Back to DuPage County board District 6
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.
Family: I owe a great deal to them, my actual family and those I consider such. Their patience, unwavering support, and humor has helped me to become who I am, where I am. I love them more than they ever will know.
Occupation: Psychotherapist/ Health care consultant/ Humanitarian relief coordinator
Education: BS -Psychology from Loyola University Chicago
MA -Professional Counseling from Concordia University
MA-Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology
MPH -Public Health from UIC
1 yr of PhD -International Psychology (Organization Management) from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Civic involvement: -Currently, I am a DuPage County Precinct Committeewoman in Wayne Township 19th Precinct
-2x elect VP of Health for the United Nations Association, Chicago
-Coordinated or participated in the aid or services in 7 countries.
Activities were boots on the ground or organizing resources for the region.
Elected offices held: This is my first time seeking public office.
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?
I am running for DuPage County Board, District 6 because I feel our communities are at a crossroads. Standards and rights we have grown to expect, such as civility, leadership that responds to the needs of the people, and access to health care are slowly being chipped away. I work in a trauma 1 level hospital emergency room where patients are just barely hanging onto life. I am a psychotherapist by trade, so I collaborate with the team on the social and psychological aspects of one's care. Most people don't plan their accidents. For most, it's their worst day, and those without health insurance are hoping things don't get any worse.
The consequences of both no health insurance and gaps within the health care system are staggering. I've seen patients with astronomical co-pays of $1,000, patients who cannot afford a specialist, or the wait time is extremely long. High health care costs mean families go into debt or they elect to do without quality of life enhancing and life saving measures. In such cases, there is only so much a health providers can do. Many health care entities try to absorb the costs, but if we follow the trends, it leads to more facility closures.
I believe it takes public health initiatives, and smart policy to mitigate some of the gaps we are experiencing in care right now and I have some ideas on how to get there on the county level.
What is your stance on county board members' pay? Too high, too low, just right? Would you propose any changes?
Before there are pay increases, I would revisit the criteria that justifies the increased cost. Is it a merit-based increase? Is there an increase in revenue to meet the additional expense? Is there transparency or an oversight committee that approved the proposed salary? Most importantly, has there been any dialogue with taxpayers on whether a salary increase makes sense? Until such criteria is met, I would suggest a freeze. On my precinct committee page for Wayne Township, and when I visit homes, I encourage honest conversation about issues like board compensation. The concerns of the people should be the foremost concern of the board, not the rate of their personal compensation.
With DuPage County's budget being squeezed by the state funding reductions, what initiatives would you support to increase revenue and/or save money?
Growing up in DuPage, I've learned that economic growth in business and new residential developments bring prosperity. However, since 2010, businesses and residents have been leaving. To slow the exodus, I propose for local businesses to partner with local trade schools, colleges and universities to explore internship and apprentice programs. Incentives, perhaps in the form of scholarships, would be given to students who choose STEM track, and participate in county specific projects such as stormwater management, tech for seniors, and high-energy particle physics, to name a few. It would also allow a transition into the workforce for newcomers and those seeking second career employment. New thinking and new opportunities bring new streams of revenue.
One thing I love about DuPage is the hands-on, can-do spirit of the community. Whether it is helping flood victims, feeding children abroad, tirelessly fighting for a cause or participating in faith-based event, the community rallies together and gets things done. I've organized a few events and it's an impressive sight. With this in mind, why can't we use the spirit of volunteerism can also ease the reliance on state funding? There are great organizations out there who encourage helping the community. We can support and utilize these existing resources. To initiate this, township precinct data and an added a piece to evaluate can be used. Discussion would be needed to determine the scope of the roles. I would apt to hold town halls on this to discuss how it may work and get community feedback.
What are your thoughts about the county's Accountability, Consolidation and Transparency Initiative? What role should DuPage play in efforts to streamline and consolidate local government?
I have reviewed the Crowe Horwath Assessment and the ordinance on dissolving the Fairview Fire Protection District, and the ACT progress report. It seems like an adequate audit on the sustainability of various programs. I am a trained auditor for disaster relief and things I look for are humane care, sustainability of resources, at the budgeted cost. In Fairview, for example, it was documented that dissolving the unit and utilizing another did not affect response time nor the quality of care. For the consolidation of the election commission, a similar view. If there aren't any gaps in services that form with the consolidation, and if all identified parties are genuinely represented, I support the action. Overall, the evaluation revealed it was not efficient to keep the various units open at this point in time.
Back in October, Slate estimated that Illinois owes over $16 billion in unpaid bills. This number is growing with interest rates. I think we at the local level need to take steps to stabilize spending. Increasing taxes is one approach to decreasing debt, but trimming redundancy and obsolete programs puts less strain on taxpayers.
What initiatives, if any, do you have in mind for your specific county board district?
I know the county is divided on whether to embrace the opioid epidemic as a legitimate problem for our area. However, if we look at the data, multiple sources reveal that drug related deaths have risen to become one of the leading causes of death in DuPage in 2016. According to the DuPage Coroner, there were 75 heart-related, natural cause, deaths that year. However, there were 101 drug related deaths in the county.
As a certified drug counselor with experience in global health, I know it takes a multi-prong approach to combat epidemics. It takes excellent programs and initiatives like Narcan carried by first-responders and Challenge Addiction that offers support and guidance to young people.
An initiative I would propose would be to utilize the legal approach home rule to adopt an involuntary commitment law for substance use. Illinois is one of the few states that does not have such a measure in place. Essentially, it mandates specific individuals to a drug evaluation without incarceration or arrest. I have seen so many patients in the ER who would have benefited from such an ordinance.
Along the same vein, I also support the SAMSHA initiative to equip loved ones with narcan education and training. It is this group of individuals who are more likely to encounter family with a history of opioid addiction, first. It has the potential to save many lives and the training is pretty quick and straightforward.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Working in social services for decades could make my list of salient issues quite lengthy. However, in brief, I would say to ensure the rights and protections for the most vulnerable is important: universal health care, offer fair wages, equality, and yes, our climate is changing.
In health care, I started a 501c3 in 2000 to address the lack of health insurance for an underserved population in the community. In general, when meeting with clinic managers, business execs, and private practice entrepreneurs, both locally and abroad, I found they are willing to negotiate and entertain alternative ideas in pursuit of the greater good.
Maintaining quality, state of the art, public education like in District 93 schools where children learn coding and families have the option of dual language programs as young as kindergarten, is also important. Education should be of quality and affordable.
These days, I believe that what was once only debated on the national stage has now fallen to the jurisdiction of local governance. We cannot expect the federal administration to act in our best interests, in areas mentioned above or others. I believe we can raise the quality of life in DuPage. Please join me with your support.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
On some level wisdom/inspiration can be gained from everyone. It's just a matter of being open to the lesson and willingness to act on it.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Competing in track and ÂŽpÂŽe fencing, I learned you may have an opponent but the toughest competition is yourself. Go for a PR every tournament.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I try to live without grudges/ regrets. For me...living richly in the past limits future accomplishments. Onward! Ã’Failure is not final, only feedback.Ã“~R. Allen
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
My degrees are science-related, mostly psychology. I use it (behavioral economics) at work daily to understand trends and find appropriate interventions.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be courageous and surround yourself with positive people.