Jessica Vealitzek: 2022 candidate for Lake County Board District 10


Party: Democratic

Office sought: Lake County Board District 10

City: Hawthorn Woods

Age: 46

Occupation: Lake County Board member

Previous offices held: n/a


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?

A: I believe in government as a force for good - to help improve lives, keep people safe, provide infrastructure, and solve problems. Every month, we make decisions that positively impact quality of life in Lake County.

Specifically, I would like to see through the single-use plastics prohibition, the Old McHenry Crossings transportation project, and my work with the Children's Advocacy Center.

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 have been a strong advocate for ethics and the environment. As chair of the Ethics Committee, I led the overhaul of the Ethics & Conduct Code, as well as the creation of the county's first independent Ethics Commission to handle complaints. We created vendor disclosures for possible conflicts of interest and began videotaping all committee meetings, posting them online to make it easier for the public to participate and access information.

On the environmental side, I wrote the resolution prohibiting single-use plastics, which passed with bipartisan support. I have been a strong and vocal supporter of renewable energy initiatives, the Clean Air Ordinance, and greening our fleet, among other policies. I view almost all issues through an environmental lens; clean air and water, mental and public health, flooding - they all have connections to the natural world.

Q: Given the recent history of flat tax levies, do you think the county/forest preserve have done good jobs of budgeting or do you see specific area that can be improved?

A: We kept the county portion of the property tax levy flat for the first time in at least a generation, and we did it three years in a row. It was our recognition of people's burden, but it's not our solution to budgeting. We also eliminated taxing bodies that had outlived their purpose and ended the process of budgeting for vacancies. We look continuously - -continuously - for ways to provide good service that is efficient and cost effective. For example, the master plan we approved for Lakewood, the county's largest forest preserve, will save $1 million per year in operational costs by doing things like reducing paved surfaces and mowed areas, removing aging buildings and building a NetZero facility.

Q: Would you support putting a referendum on the ballot for voters to decide if they wish to issue new bonds to preserve open spaces, restore habitats, create more trails and upgrade forest preserves?

A: Yes, I would support that. Preserving open spaces is vital to building resiliency in the face of climate change, as well as providing recreation and improving mental health. However, we have to be careful about how much land we acquire by also making sure we have the operational dollars to care for that land.

Q: What is the single most important issue facing your district and how should the county address it?

A: Transportation. This board began tackling the $1 billion backlog of transportation projects we inherited, funding projects for turn lanes, smart tech, bike paths, underpasses at rail crossings, etc. I successfully advocated for funding for grade separations at two rail intersections in my district - at Old McHenry Road and at Diamond Lake Road - as well as trail access to Lakewood Forest Preserve from the south, which will create connections between communities. We also created Ride Lake County in partnership with PACE, making it easier for seniors and those with a disability to get around. Investing in multi-modal transportation infrastructure is good for homeowners, businesses, and overall quality of life.

More broadly - climate change. We increased funding for stormwater management, made it easier for residents and businesses to go solar, increased the hybrid and electric fleet, and hired a sustainability coordinator to oversee environmental efforts across departments, among other things.

Q: Lake County officials want public feedback on how to spend portions of some $135 million in leftover federal pandemic funding. What are your thoughts on how the money ought to be spent?

A: I serve on the special ARPA subcommittee, and I served on the special subcommittee for COVID Relief before that. I support our efforts to prioritize affordable housing, food distribution, water system infrastructure, workforce development, mental health and public safety. I support allocating funds for improvements to the Depke Juvenile Justice facility, which are sorely needed. I will be interested to see the funding requests we receive later this fall from outside organizations. I am particularly interested in environmental objectives that have a broad, countywide impact on clean air and water, and/or stormwater management.

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