Olynda De Hoyos: Candidate profile
Name: Olynda De Hoyos
Office sought: Kane County Board District 3
Occupation: Assistant Manager for a consumer finance company
Education: BA in Business and Commerce and minor in Spanish, Aurora University Graduate, East Aurora High School
Civic involvement: Volunteer with organizations that support children & seniors; Member/Volunteer, Feed My Starving Children, Mutual Ground, UNICEF and Alzheimer's Association; Board of Directors, San Antonio Foundation (children with disabilities); Volunteer at my son's school; Member, Our Lady of Good Counsel Church.
Elected offices held: None
Questions & Answers
Question 1: If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priorities be?
If elected, I will bring a new perspective to the board. With all the rancor and divisiveness on the Board and the battles between the County's elected officials, the Board could use a more cooperative mentality and I believe that I can bring that. I am not a career politician, and I have never run for office. Being new to politics, I do not bring the baggage associated with other candidates. I will bring an independent voice to my district and to the board. As a board member, one of my priorities will be to protect public safety. As a mother, a volunteer in our community, and a taxpayer, I am frustrated with the County Board's recent decisions that affected the safety of our neighborhoods. I was upset when the County Board slashed funding for public safety, leading to the ending of the electronic monitoring program. The electronic monitoring protected victims of domestic violence and other serious crimes. As the Daily Herald itself said in an editorial, Kane County is less safe without the electronic monitoring program. In a similar way, the budget cuts to public safety led to the strike of court security and probation officers earlier this year. The same set of decisions by the Board led to some people who committed violent crimes going back out onto the streets without a probation officer to supervise their rehabilitation and without a detection system to monitor their whereabouts. I will stand up for my district and neighborhoods across Kane County by fighting for funding for public safety so decisions like these do not continue to happen.
Question 2: What is the single biggest need in your district?
My district lies entirely within the City of Aurora, and most of the day to day decisions affecting the area are made by the city government. However, there are some areas in which the County plays a role in our lives. As previously stated, the decision to cut funding for public safety has affected my district and all districts across Kane County. Crime does not follow municipal boundaries. My district has both victims and perpetrators of crime. While I could continue to discuss the need to make our neighborhoods safe for all of our families, I will raise another issue. We need a comprehensive solution for the old Copley Hospital property. For more than a decade, this property has been vacant. It has attracted problems to the neighborhood and been a nuisance for residents. It is also a symbol of so many issues in the district. Why has no developer been successful in rehabbing the building or demolishing it and replacing it with a profitable business to go on the County's tax rolls? The County needs to do a better job in economic development from a county or regional perspective to work with cities like Aurora and with the business community to bring businesses to the area. If we bring new business to the area, we can reduce the property tax burden on homeowners. The County also should be an active participant in the redevelopment and reinvestment in this area. The old Copley site would be a great opportunity for this kind of partnership with the County. In talking to the residents of my district, they do not feel that they are receiving adequate resources from the County for their tax dollars.
Question 3: Is the county doing enough to control expenses? What additional, specific steps do you recommend?
The Board can review operations in the departments under its control to look for opportunities to streamline expenses. It can also look to forge relationships with the countywide elected officials in order to find ways to discuss possible options for savings. Unfortunately, the current administration has taken a hostile stance with many of the countywide elected officials, which has made for tense meetings and impaired cooperation between the Board and those elected officials. With a cooperative tone, perhaps more can be done to work together to identify potential savings. County government is a large body, and certainly some duplication between departments and offices exist. Solutions like sharing employees or entering into contracts together to get volume discounts might be possible.
Question 4: The county commissioned a study to determine which services are mandated and which are not, in preparation for deeper budget cuts. Do you believe the county must continue to reduce costs? IF so, which non-mandated services would you cut or reduce? Under what circumstances would you support a tax increase?
I believe that it is always a good idea for the Board to see whether there are additional areas to reduce costs. As I stated above, changing the tone on the Board and between elected officials could help to identify savings. I would encourage the Board to look for smart savings that do not affect core services or the employees. At the same time, the Board has made a lot of cuts in recent years, including some drastic and harmful ones. Much of what is left in the budget seems to be for mandatory services. Before we look at cutting additional services or increasing taxes, I think we should take a look at couple things. The Board should consider practical sources of additional revenue. As stated earlier, taking a more active role in economic development and recruitment of businesses to Kane County would bring additional revenue and prevent a tax increase. Working with legislators to bring more money to Kane County could help. The County also has significant reserves, and I would explore the use of a small portion of reserves before making harmful decisions to cut public safety and health in the future.
Question 5: What other issues, if any are important to you as a candidate for this office?
There are many issues affecting residents across the county from flooding to dealing with nuisance properties to transportation problems. However, I feel that my candidacy sheds light on another major problem facing the County Board. As I have said, I am a newcomer to politics and this entire process. While I have been involved in my community for most of my adult life as a volunteer, I had not considered the idea of running for office until recently. Right now, we need an independent voice on the board. My opponent was recruited by the County Board Chairman and her campaign in the primary was financed by the Chairman. The last thing the board needs now is another rubber stamp for the current administration. Before I made the decision to run, besides talking to my family, I spoke to residents of the district. They were upset that a Republican was recruited to run as a Democrat and they felt that they had nobody to represent them. Others, like me, were upset that their community was less safe after the electronic monitoring program was dismantled. The residents of my district deserve someone to fight for them, not against them.
Personal insight questions
1. What is the hardest decision you ever made?
When my grandfather was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's, we were told that the disease was advanced, and that he needed to be placed in hospice because his brain and body were no longer in sync. Making the choice to give him a good quality of life, stop all of his medications, and let the disease take its course was the hardest decision I ever had to make. Thankfully, he outlived hospice and is still with us today.
2. Who is your hero?
My hero is my mother. She came to this country in search of the American dream. She has faced many obstacles, but she has always found a way to overcome them. As a single parent, she had to work harder to provide for both of us and still works hard to this day taking care of my grandfather. She is the most caring, loving, honest, hardworking, strong, selfless, and resilient person I know.
3. Each amendment is important which is most precious to you?
The First Amendment is the one that is the most precious to me because it allows us to express ourselves. Everyone from this country has roots from different parts of the world and the First Amendment allows us to keep our cultural values and religious beliefs without imposing them on anyone else. With the current situation in our country, we must not forget about the freedoms that we have: Speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. Now more than ever, we must practice them and stand up for all the injustices that we see in our country.
4. What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
I had the hardest time learning how to ride my bicycle without the training wheels. I stopped riding my bike for a while until one day I decided that it was time for me to learn. I shed tears and was frustrated but refused to give up. After three days of scraped knees and my father's truck needing a new paint job due to me crashing into it so much, I was able to do it. The feeling of accomplishment was unbelievable. I learned that whatever I set my mind to is something that I can accomplish and that I should never give up even when I face a difficult challenge.
5. Thinking back to a time you failed at something. What did you learn from it?
At the age of 10, my family and I moved here to the U.S. from Mexico. I started in 5th grade and had no knowledge of English. By middle school, I felt confident that I was ready for my scheduled classes to be all in English. To be able to do so, I had to take a test to show that I was ready. I failed the test by two questions. I had confused the meaning of a word and answered the questions completely wrong. I was devastated, but instead of letting the results bring me down and doubt what I knew, it motivated me to study more. This wasn't just about the classes or the grade, the test meant more because it meant that I belonged here. I was determined to pass this test, and before second semester started, I was given the opportunity to take it again. This time I passed with a perfect score. I knew then that I wasn't going to let failure define who I am or stop me from achieving my dreams.