Dona Smith: Candidate Profile
Winfield Township Supervisor
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
City: West Chicago
Twitter: Candidate did not respond.
Family: I'm married to Phil Smith. I have three children, four step children, and twelve grandchildren. I'm the daughter of Retired State Representative Donald N. Hensel and Mary Ann Hensel, and sister to Dave, Steve, Rick and Jim Hensel. I am a lifelong resident of West Chicago.
Occupation: Winfield Township Supervisor
Education: I am current on my certifications (retest yearly) for OMA (Open Meetings Act) and FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), as well as regular continuing education classed for IMRF (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund) and annual Township Officials educational conferences.
Civic involvement: Presently the President/volunteer of the WCMAD (West Chicago Mosquito Abatement District); vice president of the American Legion Auxiliary, Post 300, and member of the West Chicago Lions Club.
Previous involvements include WC youth commission, WC open gym director, religious ed instructor, and National Night Out chairperson.
Elected offices held: Winfield Township Clerk 1997-2003
Winfield Township Supervisor 2003-Present
Name the three most important goals or objectives this board should tackle in the coming term. Prioritize them, and briefly discuss why you believe each to be critical, and how the board should go about addressing them.
1.As Supervisor of Winfield Township, I believe working with other units of government to create and enhance services that best serve our residents is the most important goal for this coming term. We have a senior/disabled bus service that under my supervision and reformation has been very successful in assisting in their transportation needs. However, public transportation in general is lacking in our area. My goal is to meet with local communities in order to develop a plan to best address the transportation needs of all residents.
2.Health Issues resulting from vector borne diseases like West Nile Virus are becoming more prevalent in our area, while some southern states already have issues with Zika. As an active member of the DuPage County Mosquito Taskforce I am aware of the dangers these diseases can have on a community. I will work with other Townships and DuPage County to address this issue and identify the best solution to offering border-to-border coverage for DuPage County.
3.With possible changes to National Healthcare, I believe that Townships should take a major role in working with the DuPage County Health Department and the State of Illinois to ensure that our residents continue to receive proper medical care. As a past executive council member of the DuPage Health Coalition, I am proud to have been involved in the development of Access DuPage and community clinics which were put in place before the Affordable Care Act.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
1. General Assistance for the indigent
2. Assessment of real property for the basis of local taxation
3. Maintenance of all roads and bridges outside federal, state, and local jurisdictions
In addition to the mandated programs, the Supervisor's office also offers: Senior/Disabled Bus Service, Ways (Wayne/Winfield Townships Area Youth/Family services) program, Notary Publics, Weed Control Services, Voter Registration, Absentee Voting, Temporary Parking Placards and Passport Applications, as well as maintenance and records of Big Woods Cemetery.
Winfield Township was the first to partner with Milton Township for a County-wide CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) Program. This intergovernmental agreement showcases the benefit to all residents of DuPage County by governments effectively working together. Because of this partnership, there are over 1,215 active members available to call on in a disaster.
Winfield Township celebrates Local Government Week with an Annual Open House for residents to come and learn about township government and talk with elected officials about any questions they may have.
We also host an annual recycling event in the fall, which was developed with the Winfield Township Road District. The program has been very successful and we feel it is a service we offer to help residents dispose of items that might otherwise end up in a landfill.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
In Winfield Township vacant land being annexed into municipalities will not lessen the need for our services, which are as relevant as they were ages ago. The Township General Assistance Programs help those residents that find themselves with little or no income. Municipalities do not offer this type of assistance, and these residents do not qualify for any county/state/federal type of assistance program. That situation does not change no matter how large the municipalities are in the township.
Also, it is important that all property within the township is assessed locally to ensure accuracy and accountability to the taxpayers that elected the Assessor. Again, those two mandated responsibilities do not change because town borders may change within the township.
The third mandated program is maintenance of all roads and bridges outside federal, state, and other local jurisdiction. I have found that people live in unincorporated areas because they like living on a more rural road. Presently, our Road District has 41 miles of roads for which the Highway Commissioner is responsible and which he maintains with his experienced staff.
Resident needs are always changing. With that come new roles for local government. I am open to any discussion on responsible and reasonable roles we could play. Specifically, Winfield Township will join with other townships in DuPage to address the mosquito abatement services for DuPage County.
Are there any township offices that should be eliminated or consolidated?
In Winfield Township I believe that we provide services that are not offered at other levels of government. These services are needed and best served at the Township level. Without knowing all the facts in other townships, it would be irresponsible to mention any specific township office.
However, I do believe that townships that are coterminous with a municipality should be reviewed for consolidation, and townships that have tax collectors that do not collect taxes could be a way of eliminating unnecessary services.
Can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
I am proud, as the current Supervisor, that our Township has consistently proven to be fiscally responsible. Townships only receive property tax. We do not receive funds from sales tax, state or federal governments, or any other entity. We have always had a balanced budget, lived within our means, and have not found it necessary to supplement our revenue with either bonds or loans. The Township average percentage of your 2015 property tax for the Supervisor's Levy is 1.33%.
We are a small population township with over 50% of our township off the tax rolls (we include most of Fermi Lab, parts of DuPage Airport, over 4,000 acres of DuPage County Forest Preserve land and Central DuPage Hospital, to mention a few).
Our services stick close to the mandated programs, and are met with a small, dedicated staff. My department has two office employees and one bus driver, and the Assessor's Office is staffed with three employees.
For both the Annual Open House and Recycling events, Township employees volunteer their time which allows us to keep costs down for these important programs. I'm proud of the continued dedication and cooperation of employees to keep events at a minimal cost.
I would not look to eliminate any program, and instead continue to find ways to cut expenses to maintain those programs.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
The most important issues are being fiscally responsible and attentive to the needs of the residents. My door is always open to all residents.
It is also important to be willing to work with other government agencies, which is evident with our township assisting DuPage County by taking LIHEAP and Access DuPage applications. This allows our residents to apply for these programs closer to home and in familiar surroundings. Our successful partnership with CERT is another example of working with other government entities
My willingness to serve on county-wide committees is important in my role as Supervisor. I am currently on the DuPage County Mosquito Taskforce, and the President of the DuPage County Township Supervisor's Association where we network to address issues that affect our townships.
As a lifelong resident of Winfield Township, I am committed to our community, and have been involved in many community programs and committees. I am Vice President of the West Chicago American Legion Auxiliary Post #300, and West Chicago Lions Club, and past chairman of the West Chicago Youth Commission and co-founder and past director of the West Chicago Open Gym Program. For 12 years I taught CCD, Religious Education at St. Mary's Church. I believe that my love for Winfield Township enhances my drive to serve and succeed as Supervisor.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
State Representative Jeanne Ives
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
I was brought up being involved in the community, and taught to understand the importance of giving back.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Ask my parents more questions while they were alive.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
History. It has helped me to recognize the importance to serve the public.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Put money aside for emergencies while sticking to a budget.