Amy Chavez: Candidate profile
Office sought: DuPage County Board, District 5
Family: Married with two children
Occupation: Former sales executive with Lucent Technologies and senior territory manager for Allergan Pharmaceuticals
Education: Bachelor's in Business Administration, Human Resources from Colorado State University
Civic involvement: Co-founder of We Are ONE Naperville, a community forum for inclusion and unity through action; supporter of Moms Demand Action, World Relief and public schools
Elected offices held: None
Questions and Answers
1. 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?
I started attending county board meetings when problems with DuPage County election equipment made the news and when one of the Democratic candidates for State House 41 was removed from the ballot. I believe many of the problems with our elections commission have been righted; however, I am troubled that requests for fully funding the elections budget, after years of underfunding, have not received the necessary support.
While attending the board meetings, I realized how my business expertise would be an asset to the county's budgeting process, which seems to be woefully under-workshopped with the current leadership. Without a detailed review of each DuPage County department's funding, I question whether they are under- or overfunded in relation to the approximately $480 million that the board oversees.
During my tenure at Lucent Technologies, I was the liaison to the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee. I managed a $350-million telecommunications project to meet the technology and data demands of the Olympic Games build out. Coming from a corporate environment, I can offer a new perspective on this process. In addition, because I have not ever held an elected office, I am not mired in any preexisting allegiances, which I believe gives me a distinct advantage.
2. 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 have several priorities for the board. First, as mentioned above, I would like to create efficient oversight of tax dollars through better budgeting practices. This includes increased workshopping of the proposed budget with in-depth analysis into each department's line-item expenditures to identify under/over-funding.
Second, I believe DuPage County needs to further develop a resilient infrastructure that protects our environment by focusing on clean air, clean water and clean energy. This can be achieved by implementing measurable goals to ensure we are meeting the Cool DuPage program's promises -- such as reducing greenhouse gases by 20% by 2030. In addition, partnering with the DuPage County Forest Preserve to protect wetlands and prioritize community green space that improves biodiversity, ecosystem resilience, and stormwater management is essential for protecting the quality-of-life for DuPage residents.
Third, we need a focus on sustainability in regard to business development. The county should support infrastructures that recognize the ties between human health and wellness, and drive better individual and business decisions that support the county's sustainability goals. This can be achieved by requiring third party certifications, such as LEED, for updating the county's old infrastructures and building new; keeping in mind that every dollar spent on sustainable development creates energy savings in addition to a healthier environment for our community.
3. Should county board members continue to start their regular board meetings with an invocation? Please say why or why not.
As a Christian candidate, I take my religious freedoms very seriously. I believe that the true strength of any religious, spiritual, or personal belief relies on a distinct separation from the powers of the state. To mingle religious and governmental entities and practices diminishes the strength and voice of both because they begin to inflict influence on each other. Rather than opening county board meetings with an invocation, it seems more appropriate to begin with a moment of silence, allowing each individual to pray, reflect, or meditate in a way that honors their individual spirituality.
4. How do you rate the county government on transparency and the public's access to records? If you consider it adequate, please explain why. If you think improvements are needed, please describe them and why they are important.
Although public records are currently available, the process of searching for and obtaining them is archaic. Public access and transparency are imperative for creating trust with taxpayers who want to know how their dollars are being allocated. In its present form, DuPage County's website is in desperate need of an overhaul to meet the ease-of-use standards that most savvy consumers now expect. In doing so, the county can redesign the way the public accesses information. Fostering an informed citizenry will encourage civic engagement and make our community stronger.
5. Does there need to be more bipartisanship and cooperation on the county board? If yes, what would you do to help make that happen?
Yes, bipartisan solutions through negotiation and an honest discussion of where you stand should be the goal. Cooperation between parties on the board, however, is inherently dependent on the specific issues on the table. My loyalty is not to my party or to the other members of the board, but rather to the constituents in my district. That being said, I do believe that there is room for improving the overall professionalism and respect within the chamber for each member as a representative voice for their district. I hope that my voice will lend a sense of unity to the current discourse.
6. Do you support a plan to merge the recorder's office with the county clerk's office? Why or why not?
Generally, my business background and desire for cost efficiencies make me favor these mergers and consolidations of departments; however, I believe these mergers should only take place once the resiliency of both entities can be ensured. Although I supported the decision to merge the election commission's duties under the clerk's office, I am against merging the recorder under the clerk at this time. The fact that the board is unable to fully fund the election's budget requests troubles me, and leads me to believe that the monetary support for successful consolidation with the recorder may be withheld. The recorder's duties are of vital importance to the operations of the county, and at times, redundancies in staff and operations add to overall resiliency. I believe this merger can be successful if realistic funding requests are honored, but the timing may need to be pushed out one year to allow for successful implementation.