Janette DeFelice: Candidate profile
City: Glen Ellyn
Office sought: DuPage County Board, District 4
Family: Married with two children
Occupation: Medical writer, essayist, former adjunct professor of humanities, former adjunct professor of political science, former lecturer in medical clinical skills.
Education: Doctor of Medicine from Chicago Medical School; Master of Arts in Humanities from The University of Chicago; bachelor's in political science from Indiana University
Civic involvement: Art therapy assistant at The University of Chicago Children's Hospital; teaching intern in biology and genetics at an alternative high school in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago; member of the Citizens Advisory Council for Community
Community Consolidated School District 89; former Milton Township precinct committeewoman
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 trained as a physician. As such, I am acutely aware of the devastating public health consequences the people of DuPage County will endure if we are not prepared for the effects of climate change. Rising temperatures will bring increased heat-related illnesses affecting outdoor workers and other vulnerable populations, while increased flooding has the potential to overwhelm our stormwater systems and will bring disease-bearing mosquitoes and ticks. We must be prepared.
Furthermore, economic growth is not sustainable if we continue doing business as usual in our changing environment. My vision is to embrace the $1.9 trillion renewable energy industry and invest in local business and union labor to design and build green infrastructure.
Bringing green jobs to DuPage County will not only bolster our local economy, but will also ensure that our children have a healthy, sustainable future.
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 will bring a much-needed scientific and medical perspective to the board. With our nation's move toward anti-scientific thinking, climate denialism, and out-of-control gun culture, it is important to balance local government with people who have expertise in different fields who will use data to drive decision-making to protect our communities.
Starting on day one, my priority will be putting the health and safety of the people of DuPage County (especially our children) first.
3. Should county board members continue to start their regular board meetings with an invocation? Please say why or why not.
No, county board meetings should not start with a prayer.
Have we, in DuPage County, not read a little thing called the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution? About it, Thomas Jefferson said: "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."
If an individual county board member would like to pray to their god, they should absolutely feel free to do so. However, to put upon every single member to pray to the same god, or to pray at all when that is not their preference, is not the American way.
This is one of those nonissue issues the conservative majority is pushing since they have little else of substance to stand for. It takes people's focus away from the real issues. We have a looming public health crisis and an economy that is not sustainable for the long term. Additionally, we have money going who knows where when it should be invested straight back into the people of DuPage County.
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.
These days when anyone seeks information about anything, the first place they go is the internet. A user-friendly, functioning website is essential for business. It is also essential for government of the people, by the people, and for the people. When I visit the DuPage County website, I am immediately confused.
I have never had occasion to access public county records as a private citizen, so I can't speak to that.
One thing that would help with transparency is livestreaming and providing on-demand links to all county board and committee meetings. I know this has been the case with some but, as I understand, not all meetings. Additionally, these videos should be easily accessible on the website for citizens to view.
In my candidacy, I have used Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to try and reach as many people in the interest of honesty and transparency. I have announced that future constituents can ask me anything. I have also posted a video about how the primary election candidate lottery works. It is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzgNMY3wfhY
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?
There was a German philosopher named Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel on whom I wrote my Master's essay. He spoke of the evolution of human consciousness ascending to higher and higher planes of understanding only after reconciling what he called a dialectical dilemma of thesis and antithesis. We can only come to a greater understanding of the world around us after struggling with two opposing ideas. Out of this struggle comes a synthesis, a new understanding.
It is my view that the Founding Fathers of our great nation had this in mind when they designed our system of government. Obviously we have the separation of powers, and checks and balances. Two strong political parties grew out of that that are currently at the pinnacle of trying to reconcile their disparate ideas. It is this struggle that will make us stronger as a people and will allow us to better understand the world in which we live.
Out of struggle comes growth. I do believe DuPage County, along with the rest of the nation, is having some growing pains. Bipartisanship will happen if, and only if, we reconcile our competing ideas and work for the betterment of ALL the people of DuPage.
6. Do you support a plan to merge the recorder's office with the county clerk's office? Why or why not?
As I am not yet a county board member, I have not been fully briefed on this issue. Before I commit to supporting or not supporting an issue, I need all the data in front of me so I can feel confident I'm making the right decision for the people of DuPage County.