Firearms, floods and lobbyists top issues in county board primary
Gun reform, flooding and the use of lobbyists are among the top issues being raised by Democrats seeking their party's nomination for a District 4 seat on the DuPage County Board.
The five candidates in the crowded Democratic primary on March 17 are Hadiya Afzal of Glen Ellyn, Janette DeFelice of Glen Ellyn, John Jacobs of Wheaton, Lynn LaPlante of Glen Ellyn and Hailey Nicewanner of Glen Ellyn.
The top vote-getter will advance to the general election in November to face incumbent Republican Tim Elliott of Glen Ellyn.
During recent endorsement sessions with the Daily Herald, Jacobs and DeFelice both said they believe flooding is a major issue for District 4, which includes all or parts of Addison, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, Lisle, Lombard, Wheaton and Winfield.
"I hear about flooding everywhere I go," Jacobs said. "We have a lot of new development going on, and I'm seeing a lot of flooding. We need to rectify that."
DeFelice said more infrastructure improvements are needed to alleviate flooding. She said projects should include more "green" solutions, such as permeable pavers, roof gardens and native planting.
She also would like county government to do what it can to address climate change.
"It's a bipartisan issue that I think we can all get on board with," DeFelice said.
To help reduce carbon emissions, Afzal said, the county should work to increase bike lanes and improve public transportation.
"It's almost impossible to get around the suburbs without a car," Afzal said.
Meanwhile, LaPlante says she believes county board members could play a role in promoting gun reform.
LaPlante said she's been involved for years in the gun violence prevention movement. That experience has taught her that state and federal legislation is the only way to achieve change.
So if she's elected to the county board, LaPlante would use the seat to advocate for "common-sense" gun laws.
"It's a platform," LaPlante said. "When you're given a platform and access to other politicians who have the legislative authority, then you get to use your platform for causes like this."
While she says she would reach out to state and federal lawmakers, LaPlante doesn't believe DuPage should be using state and federal lobbyists.
This fiscal year, DuPage is spending $220,000 to use three lobbying firms -- two in Springfield and one in Washington.
But LaPlante says county board members should make their own connections with lawmakers. "That is their job," she said.
Afzal said there already are county board members who have ties to state legislators.
"It shouldn't really require two more people (lobbyists) to do your job for you," she said.
While she acknowledges a federal lobbyist could be useful, she said she's not convinced DuPage should continue spending $80,000 a year to have one.
Jacobs said he would vote to eliminate the contracts with all three lobbying firms.
"I feel like I'd do a much better job than a lobbyist articulating the things that I would like done," he said.
Nicewanner declined to participate in the endorsement interviews.