Mary Jo Mullen: Candidate Profile
Lisle Township Supervisor
Back to Lisle Township Supervisor
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.
Family: Married with three young boys that keep me laughing and running. My mother is my inspiration for facing and overcoming adversity, and my father passed away while I was in college. I have a large extended family mostly in the Chicagoland area.
Occupation: Engineer and Consultant; I am President and CEO of Advantage Strategy Consulting
Education: Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering - University of Notre Dame
Civic involvement: Founding member of VOICE 4 Equality;
volunteer for STEM activities at North Central College; Girls E-Mentoring - Science, Engineering and Technology (GEM-SET) mentor;
Awards and Nominations Committee Chair for Society of Military Engineers, Chicago Post
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Name the three most important goals or objectives this board should tackle in the coming term. Prioritize them, and briefly discuss why you believe each to be critical, and how the board should go about addressing them.
1. Increase efficiency in Township operations. This will be accomplished through a detailed analysis of past budgets and actual dollars spent. This analysis will help drive process improvement, along with documentation and streamlining of existing processes and procedures. Lastly, the Board and I will work to create more transparency around the hours and overall pay packages of elected officials. We will work to eliminate the additional benefits and pension programs for elected officials that are not warranted.
2. Provide excellent services to seniors, veterans, the jobless, and others in need. Once budgets are streamlined, existing funds can be reallocated to these programs to improve them and increase the outreach and communication of these programs. Additionally, the board will collaborate with local organizations that share the mission of helping those in need to provide comprehensive solutions.
3. Grow Lisle Townships resilience to flooding an natural hazards. We will partner with the County and find other funding opportunities to mitigate flooding and storm drainage issues. Additionally, we will work with the communities in the Township to be a conduit of information on flooding throughout the Township and communicate with our residents.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
The Township government must be focused on the services to residents. This includes providing high-quality road and neighborhood services to unincorporated areas. The primary responsibility though is to all residents, and this is accomplished through the General Assistance programs. I will work with the Board to increase the availability and effectiveness of services. The General Assistance Program in Lisle Township is funded at very low levels. There is little outreach on the programs, and as a result there is often budget that goes unspent. Additionally, the assistance offered is inadequate to meet the needs of recipients, often forcing them to go elsewhere for help. For example, the available rental assistance will cover less than half of a typical rental in the Township.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
There must be a balance between the services offered by a Township and municipalities such that there are not duplication of efforts and excessive administrative costs.
Townships are still needed because there will continue to be unincorporated areas that need services - in these areas incorporated municipalities have no authority and the County is too big to provide the needed local focus. Townships can be better utilized by properly assigning services to the most efficient level of government. A prime example of this are services related to roads and right-of-ways. A Township can gain greater economies of scale than small municipalities, while still retaining the ability to be responsive and focused on the needs of residents. A 1 mile stretch of road may currently be maintained and plowed by 3 different entities. Rolling these services up to the Township level allows for greater efficiency that a single plow can work that 1 miles, rather than 3. Where you have these continuous stretches of road and service areas - giving that authority to 1431 townships in the state is far more efficient than the 2833 local and county governments that currently all hold those same responsibilities.
Are there any township offices that should be eliminated or consolidated?
I believe in eliminating wasteful spending, and that will vary between the Townships and the needs of their residents. I also believe that there needs to be a streamlining of services between the various units of local government in order to avoid duplication. This should be evaluated at a statewide level and the state code updated to give specific authorities to township or municipality. Services should be provided at the level of government that is most effective for citizens in terms of costs, level of service and understanding of local needs.
Can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
Pensions and other benefits should not be provided to elected officials whose roles are less than full time.
Similarly, elected officials pay should be commensurate with the time they put in and take into account that they are public servants. I support elected officials time being tracked as any other employee is, and their pay based upon an hourly rate rather than salaried.
Proper maintenance and control over township facilities is needed so that there are not large burdens on taxpayers as a result of negligence or improper work. An entire building on the Township property is unusable, and there is a $1.2 Million line item in the 2017 budget for capital improvements in order to purchase new office space for the Assessor and his small staff. There are more cost effective alternatives, and the original building should never have reached the state of disrepair that it is currently in.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Residents throughout Lisle Township were devastated by the floods of April 2013. Unfortunately, many residents have still not been able to return to their homes or get the funding they were promised to buyout their homes. I will be a voice for all Township residents, and work with the communities, County and State to ensure there is adequate communication on the status of buyouts and mitigation efforts. Additionally, I will support the efforts within the Township to ensure all residents and businesses understand their risk and can act accordingly. I will reduce storm drainage issues through partnering projects with the County, and focus on becoming more resilient to natural disasters.
All too often, Township officials have been appointed rather than elected by constituents. Some have won re-election, some will be up for their first election for the office they already hold. Agreements are formed between Townships based upon business relationships, which create troubling conflicts of interest. Holding an elected office is an honor and a public service "“ it should never be about entitlements and business ties unrelated to the office. I am a passionate public servant who will always do what is right by the people first and foremost. Partnerships, contracts, and staffing decisions will always be executed and managed with integrity and openness.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Warren Buffett inspires me because of his business savvy, brilliant mind and dedication to philanthropy.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
We had many difficult times, but my family found a way to push through each time. Perseverance is key to health, stability and happiness.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Spend more time listening to my dad's stories. I was young when he told them to me, I wish I knew more about his life.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Band. I learned how to work in groups and succeed as a team, as well as lead my peers as section leader and drum major.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Stand up for yourself, the people around you and your beliefs. Not everyone can, so make sure you give them voice too.