James F. "Jim" Zay: Candidate profile
Name: James F. "Jim" Zay
City: Carol Stream
Facebook: Jim Zay for DuPage County Board
Office sought: County Board District 6
Family: Married with two children
Occupation: Vice President -- Service Stampings Illinois Inc. -- Roselle
Education: Elmhurst College, BA political science & history; Immaculate Conception High School
Civic involvement: DuPage Water Commission chairman, 2010-present; DuPage PADS volunteer; Knights of Columbus; Glenbard North Boosters; Carol Stream Travel Softball Baseball Association -- President; CCSD 93 Anti-Bullying Taskforce; Carol Stream Park District youth coach.
Elected offices held: DuPage County Board -- present, DuPage County Forest Preserve Commissioner 1999 -- 2002, Wayne Township Trustee 1997 -- 1999.
Questions & Answers
1. Why are you running for this office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
I run for this office so I can help make a difference in our community. As we see the state and federal governments continue to fight and not work for the people, local government more than ever has to work for the people. The county of DuPage continues to face pressures from the state's inability to balance a budget and we need leaders on the board who are willing to make tough decisions that is the best for our county and not be pressured by outside issues. With raising a family in the county I want to make DuPage County the best places for not only for my family but for all of the people that live here.
We continue to see the rise of the opioid epidemic here in Du Page and need to double our efforts to make a difference in the community. We need to work with local schools, law enforcement and our municipalities to inform residents on the signs and dangers of this drug. The County has also joined with other counties to go after the drug manufactures and doctors who are over producing and prescribing these drugs. We must continue to look at the budget and make sure we are not wasting the taxpayers money.
2. If you are an incumbent, describe two important initiatives you've led. If you're not an incumbent, describe two ways you would contribute to the board.
I have worked hard on the County Board to make a difference. On property taxes, the County portion of your taxes has not been increased in 10 years. We have been the State model for consolidation of governments and 7 units of government have been abolished. We need to work with other governments to reduce the burden on our taxpayers to find ways to share services and get rid of more layers of government. I have accomplished a lot of work in our District. We have spent over 50 million on Stormwater projects in Bartlett -- Beaver Pond, Carol Stream -- Armstrong Park and Warrenville -- West Branch Du Page River. We replaced the Warrenville Bridge and rebuilt Gary Ave. I will continue to get funding for Stormwater projects and road projects in the District. I will push for more of our schools to join in on heroin our prevention for our kids. As Chairman of the Water Commission we have taken an agency that had to borrow 80 million dollars 8 years ago, to an agency that has reduced staff costs, streamlined operations and now has no debt and reserves to run the commission. We just negotiated an agreement to bring the Village of Bartlett Lake Michigan water starting in 2019.
3. Is there a specific service or amenity that is lacking in the county? If so, how do you propose to provide and fund it?
One of the biggest issues that is being brought to light is mental health. We need to do a better job with early detection or symptoms. From seeing the early signs in our schools to warning signs later in life. We need to train our law enforcement on how to spot these problems when they are dealing with our residents. With the opioid epidemic and metal health we need to find ways to treat and help our residents so they can be productive members of society. We need to work with the medical profession and hospitals to fund programs early and it will save money and lives down the road. Form a collation or public / private partnership.
4. With DuPage County's budget being squeezed by state funding cuts and other factors, what initiatives would you support to increase revenue and/or save money.
The County has not raised it portion of your property taxes in the last 10 years. We continue to look for ways to streamline County government but now with the State coming in and taking away revenue that the County has always received makes this task is even harder. The County has cut about as much as it can and we need to look at new revenue sources. I first would look at a countywide hotel/motel tax on rooms rented in the County. This tax would mostly effect out of town visitors and could generate additional revenue. We need to push the State to increase the motor fuel tax; which has not been raised in over 20 years. A small increase in this tax could generate additional revenue for construction and repair of the roadways which are more congested every day. The County should look into video gaming for the unincorporated areas to create a fair playing field for those business. We continue to see business annexing into towns and villages and the County is losing those tax dollars. With the continuing issues of the heroin and opioid epidemic we are seeing a rise in crime and we need to reinforce our law enforcement. The County should look at a possible public safety sales tax to fund additional sheriff's deputies, states attorneys, staffing the jail and running the court system in Du Page.
5. The county has been focused on consolidation of services and government agencies. How effective has that effort been and how could it be improved?
As we all know, the state of Illinois has too many levels of government and the County's ACT initiative is a start to getting rid of levels we do not need. All levels of government cannot live in a bubble and not see that we all get money from the same pockets and we need property tax relief. I see all of the time when schools, park districts, library boards, etc. say that they need to raise taxes for new projects and raise the taxes the maximum they can by law, well if 12 taxing bodies all raise it the maximum it is costing each property tax owner more money every year and this is not sustainable. Governments need to work with other to find ways to work together to spend less, work on buying items together to get better prices.
With the referendum question we will see what the voters think about consolidation. Hopefully the County has started the discussion and other government agencies will start to think of ways to share services and work to have less government which hopefully can help reduce our property tax burden.
6. What is the single most important issue facing your district and how should the county address it?
High property taxes continue to drive seniors and new families from DuPage County. We need to find ways to freeze property taxes to give our residents a break. One way would be to make sure we are getting the proper taxes from internet sales. The second is to finally get the DuPage Airport Authority off the property taxes. With new business coming in to the business park and the runways being redone its time for them to come off the property tax in the next 3 years. As Chairman of the DuPage Water Commission we had a 35 million dollar sales tax sunset and we now run it as a water utility, the airport should be able to do the same thing.
7. Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Late Senator John McCain, do what's right for the people and not a political party.
8. What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Always treat people the way you want to be treated.
9. If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Life doesn't give you do-overs, but spending more time with my family.
10. What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
History was my favorite in school and with history we see that many events or times we see history repeats itself and to learn from not only the successes but the failures also.
11. If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
I tell my kids to work hard always give something 100 percent, study hard and have fun.