Brian Krajewski: Candidate profile, DuPage County Board District 3
In the Nov. 3 general election, Republican incumbent Brian Krajewski of Downers Grove and Democrat Gail Cabala-Lowry of Downers Grove are vying to win the seat representing District 3 on the DuPage County Board.
Krajewski, a certified public accountant and attorney, has served on the board since 2010. He was mayor of Downers Grove from 1999 to 2007.
District 3 includes all or portions of Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Lemont, Naperville, Westmont, Willowbrook and Woodridge.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates to answer a series of questions. Here are Krajewski's replies.
Q: What have we learned as a county from the COVID-19 pandemic and what changes should be made looking forward as a result?
A: Knowing that the COVID-19 pandemic will remain an issue for quite some time, I believe we, as a county, should continue to work on adapting to safely living with this pandemic. I recently led an initiative to help our residents adapt by allocating $1.5 million of county CARES Act funding to provide free internet services to low-income students in DuPage.
With many of our schools engaging in remote learning, our county needed to step in to provide this resource so that the academic success of these students was not compromised due to the safety measures put in place in response to COVID-19.
Additionally, I believe we need to continue to support the small businesses in our community during this economically challenging time. By partnering with Choose DuPage, our county has been able to allocate some of our CARES Act funding to provide financial relief to businesses and independent contractors in DuPage thus far, but I believe we should continue to monitor the economic development of our county as we navigate this pandemic moving forward.
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
A: I am running for reelection because of my passion for public service. Having lived my entire life in DuPage County, nothing is more important to me than working to serve and continuously improve my community in any way that I can. I have a strong business background in economic development providing consulting services, for my private clients, over a third of which are minority and women business owners.
I served as mayor of Downers Grove when the village realized a huge economic boom due to our ability to relocate businesses in the area, and I've been motivated to continue this economic growth in my community ever since.
If reelected, I hope to continue to work on economic recruitment, increased workforce training, and other related initiatives.
Outside of economic issues, I am passionate about the issue of banning the retail sale of high volume commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits. Animals bred at these high-volume-producing puppy and kitten mills are often subject to inhumane conditions that lead to various health problems and behavior issues, while shelters struggle with adoption rates. I will continue to advocate for this issue until we have a county and statewide ban.
Q: 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?
A: One of the first initiatives I led while on the board was persuading a large corporation to relocate their facility to DuPage. By bringing this business in, our county began to receive more than $600,000 annually in extra sales tax revenue from their operations, which to date has led to over $5 million in extra county revenue.
Obtaining this revenue was one reason DuPage has not raised our residents' property taxes.
Another initiative was the improvements I made with the DuPage Animal Services.
My team and I worked to reorganize the department to increase productivity and improve live release rate (LRR). Before taking over, our LLR was a little over 50%. It is now around 88%, an improvement reflecting my commitment to ensuring humane animal care in DuPage.
Most recently, I led an initiative to allocate $1.5 million to fund internet services for low-income students in DuPage. With the COVID-19 pandemic, students are adapting to remote models of learning this year, with many of the low-income students not having access to internet service at their home. We were able to unanimously pass this funding to ensure these students have the resources to achieve academic success.
Q: Describe your position regarding the allocation of resources in the recorder of deeds' office. Are personnel allocated as they should be? Are there capital expense or other budgetary items that the office must address, and, if so, how do you propose to address them?
A: Based on the findings of a recent consolidation analysis report funded by DuPage, I believe merging the clerk and recorder of deeds' offices would be beneficial. I believe the residents could benefit from the substantial savings and improvements in efficiency that would result from this merger.
The analysis concluded that reductions in head count would be necessary to receive the full benefits of this proposal, because personnel costs consume over 90% of current expenditures. I support this reduction within reason so as not to compromise the efficiency of county services.
Though we, as a county, record more documents per employee than any of our surrounding counties, this should not dissuade DuPage from continually assessing and improving efficiency for the benefit of our residents. I do believe the proposal of merging these offices should be decided by the residents. I supported placing this on a countywide referendum.
In terms of other fiscal issues to address, I believe the recorder's office should look into equalizing document recording fees to the actual cost of recording the document.
Q: Name one concrete program you'll create or personnel move you'll make to improve efficiency in the office or make it more successful. Explain how it will be funded and how you will overcome any obstacles to initiating it.
A: One program I am interested in pursuing would be merging the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OHSEM) with the DuPage Sheriff's Department, similar to Kane County. OHSEM has a budget of over $1 million, and I estimate that this merger would result in half a million dollars in savings.
This could then be allocated into creating a drug and tactical unit within the sheriff's department. This unit could be utilized for investigating and addressing cascading events such as increases in drug crimes, carjackings, residential burglaries, etc.
By creating this unit, regular patrolmen could remain within their specific jurisdiction and would not have to exert strained resources toward these more large-scale epidemic bursts of crime at the expense of normal operations.
Additionally, having a specialized task force equipped to handle these crimes could help deter individuals from engaging in them and could resolve the resulting damages much quicker. DuPage has seen an unprecedented increase in carjackings and burglaries. I believe the need to establish a program of this nature is all the more needed to ensure our community members feel safe and adequately protected.
Q: Describe your position on transparency in the office and the ease of access to records by the public. If you believe improvements are needed, what are they and how would you go about achieving them?
A: I highly support any efforts to increase public transparency to benefit the residents I serve. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, when county services have been limited, the county board continues to provide virtual access to our meetings for public participation, and meeting minutes are always published in a timely fashion on the county website.
Additionally, my contact information is widely accessible online, and I encourage residents to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns they may have about DuPage.
In terms of improvements, I support allowing residents to weigh in on important county decisions such as merging of offices or reducing the size of the county board because this empowers constituent involvement and neutralizes the dynamic between public officials and the communities they are elected to serve.
If reelected in November, I hope to continue to advocate for transparency by pushing for ballot referendum questions about decisions like these.