Get to Know Dawn
Candidates get asked all sorts of questions, and rightly so. Constituents deserve the chance to get to know who could be running their government and how they would govern. I decided to compile a few questions I’ve been asked by various organizations so you can get to know me a little better.
By Dawn DeSart
Candidate for DuPage County Board, District 5
What made you decide to take the step to run for the board?
(from an interview with the Lisle Township Democrats and the Daily Herald)
Some of my friends in the various Democratic groups I’m involved in suggested that I run for the DuPage County Board in District 5. I really had no intention of running, but I invited Liz Chaplin to my home to talk about the board and about her experiences. She was very encouraging. At the same time, she seemed discouraged that she was the lone Democrat fighting for progressive issues on the Board. The DuPage County Board is an organization which is run through committees. Liz told me that Dan Cronin (the Republican Chairman of the Board), selects who will chair each committee and on which committee each Board member sits. Without a majority, Democrats have little say in our county’s government.
I don’t believe the board is representative of DuPage County. There are 18 members on the board and one chair. Of those 19, there are only four women and one Democrat. This does not represent DuPage County, where a little over 51 percent of the population is female and where the county voted overwhelmingly Democrat in the past several presidential elections.
What in your background makes you especially prepared or motivated for this office?
(from an interview with the Lisle Township Democrats)
I am a five-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. My research skills are excellent. I also served on the Indian Prairie School District 204 Board of Education, where I used those research and interviewing skills to ask the tough questions others couldn’t and didn’t.
What can be done to make the work of DuPage County more transparent and accessible to voters?
(from the League of Women Voters-Naperville Forum)
The first way the DuPage County Board can demonstrate transparency is to move the board meetings from 10 a.m. every other Tuesday to Tuesday evenings, since mornings are obviously incredibly inconvenient times for most working citizens. When I served on the IPSD 204 Board of Education, meetings were always held at 7 p.m. on Mondays, and we often had a full room of involved citizens. This is the best way to engage the public.
Another way to achieve transparency is to publish the county budget on the website every month. That way, every DuPage County resident would know exactly how the board spends and on what. We also should email the minutes from each meeting to residents every Wednesday after the Tuesday board meeting. This update would include the issues discussed the previous night and how each board member voted.
As a resident of DuPage County, District 5, I currently receive a monthly newsletter, which shows ribbon cuttings and other ceremonial-type items, but does not reflect the official business of DuPage County. Ideally, there would be regular media blitzes, informing DuPage County residents of this email service.
The DuPage County Board approves an annual budget of almost $440 million. What changes would you suggest to make sure DuPage taxpayers’ money is well spent?
(from the League of Women Voters-Naperville Forum)
The primary job of the board is to ensure DuPage taxpayers’ money is well spent. I call for the DuPage County Board to open up for bid all contracts that exceed $10,000. This way, even the whisper of cronyism can be avoided, and the county is assured the best, most cost-efficient products and services. This objective alone would also allow for more transparent, better business practices.
Additionally, I advocate for a reduction of the board itself. Most other collar counties have two representatives per district on their boards. There is absolutely no benefit to residents employing three board members per district. This reduction in redundancy would automatically save the county $312,612. Dissolving the Recorder’s Office into the County Clerk’s Office would also save the county at least $145,485, plus the additional $6,500 stipend currently enjoyed by the County Recorder.
These savings could then be reinvested into expanding resident services for our veterans, senior citizens, families, and persons with disabilities. I don’t want to see social services cut, and I will be a champion for those who need those services most.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
(from an interview with the Daily Herald)
Treat the CEO and the janitor with the same grace and respect.
A five-time Emmy Award winner, Dawn DeSart is a journalist and local activist. She is running for the DuPage County Board, District 5, and has previously held positions on the Indian Prairie School District 204 School Board, the Wheatland Township Democrats, and the Fox Valley United Way. In 2000, then Naperville mayor A. George Pradel declared May 9th as “Dawn DeSart Day” in Naperville.