Karen Roothaan: Candidate Profile

Metro. Water Reclamation District (Green)

Updated 2/10/2012 4:11 PM




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: Chicago

Website: http://greens4mwrd.org/

Office sought: Metro. Water Reclamation District

Age: 58

Family: Myself, my daughter Nishi, my partner Laurie Livermore

Occupation: Mathematics teacher/tutor

Education: BA Mathematics, University of Chicago 1974 MS Mathematics, Brown University 1978

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Civic involvement: I am a cofounder of the Bush Community Garden of Hope (2004) and Trees R Beautiful (2008), an urban forestry group

Elected offices held: none

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Responsible government

Key Issue 2

Sound environmental choices

Key Issue 3

Public education concerning the issues

Questions & Answers

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

I have a logical mind, a strong work ethic, and a wide general knowledge of environmental issues. I have been educating myself about water issues for years and of course have stepped this process up for my campaign. An outsider candidate such as myself may not expect to get elected, but I intend to use this campaign to explore the issues and contribute to the public discussion on how we treat our water and what we do with our waste.

What should the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District do to prevent disasters like the widespread flooding that affected the North and Northwest suburbs in July 2011?

The MWRD needs to work with property owners and local governments to deal with stormwater management. From my own personal experience I can tell you that this would entail a lot more work than simply passing out rain barrels, but small strategies employed by a large portion of the public are one vital component of any undertaking as ambitious as this. I would also like to see strategies such as permeable paving, rain gardens, and bioswales employed on a community level. Retailers such as Home Depot, Menards, and Lowes should be encouraged to carry moderately priced products for such projects so that people can employ these strategies without undue cost.


The district changed its severance policies last year, prompting 78 employees, including the executive director and a commissioner, to quit and resulting in a payout of $2.4 million. Do you support how that change was handled? Why or why not?

My understanding of the issue is that pension structuring was changed in such a way that mostly high level employees felt their best option was to retire early. I am not sure whether this was the best choice for the district but it was probably an expected response

to the changes.

What should the district's policies be with regard to severance, sick time and pensions' Please explain in detail.

Policies need to balance the needs of the public for an affordable public service while being fair to the workers.

The Water Reclamation District voted in June to disinfect sewage before dumping it into waterways. Are there more steps the board should take to protect the environment? Please be specific.

The Board needs to address other issues such as prescription drug residues in our water. I would begin with an aggressive public education campaign paired with a prescription drug dropoff program at local drug stores. While this would not affect drug residues eliminated from our bodies, it would be a first step.