Amy Chavez: Candidate profile, DuPage County Board District 5
Democrat Amy Chavez of Naperville and Republican Kevin Coyne of Naperville are vying for the DuPage County Board District 5 seat in the Nov. 3 election.
The seat currently is held by Republican James Healy of Naperville, who isn't running for reelection.
Chavez is a former sales executive with Lucent Technologies and senior territory manager for Allergan Pharmaceuticals seeking her first elected office. She co-founded We Are ONE Naperville, a local forum for unity through action that includes about 1,400 members.
To explore her campaign website, visit www.amychavez2020.com.
District 5 includes all or parts of Aurora, Lisle, Naperville, Warrenville and Woodridge.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates a series of questions. Here are Chavez's responses.
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: Our present reality is one in which the value of adaptable local government is more important than ever. We have witnessed the absolute failure of our federal arm to respond to this pandemic, leaving the real work of protecting communities, livelihoods and lives to front-line workers and state and local government.
I am the best candidate to tackle this ever-changing challenge. My business background as a collaborative leader and my ability to handle budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars will help me prioritize funds so that the citizens of DuPage County can get the health care they deserve. We must focus on the health of people of color who have been more negatively impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks. DuPage County Health, which the county board oversees, will need adequate resources to effectively track and trace COVID outbreaks so that we can contain clusters and diminish their impact on our citizens and our economy.
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: After the elections in 2016 and 2018, I was compelled to become more involved in local government. At that time, DuPage County was making national news because of our faulty voting equipment. Thus, I began attending county board meetings and quickly realized that the skills I had refined in the corporate environment could help solve our local problems.
My slogan is "Community. Character. Chavez." because I believe that building a better community for all DuPage County citizens must be at the heart of our decisions. I also believe that character and professionalism are the foundational values of my campaign. I'm running to replace Jim Healy (R), who is stepping away after serving for 20 years. While I appreciate his commitment, we need new and innovative ideas coming to the table, and I will bring purpose and passion to the board. Part of that purpose will be digging deep into the DuPage County budget and ensuring that tax dollars stay local in order to address community needs.
Specifically, I want to strengthen existing resources to keep DuPage County healthy, safe and productive in this new COVID era, and to provide avenues for getting people back to work.
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: My desire to serve in local government rests on the foundation of a robust corporate career. At Lucent Technologies, as liaison to the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee, I managed a $350-million telecommunications project to meet the tech and data demands of the Olympic Games. In the healthcare industry, I managed a multistate region for Allergan focusing on glaucoma prevention and was consistently recognized among the top performers. While there, I also assisted our indigent patient populations and our veteran's pharmacy formularies gain access to high-quality medications.
My priorities as a county board member will be to keep our county healthy and get people back to work. I will use my business skills to ensure that our health department is properly funded and that DuPage County residents who are out of work can access skills training and connect with local employers. In response to the divisive rhetoric that was born out of the 2016 election, I co-founded We Are ONE Naperville, a local forum for inclusion and unity through action. I also volunteer for organizations that reflect Democratic values -- especially those that focus on gun violence prevention and our public schools.
Q: Describe your position regarding the allocation of resources in the recorder of deeds' office. Are personnel allocated as they should be? Are there capital expense or other budgetary items that the office must address, and, if so, how do you propose to address them?
A: To properly address the personnel and expenditure needs of the recorder of deeds' office, I would need day-to-day knowledge of the interworkings of that specific office. In its oversight function, the DuPage County Board should be sure to maintain its "big picture" role. The board must trust the individuals who lead each department as well as its employees to have some level of autonomy over the personnel needs and the capital expenditure requests. That said, as the need arises to re-evaluate budgets on a department level, I will be prepared with my corporate experience to perform a high-level analysis.
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: The racial tensions that characterize the national climate will need to be addressed locally within the DuPage County Sheriff's Office. I will be an advocate for stronger citizen oversight of the sheriff and local police, and will also work to ensure that such oversight accurately reflects the diverse makeup of our community.
We need to create opportunities for law enforcement to converse with community members from all backgrounds and to mitigate concerns before they become tragedies. This means rooting out unconscious bias and making sure officers reflect the racial and cultural diversity of the communities they serve. We must actively seek diversity in our hiring process by partnering with community groups like the NAACP and by holding job fairs in the heart of our Latinx, South Asian, and other diverse community groups. To accomplish these goals, we will need to closely examine the current allocation of resources to make sure we invest in long-term solutions, such as affordable housing and accessible physical and mental health care. These are investments that make communities safer by addressing the causes of crime and thus, preventing it before it begins.
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: Although citizens can access DuPage County's public records, the process is archaic and cumbersome. Public access to this information is critical, and transparency is imperative for creating trust with taxpayers who want to know that their dollars are being spent with their best interests in mind. Currently, the DuPage County website is in desperate need of an overhaul to meet the ease-of-use standards that most savvy consumers now expect. Doing so will increase access to information and make the process less daunting for the end-user. I believe that ultimately, with information at hand, DuPage County residents will feel engaged with their local government and hopefully take a greater role in the decisions that directly impact their daily lives.