Lauren Nowak: Candidate Profile

DuPage County board District 6 (Democrat)

Updated 2/10/2012 4:17 PM
  • Lauren Nowak, running for DuPage County board District 6

    Lauren Nowak, running for 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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Bartlett

Website: -

Office sought: DuPage County board District 6

Age: 24

Family: Parents Peter & Donna; sister Josie.

Occupation: Currently a private tutor; I coordinated an After-School Program from 2009-2011.

Education: Bachelor of Arts from Knox College (Galesburg, IL). Degrees in Environmental Journalism and Spanish.

Civic involvement: Board Member of Feeding Northwest DuPage, AmeriCorps Alumni, Chair of Bartlett Cool Cities, Wayne Township Precinct Committeeman, Recording Secretary of the Democratic Party of DuPage County, Member of Sierra Club Member, Member of DuPage Young Democrats, Lifetime Member of the Girl Scouts of the USA, Member of the Legion of Young Polish Women

Elected offices held: N/A

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Increased Communication with County Residents

When citizens are disconnected from the political decision-making process our democracy and freedoms are weakened. Many people I spoke with felt a disconnect between themselves and their local County Board representatives, and that must change. Residents should not have to go out of their way to determine what the Board is doing, rather the County Board should do everything in its power to reach out and be available to all members of the community (not just those who are already involved with local politics and processes).

I propose:

* Well-advertised monthly community forums where residents can easily and openly interact with Board Members.

* A quarterly newsletter sent by the Board to all households notifying them on recently decided and upcoming issues. The newsletter should also notify residents about services provided by the County.

* A blog written by alternating Board members on a bi-weekly basis to clarify County Board meeting minutes, decisions and votes for citizens who do not have time to attend meetings, research and decipher the minutes themselves. A blog was proposed previously by a current Board Member but has not yet been enacted.

* Increased email communication and social media updates via Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. about issues affecting voters.

* Surveys mailed out with the quarterly newsletter or survey questions posted in local papers about upcoming votes and budget issues.

Key Issue 2

Increased Accountability and Openness

This campaign issue goes along with communication to ensure that members of the Board actively seek feedback from residents and are readily willing to demonstrate personal responsibility for their time and decisions on the Board. Residents should be made aware of the current decisions made the Board, and also of proposed County-wide Strategic Planning.

I propose:

* Every Board Member must keep a categorized log of the time they spend working on County Issues (especially members accepting a pension). * Every Board Member's log should be updated and made public via the County website on a monthly basis. * Every Board Member compiles their voting history and explains what their votes mean and why they voted the way they did -- especially on large-scale or contentious issues.

* A clear and straight-forward explanation of County revenues and budget expenditures be compiled and readily publicized so as to simply explain County-wide monetary allocations for residents.

* Citizen input into the salary of local elected officials.

Key Issue 3

Work with other Board Members to prioritize the development of programs that fit the needs of the community, and to eliminate or alter programs and practices that are not effectively serving the community.

For example:

* Longer-lasting infrastructure improvements such as replacing asphalt or concrete with pervious pavement. This will reduce the need for repairs and will help to address stormwater issues.

* Providing adequate, sliding scale child care and senior day care services so that caregivers who are also providers for their families are more able to pursue education and careers. * Fortifying community volunteer programs that focus on early childhood development and after school tutoring for children of working parents. * Expanding new local jobs by working in tandem with villages exploring the community aggregation of energy. If villages choose an energy company focused on developing Illinois renewable jobs, not only will residents -- not just the county save up to 30% on energy bills, but DuPage can solicit renewable companies to develop jobs in the DuPage Technology Park/Business Center.

Questions & Answers

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?

The lack of diversity on the board worries me. The best and most innovative solutions cannot come forward without people from truly different backgrounds who undoubtedly represent all residents. There is a lack of checks and balances that occurs when members of a governing group are too similar. The current Board Members may have represented DuPage County 20 years ago, but they do not fully encompass the population of the County as it stands today. That is not to say that they don't have their differences, but it is to say that the percentage of women, youth, diverse nationalities, political party representation, income levels, etc. of the Board Members should more closely align with the overall population being served.

If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?

My priority is to promote servant leadership on the County Board. I have a history of public service, such as being an AmeriCorps member, which was a demanding and much less financially rewarding position. I am enthusiastic and focused, and I have no problem giving my all to the Board as residents deserve.

I am also an independent thinker with a unique background, bringing useful skills that others do not specialize in. You won't create a winning baseball team if all you have are pitchers. There need to be great fielders and catchers too. I have no problem with lawyers being on the Board, but it can only enrich the board to include someone who has experience in Child & Adult Education, Journalism, Environmental Studies and Spanish like I do.

Lastly, I want to restore a sense of integrity with voters, who are distrustful of local politics and who are seeking a change in the status quo.

How can the county best manage its growth, growing diversity?

* Elect diverse public officials who respect and understand the many forms of growing diversity in the County (whether it be age, ethnicity, income, etc.) rather than electing people who may be out of touch with the statistics, or resist the change in population and demographics that is occurring.

* The County must be realistic about changes in the community, and ensure programs that empower residents to be self-sustaining. To do this, officials must first respect, communicate with and understand those needs according to the residents themselves.

* The County should foster community and encourage exchanges that promote relationships despite differences.

If incumbent, are you satisied your attendance at county board/committee meetings has been adequate? Describe the rough percentage of meetings you've attended. If non-incumbent, are you aware of the incumbent's attandance record and is it adequate?

I believe the meeting attendance of Board Members from my district is satisfactory, however simply attending meetings is not the sole duty of Board Members. Their level of community participation, issue research, etc. is probably of more importance and is less known, as cited in recent Daily Herald and Huffington Post articles.

What is your stance on county board members' pay? Too high, too low, just right? Would you propose any changes' Do you think county board members should receive pensions' If not, would be willing to pledge not to take one?

With the current salary set at the rate it is, residents of the County face the uncertainty of not knowing whether candidates are attracted by the salary or by the opportunity to serve. True servant leaders deserve compensation for their dedication and innovation. Elected officials who put in full time hours deserve full time compensation and benefits. Elected officials who put in part time hours do not deserve the same compensation nor do they deserve a pension.

I propose:

* Considering changing to hourly pay instead of salaried pay.

* That elected officials should commit to working at either a part time or full time rate, the hours they work are verified, and they are paid accordingly.


* As it is the Board who currently decides the salary for next term's Board Members, there should be some form of citizen screening of the proposed salary, such as a ballot referendum, in addition to a consensus by residents on whether or not part-time and/or full-time Board Members should receive a pension.