Democratic candidates say they will work with others on county board
One candidate is promising to be an independent voice, while the other has worked across party lines as a township official.
Both Democrats competing for their party's nomination for a District 5 seat on the DuPage County Board -- Amy Chavez of Naperville and Mary Jo Mullen of Lisle -- say they would work cooperatively with everyone on the 18-member panel.
"Even if the Democrats were to take a majority, we don't always agree," said Mullen, who is the supervisor of Lisle Township. "So if I want to get something done, I have to work with everybody."
Chavez, a former sales executive with Lucent Technologies, says her job on the county board would be to "make the right decisions" for District 5, which covers all or parts of Aurora, Lisle, Naperville, Warrenville and Woodridge.
"I just see myself stepping in and doing what's best for my district," Chavez said. "Sometimes it will align with the party and sometimes it won't.
"I see myself as an incredibly independent person," she said.
Whoever wins the Democratic nomination March 17 will advance to the November general election to face Kevin Coyne, a Naperville City Council member who is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
The seat currently is held by Republican James Healy of Naperville, who isn't seeking reelection.
As the Lisle Township supervisor, Mullen said she's worked with a township board dominated by Republicans.
"We had to spend a lot of time forming as team," she said, "learning how to work together."
If elected to the county board, Mullen said she would resign from her township post. She also would ask to meet with county board Chairman Dan Cronin.
"I don't want to have an adversarial relationship with him," she said.
Mullen said nothing will get accomplished if Democrats and Republicans on the county board can't get along.
"The idea is that we're working for the people," she said. "And you can't get anything done if it's just fighting."
When it comes to specific issues, Chavez said she would like to see a greater focus on sustainability and business development.
For example, she said it's essential for the county to continue to attract new businesses.
"That's what keeps the revenues coming in" for things like schools and roads, Chavez said. "We have to focus on business development."
She also would like to examine whether DuPage is spending too much money to have lobbying firms push its legislative agenda in Springfield and Washington.
"I want to dig deep into these budgets," Chavez said. "I think that's one of the things that's a big line item for me. Are we overpaying for lobbyists?"
While lobbyists provide "critical" information to the county, Chavez said county board members could help lobby state lawmakers
Mullen said some issues she would like the board to address include flooding, social services and improving staffing levels at the DuPage Care Center, which is a county-run nursing facility in Wheaton.
She said a major issue facing the district is environmental sustainability.
"If we are not being proactive and taking action now, we are not going to be able to start reversing impacts," said Mullen, adding she would like the county to take measurable action and incentivize individuals, businesses and communities to as well.