Elizabeth (Liz) Chaplin: 2022 candidate for DuPage County Board District 2


Party: Democratic

Office sought: DuPage County Board District

City: Downers Grove

Age: 57

Occupation: DuPage County Board member

Previous offices held: DuPage Water Commissioner 2002-2010


Q: Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming in the future and how the county should deal with them.

A: Last year we took a conservative approach to our financial plan due to the uncertainty of how COVID-19 would impact our budget. That approach paid off, as the county finished 2021 the year with a projected General Fund tax surplus of $24.1 million. The surplus allowed the Board to fund important initiatives and make purchases that would have otherwise been taken out of reserves. Our reserve balance remains strong and remains higher than the County's policy of 25% of the operating budget.

The biggest pressure is salaries and employee benefits.

As long as the county continues to make fiscally responsible decisions and keeps a strong reserve balance we should be in good shape today and future years.

Q: Is there a specific service or amenity that is lacking in the county? If so, how do you propose to provide and fund it?

A: Currently our food pantries are struggling to keep up with the demand. We have learned that dairy products are coming in close to the expiration date or are expired and much of the fresh fruit and vegetables are spoiled. We are working to address this with our community partners by coming up with new ways of food distribution including using a refrigerator truck owned by the county to speed up deliveries to local food pantries. Affordable housing is lacking in DuPage County. The county is considering accessory dwelling units. ADU's are a second housing unit on a single-family residential lot. Although this does not fully address affordable housing needs it is a step in the right direction.

Q: Should the county board continue to start its regular board meetings with an invocation? Please say why or why not.

A: Since Member DeSart raised the question in 2018, as to whether or not the county should continue to have invocation before meetings, we have heard from many different faith leaders including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Agnostic communities making our invocation much more inclusive and diverse. While I'm not convinced that prayer belongs in public settings, it has been educational and refreshing to hear from diverse voices.

Q: Does there need to be more bipartisanship and cooperation on the county board? If yes, what would you do to help make that happen?

A: During my 10 years on the board I have worked well with my colleagues across the aisle. I believe it is important we work together when we can in the best interest of the people we represent. For example, last year, I was especially proud to work with my colleagues on fair redistricting maps. I was as equally proud to stand with the Democratic caucus when the Republicans put forth a resolution asking that the taxpayers pay the bill for doing a full recount of the ballots cast for the Auditors race. The law is clear, the petitioner, a Republican, pays the bill, not the taxpayers. I also believe it is important to treat each member with respect. I'm proud of the way I run the Finance Committee meetings. Allowing every member to speak and not interrupting or interjecting. We can disagree while being respectful and professional. That is the best way to foster good collaboration and bipartisanship.

Q: If your political party has control of the county board after the November election, how would that benefit DuPage residents?

A: Holding the Democratic majority is important for a number of reasons. Under Democratic leadership we support and have fully funded public safety. We have made social services with a focus on food insecurity, housing instability, mental health and substance abuse a priority. We are strong advocates for economic development. We led the effort to lift the county's prohibition on recreational sales of cannabis, which will bring new businesses, create new jobs and provides generous sales tax revenues. Protecting your vote, under Democratic leadership DuPage County purchased the most secure election equipment available. We are strong advocates for safe gun laws, women's rights and the environment. We are responsible stewards of your hard earned tax dollars. In order to keep DuPage moving forward it's important to keep a Democratic majority.

Q: The COVID pandemic put a spotlight on the need for mental health services. What role should the county play in this?

A: The DuPage County Board has played a significant role in addressing mental health. For example, earlier this year we allocated $10.6 million in ARPA towards our Transformational Grant program which includes funding for nonprofits specializing in mental health. Rep. Deb Conroy was able to secure $5 million for a mental health intake center. The intake center would be an alternative to jail for someone suffering with mental health issues. I believe building the intake center is the most important and significant role the county can play in addressing mental health.

Q: What is the single most important issue facing your district and how should the county address it?

A: Access to clean, safe water is the most important issue in my district. Recently, I have had a number of residents from the Liberty Park neighborhood contact me about the possibility of assistance from DuPage County to help them move from their private wells, which have poor water quality, to Lake Michigan water. I have personally experienced what it is like to be impacted by well contamination and know the importance of making Lake Michigan water available to the residents of DuPage County. The county has dedicated ARPA funding for assisting the residents of Liberty Park as well as all of DuPage County to transition to Lake Michigan water. I would like to see the transition to Lake Michigan water completed. Making sure all residents in my district and across the county have access to clean, safe water is a high priority of mine.

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