Mary FitzGerald Ozog: Candidate Profile
DuPage County board District 4 (Democrat)
Back to DuPage County board District 4
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.
City: Glen Ellyn
Website: maryfitzozog.com (under construction)
Twitter: Candidate did not respond.
Family: Married to husband Jim for 32 years, (Chicago attorney, Western Golf Association Director (Evans Scholarship))
Son Jimmy (recent Active duty Navy, current Active Navy Reserve and current Loyola University student)
Daughter Katie (Michigan State University graduate)
Son Patrick (DePauw University graduate)
Daughter Megan (current DePauw University junior.) All 4 of my children are Glenbard West graduates. I am also a first generation American
my mother immigrated to this country from Ireland in 1954.
Occupation: Substitute Instructor, CUSD 200
Vice President, Glenbard High School District 87
Education: University of Michigan - B.A. Political Science
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Graduate Studies Urban Planning/Transportation
Civic involvement: Capitol Hill Congressional Intern
Glen Ellyn Architectural Review Commission 1986-1992
Glen Ellyn Ad Hoc Citizens Pool Commitee 1991
Friends of the Glen Ellyn Library-Treasurer
Glenbard West Choral Parents-President
Glenbard West Boosters volunteer
Glen Ellyn Zoning Board of Appeals 2006-2012
Holiday Pops Choir, Chicago
Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club of Glen Ellyn/Wheaton
Vice President, Glenbard Township High School District 87, 2011-present (elected 2011, 2015)
Elected offices held: Glenbard Township High School District 87 Vice President 2013-present. Glenbard Township High School District 87 Board Member 2011-2013.
(Committee assignments: Chair, Policy Committee 2017-present
Chair, Finance Committee 2015-2017 Committee member, Student Performance and Achievement 2011-2013
Community/Legislative/Partnerships Committee member 2013-present
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 the DuPage County Board because I have always believed that government should help people. During my college internship on Capitol Hill, work as a Transportation Planner at Metra and CTA, six years on the Glen Ellyn Architectural Review Commission, six years on the Glen Ellyn Zoning Board, and, currently, my seven years on the Glenbard Township High School District 87 School Board, I have worked, through government, to make life better for the communities I've served. If elected I will use my experience and my voice to help make DuPage a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Speaking of voices, I'm running as a Democrat because right now there is only one Democrat on the County Board. The County Board has a budget of $439 Million and it's important to have new voices to examine how taxpayer funds are managed by the County. I am very interested in initiatives the County provides for countering the opioid crisis which is impacting families of every demographic in DuPage. The 2018 budget earmarked $100,000 for heroin abuse. Contrast that with over $350,000 budgeted for lobbyists in 2018. This is the kind of spending priority I will question as a board member. Transportation within the County and to Chicago is also a very important issue. Maintaining and developing the DuPage economy hinges on providing the best transportation services available. My transportation background will help me question how transportation dollars are best spent in DuPage County.
What is your stance on county board members' pay? Too high, too low, just right? Would you propose any changes?
The salary of $52,102 a year for county board members is too high for what is fundamentally a part-time position. Multiply that number by 18 board members and add in the county chairman and you are looking at about $1.1 Million of tax payer funds for 19 board positions. In contrast: in neighboring Will County, their Board members will receive $23,000 in 2018 to manage a budget 21% higher than DuPage County's current budget. I have served for seven years on the Glenbard High School District 87 Board without pay, and it's interesting to note that Illinois State Statute prohibits pay for school board members. My responsibilities as the Vice President of our School Board obligate me to attend our regular board meetings and to be a chair or member of several of our standing committees. It is expected that board members prepare for meetings by reading any background materials staff has forwarded to us. After that, the amount of time a board member spends interacting with constituents is up to the individual board member. I expect that the time commitment for the County Board is fairly similar. As for what I would change: one important concept I think everyone needs to understand is that one board member can certainly express his or her opinion, but only board-wide decisions are actually implemented. One thing I promise: I will not vote in favor of any salary increases for County Board members.
With DuPage County's budget being squeezed by the state funding reductions, what initiatives would you support to increase revenue and/or save money?
