Donald E. Puchalski: Candidate profile, DuPage County Board District 1
Republican incumbent Donald E. Puchalski of Addison and Democrat Zahra Suratwala of Elmhurst are vying for a seat on DuPage County Board District 1 in the Nov. 3 general election.
Puchalski, a lawyer and former Addison School District 4 board member, was first appointed to the board in 2005.
To explore his campaign website, check donpuchalski.com.
District 1 serves all or portions of Addison, Bensenville, Bloomingdale, Elmhurst, Glendale Heights, Itasca, Lombard, Roselle, Villa Park and Wood Dale.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates to answer a series of questions. Here are Puchalski's replies.
Q: What have we learned as a county from the COVID-19 pandemic and what changes should be made looking forward as a result?
A: I believe the county needs to be better prepared for pandemics and have sufficient masks and other necessary equipment, such as PPE for its residents. The county needs to work together with other taxing bodies to achieve this goal and the success in the containment of any pandemic.
In the future, I think we need to have more involvement from Office of Emergency Management as to these possible pandemics and have a more specific plan as to how to help the residents of DuPage County, whether it be for housing, business, education and especially caring for elderly in nursing facilities. DuPage County needs to be more proactive rather than reactive.
We need to be more aggressive especially with the elderly population and be better prepared and stockpile necessary items.
Q: 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?
A: I am running for reelection because I believe public service is an honor and a privilege. The residents of DuPage need to have good schools and safe neighborhoods.
Public safety is the biggest issue with what has been going on in our society. I'm running for reelection because I am active in my community and I believe DuPage County is very fiscally responsible and manages its money to give the most to its residents.
We don't rely on tax increases and we should not use the taxpayer to pay for things when we can properly manage and must conserve resources. These are tough economic times and we need to tighten our belts. I've always been a proponent of living within your means, having a balanced budget and managing the public's money frugally by providing necessary services. Public safety is so important.
Q: 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?
A: I believe I have been active in maintaining a conservative approach to the county spending. As an incumbent and chairman of transportation, I've always been a proponent of transparency and managing the county budget as prudently as we possibly can. I think I have worked well with all members of the board and the county elected officials.
DuPage County is a great place to live, work and to raise a family. We must maintain that standard for our residents. I'm running for reelection because I can make a contribution to the efficient government in DuPage County during these difficult times. Public safety is my major concern.
Q: Name one concrete program you'll create or personnel move you'll make to improve efficiency in the office or make it more successful. Explain how it will be funded and how you will overcome any obstacles to initiating it.
A: I would have a Diversity and Inclusion committee consisting of various taxing bodies and private businesses in a task force. I would have 20% set aside for various contracts and services for minority groups in DuPage County. This would include professional services and construction contracts. DuPage has a diverse population, which should be a vital part of the government process. We need to implement a Minority Business Program. We need outreach initiatives and deliver a process for DuPage residents who are minorities. We need to assist disadvantaged business with contracting opportunities in DuPage County.
Q: Describe your position on transparency in the office and the ease of access to records by the public. If you believe improvements are needed, what are they and how would you go about achieving them?
A: I believe government should be as transparent as it can be. All records, checkbooks, and all correspondence should be easily accessible. A FOIA should not be required to see what the county is doing with its money and how contracts are bid out. It should be all online, including bids and relevant documents.
I believe we should do more and have more public access and more services should be bid such as professional services. The presumption should be to bid and no sole source. I think bidding is the most fair for all services whether they be engineering or other professional services. It should be easy for a citizen to look at what's going on in all departments and have access to all records except for various personal information. I've always been a proponent of having all financial records contracts bids open and online.