Both DuPage District 2 candidates tout their independence

One of two Democrats on the DuPage County Board is trying to fend off a challenge from a Republican vowing to bring independent ideas to the panel.

Democratic incumbent Elizabeth "Liz" Chaplin says she's been an independent voice on the GOP-dominated board since she was first elected in 2012 to represent District 2.

"You need to have checks and balances," the Downers Grove resident said. "We need some deliberation and good discussion."

But Richard Blass - the Elmhurst attorney trying to unseat Chaplin next Tuesday for a two-year term on the board - insists he wouldn't be a yes-man for Chairman Dan Cronin, a fellow Republican.

Blass said he has his own independent ideas. If elected, he will pursue initiatives to benefit District 2, which includes all or parts of Addison, Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Lisle, Lombard, Naperville, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Villa Park, Westmont and Woodridge.

"I would take my position on the board very seriously," said Blass, adding that he would seek feedback from residents.

Chaplin, who works in accounts payable for a national company, said one of her priorities is to address issues related to DuPage's budget. Revenue is flat and expenses are going up, she said.

While she doubts how much the county can cut from the budget, Chaplin said the board must see if there are ways to increase revenue - without a property tax hike.

"We might have to start looking at other sources of revenue," she said. "That's just the way it is."

Blass said he doesn't support increasing property taxes.

He said DuPage needs to market itself and promote economic development. Getting new businesses in DuPage would generate more sales tax revenue for the county, he said.

"The money is going to come in," Blass said.

Despite the need for revenue, Chaplin questions whether one solution is a 2013 state law that gave DuPage the ability to charge a countywide stormwater utility fee.

Chaplin said voters should decide if DuPage enacts the fee. "I would like to see it on a referendum," she said.

Meanwhile, Blass supports the idea of imposing court fees to raise money to outfit sheriff's deputies with body cameras.

"The body cameras are an important tool to verify exactly what's going on in instances when an officer is on duty," said Blass, who is a former deputy police chief.

Chaplin said she supports the idea of getting body cameras, but doesn't want to increase court fees to pay for it.

Instead, Chaplin said the county could pay for cameras by cutting the pay of county board members and eliminating their health and pension benefits.

"If you just got rid of the health care for the part-time elected officials, that would save a tremendous amount of money," she said.

Chaplin became a county board member after serving on the DuPage Water Commission from 2002 to 2010. Blass previously served as a trustee on both the Berkeley village and library boards.

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