban planner, I bring my knowledge in regional development, land use and infrastructure planning to help protect our water on the supply side. As a community organizer, I bring my grassroots relationships across the county and my background in community education to engage communities in local solutions for water preservation to reduce demand and waste.

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

This is a complex, long-term problem that will not be solved overnight. The District's Watershed Management Ordinance was a significant step towards establishing standards and incentivizing green infrastructure. Over time, this work can be expanded in partnership with municipalities, home- and business-owners and all residents. Increased education and engagement on issues of water management and local solutions including rain barrels, green roofs, and increased permeable surfaces will help us collectively move forward. MWRD should encourage, and provide technical assistance if needed, to promoting permeable surfacing. MWRD cannot mandate or manage any municipal programs, but can be a resource for providing research, educational materials and model language for municipalities to update zoning and construction laws to reflect advances in stormwater management and environmental planning. While we cannot control the amount of water which falls from the sky, we can, however, take steps to reduce the amount which races through our yards, streets and basements.

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

Candidate did not respond.