Mary FitzGerald Ozog: 2022 candidate for DuPage County Board District 4
Office sought: DuPage County Board District 4
City: Glen Ellyn
Occupation: DuPage County Board member
Previous offices held: Current DuPage County Board member; Glenbard Township High School District 87 board vice president, 2011-2018
Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
Now in my 12th consecutive year as an elected board member, I believe that good government is possible as long as we always remember that we are elected to serve our community first. That is exactly what I've done these past four years on the DuPage County Board. I want to continue serving because in these unsettled times we need experienced leadership who knows the intricacies and budget structures of the government they run, and know how to help the individual constituents they serve. My community commitment began a few months after we moved to Glen Ellyn in 1986 when I was appointed to my first Village of Glen Ellyn commission. In subsequent years I have been always been involved in our community, including six years on the Village Zoning Board of Appeals, and my eight years of elected service as vice president of the Glenbard Township High School District 87 board. All four of our kids are Glenbard West and college graduates, and I'm also a Navy mom.
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 want to continue standing up for good government. In May 2021 I led a bipartisan effort to reduce the size of the County Board from 18 to 12 to save taxpayers money and make our County Board more responsive and accountable. Sadly, the majority of my fellow Board members did not support this and would not add this as a referendum question for our voters. I have supported every funding request from the Sheriff's Office during my term to support Public Safety. I am the Chair of the $48 million Public Works Committee; Chair, Public Transit; Vice Chair, Transportation; and a member of the Judicial and Public Safety and the Development Committees. I continue to support responsible spending of millions of federal dollars to mitigate the local impact of the COVID pandemic. I helped lead the charge to purchase the first new voting machines in 20 years. I also really enjoy working with individual constituents; right now I am helping a constituent get stormwater relief for their property.
Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming and how the county should deal with them.
In spite of the many difficulties caused by the COVID pandemic, the county budget is in very good shape today. We currently have a $100 million reserve (10% of our total current budget.) Of concern is the County's dependence on sales tax which is over 50% of our total revenue. Overall, I believe our strong current budget situation should continue with conscientious leadership, which is always my top goal when making our monetary decisions.
How do you rate the county government on transparency and the public's access to records? If it's adequate, explain why. If you think improvements are needed, delineate them.
In this area I believe we are doing a great job, and constantly working on improvements. The county has significantly upgraded technology during my term, increasing both transparency and access for our constituents. The Treasurers Office has replaced the antiquated property tax generation system. The Development Department has just gone live with an electronic permitting system. Freedom of Information Act requests are answered in a timely fashion. Thankfully in 2021 the county board approved the first new voting machine system in almost 20 years. We are constantly updating IT systems throughout the County, and hopefully this trend will continue going forward.
What, if anything, should be done to improve automation and customer service in county offices? What steps should be taken to make that happen?
While there is always room for improvement, the county does a great job responding to customer requests. For example, the recent move to a completely online permitting process will speed applications for both commercial and residential projects.