The DuPage County Board provides services to residents in hopes of maintaining their quality of life in a cost effective way. Seven Republicans are running in hopes of securing a spot for the County’s District 5, which covers parts of Naperville, Lisle and Aurora.
During the March 20th Primary, voters will select three Republicans to run against one unopposed Democrat in the general election this fall.
Incumbent James Healy has been a member of the DuPage County Board for the past 13 years and is ready to continue his tenure. He says his skills in Urban Planning, City Management and Law help him look at the issues from many different angles.
Healy hopes his accomplishments on the board will speak for themselves and give him a chance to keep his seat.
“We’ve reduced the county budget during this time period of economic troubles, down 46%, but yet we’ve not had to increase property taxes,” he said. “We’ve been able to continue the work of the county without having to put it on the back of the taxpayers.”
Healy plans to continue to try and trim the county’s budget.
But he hasn’t worked alone in District 5, fellow incumbent John Zediker joined the board in 2009. He says he brings a long record of service in the community and experience in development to the table. Zediker is the Partner and Chief Operating Officer at Ruettiger, Tonelli and Associates and before that was the Director of Transportation, Engineering and Development for the City of Naperville. He says economic development is important right now.
“We’ve attracted and retained businesses, Navistar, right here in District 5 and that’s thousands of jobs,” said Zediker. “So I think our record of service, in spite of the economic headwinds and political challenges we have at the state and federal levels, we’ve been able to do these in spite those things.”
While he’s had success on the board over the last three years Zediker feels there’s still work to do in terms of consolidation and shared services and wants to continue to bring his expertise to the board.
Lisle resident Ed Young is hoping to bring his village government experience to the county level. He’s a 12-year Lisle Trustee and a Certified Public Accountant. He wants to use his auditing experience to monitor county spending.
“I think at this time that the county board needs someone that’s going to focus on controls,” said Young. “Controls have to start at the top and you have to permeate the organization and all the related organizations about financial controls and that’s the contribution I’d like to make.”
Young got started in local politics to be a voice for the people. He was recently involved in keeping Navistar headquarted in DuPage County.
Another candidate with experience at the city level is former Naperville City Councilman Richard Furstenau. He decided to throw his hat into the ring when he wasn’t reelected for another term. Furstenau was a councilman for 12 years and is a member of the DuPage Water Commission.
He has a few concerns with the county such as the budget and property taxes. He thinks streamlining governments would be a good thing.
“There’s all kinds of overlapping jurisdictions in this county that are being paid for by the tax payers,” said Furstenau. “I can assure you that if you really got after it there’s untold millions of dollars of savings if we can get to the governments to work together and combine some of these efforts.”
If elected, Furstenau plans to ask all the right questions about expenditures for the county.
Patty Gustin has also sat on a number of boards and is ready to take it to the county. Gustin started out on the Lisle Zoning Board of Appeals, and now is the Vice Chair for the Naperville Planning Commission. She’s also a real estate agent.
“In specializing in real estate I specialize in community,” said Gustin. “I know a lot of what’s going on with our residents and what they’re going through right now.”
Gustin wants to look at ways to consolidate county services and would like to either reduce or eliminate pensions for part time elected officials.
The only other woman running for District 5 is business owner Tonia Khouri. Khouri and her husband started Green Tee Lawn Care in 2003 and says budgeting, forecasting, job creation, payroll, and taxes are all skills that will help her on the County Board.
“In 2008, my husband and I looked at each other and said ‘we refuse to take part in this recession,’” Said Khouri. “So, unfortunately, many small businesses faltered, where we actually grew 70%. That took very smart decision making, very carefully planed expenditures, and very innovative use of our work force.”
Khouri feels it’s her time to serve the community. She would also like to address service consolidation and pensions if elected to the board.
Paul Santucci is a realtor, has owned a series of advertising agencies and does independent consulting. His focus is keeping jobs in DuPage County.
“Upon talking to some small business owners that I’ve done consulting for and my neighbors, the big fear is DuPage County taxes and the burdens that they’re putting on small businesses is stymieing the growth,” he said.
Santucci is involved in the PTA and various local organizations and has helped run a number of campaigns in a wide range of political backgrounds. He has also lived in all six districts of DuPage County in his adult life, which he says will help him know about all issues in the county.
The March primary will have three of the seven Republicans running against Democrat Tony Michelassi this fall.
Michelassi joined the board in 2008. He’s the youngest member to ever be elected to the DuPage County Board, but says his age hasn’t stopped him from making decisions and wants to continue representing his generation for another four years.
“I want to make sure that we keep the budget balanced,” said Michelassi. “We have to remember also that we’re a government, we’re not a business and we have to maintain government’s responsibilities to the people while keeping the budget balanced and not asking the people for more money especially in these times.”
Michelassi doesn’t have to run against anyone in the primary and says once they’re over he will work hard to distinguish himself from the other three nominees for the final seats for District 5.
Be sure to tune into NCTV17 on Tuesday March 20th as we bring live election results on the DuPage and Will County Boards, the Congressional race and the DuPage Forest Preserve District 5.
Coverage starts at 9 pm right here on Channel 17.
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