Gerri Songer: Candidate Profile

Lake County Board District 18 (Democrat)

  • Gerri Songer, running for Lake County Board District 18

    Gerri Songer, running for Lake County Board District 18

Updated 10/13/2016 1:12 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: Hawthorn Woods


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Office sought:

Lake County Board District 18

Age: 52

Family: Jamie Burke (daughter)

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Damian Burke (son-in-law)

Brayden Burke (grandson)

Occupation: Educator

Education: EDUCATION

Concordia University-MA, Curriculum & Instruction

National-Louis University-CAS, Educational Leadership

National-Louis University-MA, Special Education: LBS I

Lake Forest College-BA, English


Illinois State Administrative Certificate: Number 2157203; Type 75; Valid for: K-12; Endorsements: General Administrative

Illinois State Teaching Certificate: Number 1840765; Type10; Valid for: Special Education K-12; Endorsements: Learning Behavior Specialist I, Learning Disabilities and Social/Emotional Disorders

Illinois State Teaching Certificate: Number 1840764; Type 09; Valid for: High School 6- 12; Endorsements: English and Language Arts



English (9-12), English as a Second Language, Journalism (9-12), Language Arts (grades 1-8), Reading, Speech (9-12), Title I Remedial Reading

Civic involvement: District 214 Education Association, Education Chair

Sierra Club Member and Speaker

Livable Lake County Volunteer

Co-Curricular Sponsor, Students 4 Democracy

Instructor, St. Mary's Church of Buffalo Grove

Youth Ministry Volunteer, The Chapel - Mundelein and Grayslake

Elected offices held: District 214 Education Association - Education Chair

Questions & Answers

Why are you running for this office? If you are running for re-election, is there an important project you want to implement? If you are a challenger, is there a particular issue that motivates you? Please explain.

Our community needs a new representative willing to fight for our interests. We need an advocate.

For years, Aaron Lawlor promoted the Route 53 project despite its damaging effects on the environment and quality of life for residents, and despite its burdensome cost to taxpayers. Hawthorn Woods wasn't even included on the original BRAC. There was no meaningful outreach to solicit feedback or provide transparent facts.

Motivation to run came after learning trains behind my home carried a potential explosion compared to an atomic bomb. My opponent hasn't stepped up on our behalf to lobby or communicate related hazards.

What are your ideas to ensure the Lake County Discovery Museum remains relevant with county residents during the year it is closed while it moves from Wauconda to Libertyville and its new space is prepared?

To ensure Lake County Discovery Museum remains relevant, perhaps some of the exhibits such the Adlai Stevenson Around the World in 180 Days exhibit and the Booker T. Washington Club collection could be on temporary loan to K-12 schools, College of Lake County, libraries, hospitals, historical societies, cultural organizations, corporate headquarters, or forest preserve facilities. This would be a great opportunity to infuse some of Lake County's past into our communities while providing easy accessibility to those living and working in Lake County.

Do you believe all of the county board's and forest board's committee meetings should be televised live and webcast? Why or why not?

All public meetings should be televised live and webcast. Board meetings take place during the day when many people work, which hinders democratic participation. The public has a right to know what decisions our elected officials are making and when they're made. We shouldn't have to take time from work in order to have a say in decisions directly impacting us and for which our tax dollars are used to fund. I would go a step further and support public comment made from remote locations during televised live and webcast board meetings. The technology exists, why aren't we using it?

Some municipalities are turning to Lake County government for contracted services in areas such as building inspections. For example, Lake Zurich signed a two-year contract with the county in late 2015 and expects to save $100,000 by paying $67 an hour for the inspections. Do you see this as a good thing for the county because of the revenue or are there concerns that should be addressed if these arrangements continue to grow? Please explain.

Contracted services from the county to local municipalities may offer opportunities to save money, enhance quality, provide more experienced staff, and produce higher efficiency, but assurances for customer service, work load, and quality control are needed.

Before these arrangements continue to grow, the impact of situations such as municipalities choosing not to renew contracts or economic downturn should be considered. The county could be left with more employees than needed.

Conversely, in order to cover services, more employees or contractors may be required along with additional overhead. These costs should be identified and planned for.

Please list any elected office you've ever run for and what the result of that election was. Have you ever been appointed to fill an unexpired term?

Lake County Board Member is the first elected office for which I've run. I have not been appointed to fill an unexpired term. There was a void in community representation, so I chose to step up.

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

We need to find ways to reduce the burden of property taxes on residents.

I'd like to see more emphases placed on encouraging small business, entrepreneurship, apprenticeships, and specialty trades.

I advocate for preserving farmland and promoting organic farming. Farmland is irreplaceable, and we should be proactive in sustaining it. Lake County Forest Preserve District and the Liberty Prairie Foundation partner to provide opportunities for public and privately owned agricultural lands to be transitioned for local food production. I'd like to see this program expanded and prioritized.

I'm a strong proponent of maintaining our forests preserves, wetlands, and open spaces.

Please name one current leader who most inspires you.

Barrington's village president, Karen Darch, inspires me. She made her community a priority and took determined action, speaking out against the hazards of crude-by-rail transport.

What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?

As the last generation of baby boomers, I hold on to the value that it's our duty to, "Leave 'it' better than we found it."

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

I'd take regular assessments for VOCs. My well water contains methane that my daughter drank when pregnant and in which my grandson's bottles were washed.

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

My favorite class was English, which was helpful when Diane Ravitch, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, posted several of my articles on standardized assessments.

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

Do unto others as you'd have done unto you.

"You're your brothers' keeper."

"To save but a life is as to save lives of all."