Cynthia Santos: Candidate Profile

Metro. Water Reclamation District (Democrat)

  • Cynthia Santos, running for Metro. Water Reclamation District

    Cynthia Santos, running for Metro. Water Reclamation District

Updated 10/10/2014 3:50 PM

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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


Office sought:

Metro. Water Reclamation District

Age: 53

Family: Married to Richard Bradley for the past 18 years. I have a daughter Cristine and Son-in-Law Ezio Realmuto. I also have two step-daughters Meghan and Julianne Bradley and 3 year old grandson Collin.

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Occupation: Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago for the past 18 years

Education: Bachelors Degree in Political Science. Near completion of Masters Degree in Political Science focusing on Public Policy

Civic involvement: I work part-time as Development Director and also volunteer numerous hours at St.Viator Elementary School. I have been an extremely strong voice in my community, serving as Girl Scout Leader, School Board Member of both public and private schools, Beat Facilitator for the Chicago Police Dept., Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Irving Park YMCA, Member of civic and charitable organizations as Friends of the Chicago River and local neighborhood organizaitons. Board Member of the Interfaith Council for Detained Immigrants, School Board Member and Girl Scout Leader.

Elected offices held: Commissioner of the MWRDGC since 1996. State Central Committeewoman of the 5th Congressional for the past 14 years and just reelected to this position this past Spring

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? What specific professional qualifications do you possess that would make you excel in this office?

Our Carbon footprint, climate change, and providing a sustainable environment are at the forefront of the world stage and the my mission if reelected. I have ensured that the MWRD has incorporated those values in its strategic planning. Green infrastructure begins in each community as we develop measures to sustain our environment. I have made it my life's mission to improve my community one block at a time through my extensive volunteerism and community involvement. We must develop strong relationships with dedicated non-governmental partners to address issues that pertain to individual communities and Cook County as a whole.


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?

In line with the Consent Decree initiated by the USEPA, I have been a strong voice in ensuring that removal of pollution from our area streams, lakes and rivers to include disinfection and nutrient and phosphorous removal is at the forefront of MWRD master planning. Storm water management of Cook County is a role the District achieved and one that I lobbied diligently for in Springfield during my tenure. Streamlining our agency with conscientious budgeting is one of my primary contributions working as Chairman of Finance and Chairman of the Budget Committee.

How do you view the role the district has played in controlling flooding in Cook County and what, if any, actions need to be taken to improve things?

Since the assumption of the District's Leadership Role in Cook County's Storm Water Management, the MWRD has made significant strides in mitigating area flooding. We have the financial and technical resources to decrease area flooding and already have done so by working with local municipalities across the county to identify priorities and initiate projects. Increasing green infrastructure and removal of hardscapes where possible will further our mission of mitigating flooding. It is necessary to offer initiatives to local communities, as well as, individual residents to ensure widespread improvements in our mission of storm water management.

Does the board have the right number of commissioners to adequately represent all parts of the district?

I am not sure the number of commissioners is the issue in adequate representation of all parts of the district, but rather the creation of representative districts similar to the Cook County Board which will ensure that each and every voice across Cook County is heard.

How do you rate the MWRD on transparency and the public's access to records? If you consider it adequate, please explain why. If you think improvements are needed, please describe them and why they are important

This has been an issue that I have taken up with staff already. It is paramount that we eliminate as much of the red tape as possible to ensure that all interested parties have the opportunity to understand the mission of our agency, receive information in a timely manner and remove the wall toward transparency. The use of our website as a tool for information has been improved and will continue to be enhanced as an effective and efficient tool. In addition, public information team has been overhauled and greater transparency is achieved through better communication, quick delivery of information.

What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?

Development of our CAWS for greater public use is important to me as I continue my work at the MWRD. Partnering with local municipalities and ngo's to create greater access to our land and water as a safe, recreational alternatives is at the top of my to do list.

Please name one current leader who most inspires you.

Hillary Clinton as she continue to break the glass ceiling for female leadership in this country.

What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?

Honesty above all.

If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?

Probably continuing my education at a younger age.

What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?

Science and History - both have given me skills and knowledge that have helped my career.

If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Keep going to school - education is the key - you can never have to much knowledge