The recently announced 2018 budget passed by the County Board indicates the County has not asked for an increase in taxes from DuPage county tax payers for the 10th straight year. Cuts in staffing for the sheriff's office and other departments have been announced. I believe that every single staff position and line item should, of course, be analyzed as the County deals with cuts in State of Illinois funding, meanwhile dealing with some of the highest property taxes in the United States. In my experience on the Glenbard High School board we have had to deal with the reality that some of our costs, in spite of our very best efforts to conserve our fiscal resources, will indeed escalate. In particular, under our current health care system, a governing board like a school district or a county has to provide health care to their employees. These costs escalate, often far beyond annual projections. For the past 7 years I have sat on a Board that has operated in the black (only approximately 5% of Illinois School districts can make that claim.) If a tax increase is ever proposed, I promise that I will examine all budget considerations in light of providing essential County services. I have been a fiscally responsible board member for Glenbard District 87 and would certainly bring that same mindset to the County Board.
What are your thoughts about the county's Accountability, Consolidation and Transparency Initiative? What role should DuPage play in efforts to streamline and consolidate local government?
Thoughtful consolidation of government is a very important goal, especially when Illinois has the unfortunate distinction of having the greatest number of government entities in the nation. I applaud the current County Board for their ongoing efforts to accomplish this goal, and will support more consolidation moving forward. One suggestion for DuPage County is to consider eliminating township governments. The primary roles of township governments (tax assessment, roads, and social programs) are arguably duplicated at the county level. My understanding is that, according to state law, this initiative would have to be on the ballot and eliminate all townships in the county. Considerable savings would be achieved if this was considered. To increase transparency, I propose that at least one of the two monthly full County Board meetings be held in the evening. All our District 87 Board meetings are in the evening, and we afford members of the community two opportunities per meeting to express their concerns during public participation.
What initiatives, if any, do you have in mind for your specific county board district?
Right now the main issues affecting District 4 residents are the primary concerns of all County residents. Is the County doing a good job with the court system, county-wide law enforcement, property tax assessment, health department responsibilities, and transportation? How are economic development efforts helping all of our communities? As I noted earlier, I am particularly concerned with efforts the County can take to tackle the growing opioid crisis. This crisis is affecting all of our communities in DuPage. I will be available to listen to concerns of District 4 constituents and certainly try to find answers, as I have done for the past seven years for my Glenbard District 87 constituents. I plan to hold regular office hours at local libraries within District. Personally, I was recently not happy to be standing in a very long line the week after Christmas, when I and hundreds of other County residents lined up to pay their property taxes early due to the new Federal Tax Law. I do not know why the County did not have their online tax payment system up and running
Lake County was able to have their system operating on Tuesday, December 26. I understand the County took in over $212 Million in early revenue, and the least these early taxpayers deserved was the convenience of online payment. I understand this situation was a one-time occurrence, but if I was on the County Board I would have certainly pressed for online payment that week.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
As a 32-year resident, active citizen, and public servant, it has concerned me for many years that there is a one party system in DuPage County. I believe, now more than ever, it's important that people with different viewpoints and different perspectives show up to represent the taxpayers of this county. I'm running as a Democrat and, as one of my supporters told me recently, DuPage County government is like going to a baseball game and the other team doesn't show up. I also believe that we need more women at all levels of government. As of today only 4 of the 18 County Board members are women. Most importantly, I want to continue to make sure that government helps people and continues to make DuPage a wonderful place to live, work and grow. I've spent the last seven years doing just that on the Glenbard District 87 Board, and I hope to continue that work on the DuPage County Board.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Ashley Bennett. She defeated the Atlantic County, N.J. board member who asked "will the women be home to cook dinner?" after the Women's March.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Hard work. My mother, a nurse who immigrated from Ireland in 1954, often worked 2 jobs while raising 7 kids in Detroit in the 1970's
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Easy. I would spend even more time with my mother. She had a wonderful sense of fun, even when life was difficult.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Debate and Forensics all 4 years of high school. I've used the analytical and public speaking skills from this class every day since then.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Three things in...life are important: the first is to be kind
the second is to be kind
and the third is to be kind.