Office sought: Cook County Board
City: Rolling Meadows
Occupation: Market Research/business consultant
Previous offices held: None elected. Appointed to Rolling Meadows Environmental and Traffic Committees
Q: What is the county board’s role in addressing rising crime rates and what specific policies, programs or initiatives might you support toward reducing violence in Cook County?
A: The board can work with the sheriff’s and state’s attorney’s offices on spending priorities to address problems with electronic monitoring and staffing shortages that hurt the efficiency of those offices. I will advocate for programs through the sheriff’s office that provide local police departments in Cook County with access to remote mental health providers to help them better handle calls involving those in need of these services; this will also free up resources for these local police to focus on other priorities — especially reducing violence in our communities. Also, addressing the root causes of this violence is going to require both trust-building efforts between local law enforcement and the community and better access to mental health care. Finally, and certainly not the least, is addressing gun violence — by limiting access to automatic weapons and large magazines, and enforcing laws to keep firearms out of the hands of those who should not have them
Q: Where do you see the greatest need for transportation enhancements in Cook County and how would you address that on the county board?
A: Cook County falls short on addressing the needs of people who are trying to get around by means other than by car. Public transportation options are sparse in large parts of the Ninth District, and most of them focus on access to downtown Chicago. That doesn’t match the needs of the vast majority of residents who need to travel to other parts of the county. Furthermore, improvements are needed to county roads throughout the district to enable easier and safer access and use by pedestrians and cyclists; among these are installing sidewalks and shoulders where they are lacking and improving intersections to allow safer crossing. I will advocate for these improvements on scheduled county road repair projects and for better public transportation in both the city and suburbs, particularly well-planned, suburb-to-suburb routes that have the potential to reduce congestion on our roads and allow for more use by those who cannot or do not rely on a car to get around.
Q: Should the county board enact a fuel or sales tax holiday to assist residents struggling with rising costs of gas, groceries and other needs? Why or why not?
A: Cook County imposes a 1.75% sales tax, which will generate more revenue as prices rise. In addition, the county collects a 6-cent tax on the sale of each gallon. As prices rise, this tax revenue may exceed projected levels. However, expenses related to the cost of labor, fuel and other necessities for county projects and services will also be rising. I will be open to proposals that return a portion of excess revenue from beyond what will cover those increased expenses, but we need to assess the impact of increased costs on the county budget before considering this option.
Q: What is one county service that is not adequately provided or could be improved in your district, and how would you address that?
A: The Ninth District is a diverse area that spans eight townships and two city wards, each with differing needs for county services. In the western part of the district, a lack of public transportation options is the most striking shortfall in county services. However, sparse public health services in the neighborhoods where people live is deeply inadequate not only all areas in the Ninth District, but throughout Cook County. The lack of public transportation options exacerbates this lack of access to care. I want to prioritize an expanded, countywide network of available providers for primary, reproductive and mental health care services. Making it easier to obtain basic care will keep residents who use these healthier services, reducing the burden on our public hospitals.
Q: Do you see the Cook County government serving the city of Chicago too much and not paying enough attention to the needs in the suburbs?
A: I do not believe that there are too many Cook County services provided to residents of Chicago. There are great health care and transportation needs that are inadequately met within the city. However, there are needs in suburban areas that are often neglected. We need to begin to appreciate that suburban Cook County is fully developed and populated, and that there are transportation and health care needs that must be addressed as we look to improve services. We should recognize that there are other county services that are difficult for city residents to utilize, such as primary and mental health care providers and access to the recreational opportunities of the forest preserves. We need to pay attention to the range of unmet needs among both Chicagoans and suburbanites in Cook County.
Q: What’s your view of the Chicago Bears’ possible move to Arlington Heights? Do you think that would put a strain on Cook County government, such as with sheriff’s patrols, other services, or infrastructure needs? Or do you think it would help other Cook County businesses and tax revenue?
A: The loss of Arlington Park has put a strain on this community, and we need to make sure that some sort of development happens at that site that replaces the jobs and tax revenue that were lost when the track closed. And I am not opposed to a possible move by the Bears to that site. But the residents of the Ninth District and the rest of Cook County should not subsidize this move with new tax or infrastructure burdens that make life in this area more difficult. Any county programs or infrastructure improvement related to development on that site, whether it is a new Bears Stadium or some other project, need to adequately address the impact on local residents, must benefit the local economy and create jobs to replace those lost with the closure of Arlington Park, and must work to address the needs of those residents year-round, not just on game or event days.
Q: Do you support efforts to further restrict gun sales or access to guns otherwise in light of the Highland Park mass shooting, and/or in light of continuing gun violence overall?
A: Gun violence — both mass shootings and the violence that we see in neighborhoods every single day — is out of control in our society and has become a social and public health crisis. I favor continuing the ban on the sale of military-style weapons in Cook County, and support a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines and modifications that allow rapid fire of large number of rounds. We also need to strengthen our laws that keep guns out of the hands of those with a history of violence or threats, and make sure that the sheriff’s office has the resources to remove weapons from those who have had their FOID card revoked. And those who illegally sell weapons and ammunition must be held accountable for the damage they cause.
Q: How could Cook County benefit from recently passed federal spending measures, such as on infrastructure, health care and climate change?
A: Cook County manages the largest public health system in the state. The extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies will translate directly into fewer people needing unfunded county health services and more county residents staying healthier because they have coverage for both primary and preventive care, and will help put our health system on a firmer financial footing. The infrastructure provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act may also provide resources to aid small businesses in Cook County, help replace lead pipes in homes and apartments, improve public transportation options, and help build out charging stations for electric vehicles. Many of these benefits are also key priorities for me, and as a Cook County commissioner, I will work to see that they bring positive change to the daily lives of county residents.