Elizabeth 'Liz' Chaplin: 2022 candidate for DuPage County Board, District 2
Office sought: DuPage County Board, District 2
City: Downers Grove
Occupation: County Board member
Previous offices held: Current DuPage County Board member, DuPage Water Commissioner
Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
I want to ensure DuPage County is a healthy, welcoming, flourishing and just community for all. That's what I've been doing for the last 20 years, as a community activist, spearheading the effort to get safe water for over 800 families in Downers Grove, as an appointed member of the DuPage Water Commission, cleaning up and stabilizing their finances and a decades long elected member of the DuPage County Board, the only Democrat elected to 3 terms, I have been the asking the tough questions, engaging in honest debate and challenging the status quo. That is what I plan to continue to do as I take my next steps toward my service to the people of DuPage.
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 wrote a letter to our Congressmen requesting defensive weapons for Ukraine. The letter earned bipartisan support and was signed by 12 of my colleagues.
Initiated and earned support of HB 4729, Safe Gun Storage.
Working with the DuPage County Health Department we were able to hold an on site COVID a vaccination clinic for hundreds of senior citizens in District 2.
I pushed to have DuPage County make Juneteenth a holiday.
I brought a proposal before the DuPage County Board which allocated $37,950 of the CARES Act funding to a nonprofit that provides head-to-toe wardrobe of professional clothing to its female clients free of charge. The board unanimously supported the allocation of funds.
Working with the Sheriff, Just of DuPage and SCARCE we developed two wonderful programs in the jail which include the Children's Library and Hope's Garden.
Moved to place a binding referendum on the ballot to merge the DuPage County Recorders Office with the Clerks Office.
Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming and how the county should deal with them.
Last year we took a conservative approach to our financial plan due to the uncertainty of how COVID-19 would impact our budget. The county finished 2021 with a projected General Fund tax surplus in excess of $23 million. The surplus allowed the Board to fund important initiatives and make purchases that would have otherwise been taken out of reserves. Our reserve balance remains strong.
The weak spot with regards to county finances is the county's heavy reliance on sales tax. At 52% Sales Tax accounts for the largest revenue source in the General Fund. Recently, sales tax revenue has been robust, however it is not a stable source of revenue. The county needs to be mindful of the instability of relying on sales tax.
As long as the county continues to make fiscally responsible decisions and keeps a strong reserve balance we should be able to weather any financial storm.
How do you rate the county government on transparency and the public's access to records? If it's adequate, explain why. If you think improvements are needed, delineate them.
I believe the county does a good job at being transparent. But there's always room for improvement. Pushing for more transparency in the budget process the county will hopefully be entering into a contract with OpenGove software equipment. The systems automated reporting and dashboard will make the County's financial information more accessible and easy to understand. The Finance Staff, County Departments, County Board members, and the general public will all have access to this important information.
As of January 2022, the county's Building and Zoning Department moved to online submission of building permits.
I'm pleased that the county has finally purchased software that will collect and electronically publish data on vendors and subcontractors including minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned and small businesses.
All committee meetings are recorded and have closed captioning and are available on the county's YouTube page.
What, if anything, should be done to improve automation and customer service in county offices? What steps should be taken to make that happen?
I believe our county offices do a good job at being customer service friendly. For example, our Clerk of the Circuit, Candice Adam's has more than 150 downloadable forms to conduct your business. Jean Kaczmarek, County Clerk offers online access to birth, marriage, civil union and death certificates. You can pay your property taxes online thanks to Gwen Henry, County Treasurer. I know as technology progresses the county offices works to implement changes and upgrades.