Lauren "Laurie" Nowak: Candidate Profile

DuPage County board District 6 (Democrat)

Updated 9/21/2012 4:35 PM
  • Lauren "Laurie" Nowak, running for DuPage County board District 6

    Lauren "Laurie" 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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City: Bartlett

Website: -

Office sought: DuPage County board District 6

Age: 25

Family: Parents Peter & Donna Nowak; sister Josie Nowak

Occupation: Youth Services Coordinator with St. Joseph Services in Chicago, IL: Budgeting, Strategic Planning, Assessing & Addressing Community Needs & Program Outcomes (through 2011)

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

Civic involvement: Board Member of Neighborhood Food Pantries (FKA Feeding Northwest DuPage) AmeriCorps Alumn (Notre Dame Volunteers) Lead Organizer of Bartlett Cool Cities Lifetime Member of the Girl Scouts of the USA Elected Wayne Township Precinct Committeewoman Member of Sierra Club Member of the Legion of Young Polish Women Volunteer with Shining Light Not-for-Profit (serving families in crisis)

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

Fortifying DuPage County to ensure Quality of Life for Residents into the Future. I propose: Using community feedback to address everyday concerns, such as: Taxes Jobs Availability of County Services (Health, Elderly, Single Parents, etc.)

Key Issue 2

Increased Communication with County Residents from Elected Officials 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. 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 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 recent and upcoming issues. It should also notify residents about services provided by the County. It should not only arrive shortly before an election. * A blog written by alternating Board members on a bi-weekly basis to clarify County Board meeting minutes, decisions and votes. 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 3

Increased Accountability and Openness The Board must be readily willing to demonstrate personal responsibility for their time and decisions on the Board. 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. * FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY must be justifiably demonstrated - not just thrown around as a convenient phrase to distract from personal benefits at a cost to County residents. * 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. * Using personal and business connections in an ethical manner that benefits all residents of DuPage, not personal interests.

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?

I am running for County Board because people are demanding a change in how government and politics function. The most effective way to make that change is by starting to address issues on a local level. As the only candidate in District 6 who brings a unique background: experience in Education, Spanish, Investigative Journalism and Environmental Studies, and as the only candidate to truly represent the youth and women of DuPage, I will bring a much-needed, fresh dynamic to the Board. The best and most innovative solutions cannot come forward without people from unique 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 Board must represent the County it serves.

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. 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. It can only enrich the Board to include someone who has the unique experience and passion to truly serve that 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 the "floor," not the "ceiling." Their level of community participation, issue research, relationship-building, 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?

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. *That elected officials not be allowed to accept an unsustainable pension after a mere 8 years of part-time service on the backs of the people they should be serving. Additionally: * 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.