Gloria Charland: Candidate Profile
Lake County Board District 5 (Democrat)
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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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Facebook: >a href="https://www.facebook.com/GloriaCharlandforLakeCountyBoard/"> Gloria Charland for Lake County Board District 5
Family:Husband, 4 adult children, 2 grandchildren
Occupation: I am retired after 20 years in the railroad industry. I worked my way up from selling tickets to supervising crews and traffic at a major freight terminal near O'Hare, and to controlling commuter and freight traffic at a busy Chicago hub. So, if you want to keep things moving on time, I'm a good bet. I am currently the owner/manager of a real estate business, and I tutor Spanish and French and am a fluent Spanish speaker (more of a passion than a job).
Education: B.S. Western Illinois University
Civic involvement: I am an active volunteer in my church community and with the Sierra Club, Clean Power Lake County and Livable Lake County.
Elected offices held: None
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?
I am not a career politician who will be making self-serving decisions to advance my political career. In fact, I won't even be accepting a paycheck. And I will bring to the board a wide range of skills and an ability to get things done.
One of my priorities is to bring more transparency and citizen engagement to the Lake County Board. I love reading the newsletters that I get from Lake County Board members telling me to turn my clock back and not to burn my leaves, but I think District 5 constituents also want to be provided with information about important decisions being made by the board before they are made and have a chance to weigh in on them especially when those decisions involve spending our tax dollars. No more back room deals. Through town halls, coffee meetings, newsletters, whatever medium proves to be most effective, I will involve District 5 voters so that I can keep them informed, engaged and to be sure I am representing them well.
I will be a champion for the people guarding against unethical practices and wasteful spending in government. Our real estate taxes are too high, and when I volunteer to cook free dinners for the disadvantaged at my church, I see firsthand how middle class families are struggling right here in Lake County. I will bring a new perspective and fresh ideas to the board to help us keep our communities strong, healthy, safe and economically vibrant and to position our county to be competitive in a 21st century economy and fast changing world. I will lead the effort to bring green jobs to Lake County in recycling, renewable energy and local food.
Finally, but not least important, as a former Chicagoan who came to Lake County nearly 40 years ago and fell in love with our lakes, wetlands, forest preserves and other open spaces, eventually becoming an environmental activist, I will work for clean air, clean water and the preservation of our open spaces.
The forest district's money for land acquisition and development is drying up. Is a new tax-rate increase for more bonds needed? If so, when? And why?
I believe that open space protection is very important and so do the voters of Lake County. Every time the LCFPD puts a referendum on the ballot, the voters overwhelmingly support open space acquisition funding. However, because of our high taxes, we must be as prudent as possible. First, we should explore options that do not raise taxes. For example, they may be able to reissue an old bond. That way we could balance open space protection without raising taxes, both of which are important to my district. Some elected officials are saying that there is no more land available for acquisition. I don't believe that is true. If we are able to maintain funding, it is a good time to be buying land because land sales prices are relatively low. Also, it is less expensive to protect open space than to pay for the infrastructure to develop it. It's the ultimate tax cap.
When the forest district bought the new headquarters building in Libertyville, the intent was it would include the Lake County Discovery Museum, but a big state grant to fund that is on hold and the overall vision is in limbo. The district also wanted to rent a fairly large portion of the building. What scenarios do you envision for the museum, given the turn of events since the headquarters building was originally acquired.
I have many fond memories of visits to the Lake County Discovery Museum with my children, and my husband and I still try to make it to the Civil War Days there every summer. I understand the desire to move this treasure to a larger and more centrally located facility. However, because of the state's fiscal stalemate, many grants and other funds are in limbo. Not knowing the details regarding the status of this particular grant, I would first explore whether or not the state grant is a viable option in the near future. If not, I would look for alternative sources of funding that do not use taxpayer dollars if possible. I believe that culture and history are important. That said, the scope of this museum if generally broader than the forest preserve mission. Is it possible that another, non-forest preserve entity like an historical society, educational or cultural organization might take it over? I would also explore whether a public/private partnership might be possible. For example, getting a Lake County business to underwrite it. We have so many multi-billion corporations in our county who might be willing to underwrite a Lake County historical and cultural institution.
Should the county continue to spend its regional sales tax funds on state road projects or should that money be directed to address other Lake County transportation needs? What is your position on whether Route 53 should be extended through Lake County and why? Has your stance on Route 53 changed, given the recent increase in opposition?
The state is in a fiscal crisis and future funding is questionable. The County Board should pursue all options, but explore how best we can address our county transportation needs in the most cost effective and efficient manner possible. As a leader in the Livable Lake County organization, I have studied transportation issues at length and know one thing for certain; you can't build your way out of congestion. The transportation phenomenon called "induced demand" means that building more roads inevitably leads to more congestion. That doesn't mean we shouldn't improve our roads or that we shouldn't maintain them - I believe we should - just that we need to invest wisely. The world is changing rapidly. Many people telecommute at least part time now. Ride sharing is exploding. The mega trends indicate that total vehicle miles traveled is lower and lower each year in Illinois and in many states around the nation. Millennials, the largest percentage of our work force, are getting drivers licenses and purchasing cars at a significantly lower rate than their predecessors and prefer to live and work near public transit and in walkable, bikable communities. The same is true for businesses both large and small. They are locating, relocating and consolidating near public transit and alternatives to cars. E-commerce is flourishing while traditional, brick-and-mortar retail is struggling. The Googles of the worlds are leaving Lake County and are not coming back. I want to invest our precious tax dollars in a cost effective way that will help our county be competitive in a 21st century economy.
Please list any elected office you have ever run for and what the result of that election was. Have you ever been appointed to fill an unexpired term?
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
There are thousands of wildly inspirational leaders in the U.S. and across the world. Picking one who "most inspires" me is a difficult question. One leader I admire is Anne Mulcahy. Here is a woman who has impressed the world with her dedication, intelligence, and courage. She became the CEO of Xerox in 2000, faced with $18 billion in debt and a bloated bureaucracy. All of her advisers encouraged Mulcahy to declare bankruptcy, but she opted for the path less traveled, the more difficult and risky choice. She wanted to build Xerox back to being a great company and she wasn't afraid of hard work.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
I can't commit to declaring one lesson the biggest I learned at home, but I can give you a very important one. If you're going through hell, keep going. I think that's also a Winston Churchill quote. This hits home for me in the good times and the bad. On the bright side, often the best things for you are the ones that take you out of your comfort zone. On the other hand, if you're really hurting, the only way things will get better is to persevere and move forward.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I would try my hand as an artist. I've always regretted letting my painting slip. Another thing I've always wanted to do is run for office. Here's hoping I can accomplish both. Life may be short, but the night is young and I have a lot of living left!
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Psychology. Learning a little Psychology helps with everything. I'd like to think it makes me more understanding and pensive. Just knowing a problem exists is half the recipe for solving it, and because of my psychology studies, I know about lots of problems and pitfalls in interpersonal communication. As a result, I watch out for them and do my best to avoid them.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
I tell them this all the time: problems are just chances for you to do your best. Don't be afraid to give something everything you have and never lose your optimism. A wise man once said, "Most people never go far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second." And yet, life isn't all about the race. The important other side of that idea is: it does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. I'm pretty sure they listened to me, but either way my kids are my pride and joy and have blown me away with their successes. Maybe you should ask them what piece of advice they would give me.