Lynn LaPlante: Candidate profile
City: Glen Ellyn
Office sought: DuPage County Board District 4
Family: Married with four children
Occupation: Principal violist with Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and guest musician with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra; writer on topics such as gun violence prevention, politics and women's issues
Education: Bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana; master's from the University of Notre Dame
Civic involvement: Founder and president of Glen Ellyn Women Leaders; member Glenbard West Boosters Board and Association of Music Parents; volunteer, Bridge Communities; volunteer and parishioner, St. Petronille; member, Chicago Federation of Musicians
Elected offices held: Milton Township precinct committeewoman
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?
By running for local office, I am practicing what my hero, President Jimmy Carter, preaches: to be of service to others.
I am serving my community already, as an elected precinct committeewoman, where I am running for my third term, and as an extremely active volunteer in many local organizations and charities. I would bring this same passion for public service to the county board.
I want to change the narrative that politics is dirty. The majority of people want honesty, ethics, morals and values -- both in our political system and in our elected officials. We need to purposefully elect people like me to local offices -- and reframe our political system from the ground up.
My motivating factor to serve is right under my roof, in my own family: my son was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. We are so fortunate that we have wonderful insurance that lets us afford his lifesaving insulin and gives us access to the best medical care. This is how it should be for everyone, and it appalls me that it is not. I will work tirelessly toward affordable insulin for all in DuPage County.
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 was recently selected to the Illinois Women's Institute of Leadership through a very rigorous application process. I am the only woman from DuPage County to be selected in nearly a decade. This intense training program, held in Chicago, Springfield and Washington, D.C., will provide me with the necessary skills needed to serve effectively as an elected official.
I have spent my professional life as a union member working collaboratively in 60-piece orchestras, with people from all walks of life, from around the world. We focus on our similarities and what unifies us, teaching these skills in experiential workshops -- to Fortune 500 companies, national and international audiences -- demonstrating what progressive, innovative leadership looks like, using interactive and creative problem solving. I would bring this same spirit and experience to the county board.
I want to prioritize our election integrity by purchasing new voting machines to replace the outdated and malfunctioning ones currently in use. We need to secure federal funding for these machines, find room in our budget for them, or both. We vote for every single office on the ballot on these machines -- from county board to President of the United States -- and we must ensure their integrity is intact.
3. Should county board members continue to start their regular board meetings with an invocation? Please say why or why not.
This issue was already voted on in March of 2019, with the majority of board members agreeing to continue the practice of having invocations before meetings.
According to the county board resolution: "The practice is deemed by the county board as a celebration of diversity, thoughtful expression and tolerance while lending an essential element of dignity and solemnity to the proceedings."
My focus is to ensure all constituents in DuPage County feel welcomed at county board meetings, regardless of religious affiliation, cultural background or belief. Currently, as stated in the resolution, the invocation "is led by various local faith leaders representing the richness of religious and cultural expression in DuPage County." It would be my job to listen to my constituents and ensure they are satisfied that their faiths are equally represented, and they feel all cultures and practices are respected, and to ensure they are satisfied with this approach.
Partisan fighting over this issue is simply a way to divide us and distract us from our job at hand.
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.
I feel very strongly that a lack of transparency in the way the county board conducts business is hurting the taxpayers of DuPage County. Vendors seeking to do business in DuPage County are often awarded contracts based on previous campaign contributions to board members, resulting in a toxic pay-to-play atmosphere.
Instead, I propose that the county board implement strict vendor disclosure requirements and impose restrictions on campaign donations, which would help the county avoid conflicts of interest and pay-to-play schemes. Companies who want to do business in DuPage County would be required to complete disclosure forms detailing campaign contributions to all board members and countywide elected officials.
In the case of elected officials, they must disclose any consulting work they do on behalf of these businesses and also must recuse themselves from voting on the proposed vendor they consult for.
In terms of the public's access to records, all of these completed disclosure statements should be made available at county board meetings and posted on the county's website for all constituents to see.
This simply has to be the new, truly transparent way of doing business in DuPage County from now on. The old type of pay-to-play corruption must stop.
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?
The county board has experienced major growing pains this past year that have required adjustments for all. These growing pains have been a distraction from attending to the business at hand. I would approach my role on the board in the same way I already behave in my community: by bringing people together rather than sowing division; adding to the discourse in positive ways; by building up instead of tearing down. I am here for one reason and one reason only: to serve my community. If we can't get along and work together at the local level, there is no hope for us at the national and federal level. We have to start locally, providing a strong example of bipartisanship.
Everything else is just noise. And I think people are tired of all the noise -- I know I am. I will continue my practice and approach of focusing on good governing practices and principles, always knowing that my purpose is to serve. My job as an elected official is to work to improve the lives of my constituents, period, full stop.
6. Do you support a plan to merge the recorder's office with the county clerk's office? Why or why not?
This issue has been discussed at length this past year, and a vote was already taken in November of 2019 that decided the path forward: a feasibility study will be conducted on the financial implications of merging the two offices.
Eliminating the job of recorder will save money initially. The question is how much the physical merger will actually cost taxpayers long term, and what other impacts, if any, it would have on the complex real estate recording process that is so vital to buyers, sellers and contractors.
This feasibility study will help determine the impact -- financial and otherwise -- a merger will have on our county. Based upon this data, which I would share with my constituents, voters can then make an informed decision. I will govern responsibly and do what is best for the county by using the hard facts derived from this study.
If the data shows that a merger is in the best interests of DuPage County, then I will support it. Consolidation should always be a very data-driven and conscientious decision: this is a good governing issue, not a partisan one.