Marcelino Garcia: Candidate Profile
Metro. Water Reclamation District (Democrat)
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.
Twitter: Candidate did not respond.
Family: Single with a large extended family in Puerto Rico, Chicago and all over the world. Proud godfather to 6 kids. Recently lost my father to cancer. My mom fluctuates between the island and Chicago.
Occupation: Attorney by education/ Director of Community Affairs for the Cook County Health & Hospitals System
Education: BA - Dartmouth College
JD - Northwestern University School of Law
Civic involvement: I have been both politically and civically engaged for as long as I can remember. I believe that we live in the best city/region of the United States and therefore I like to promote the attributes of our people both domestically to internationally. It is hard for me to just enumerate some of the organizations that I have supported as each one and the job that I did for them, has a special place in my heart.
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what? What specific professional qualifications do you possess that would make you excel in this office?
I am running for MWRD Commissioner because I have the credentials and work experience to understand the role of a Commissioner on the Board and how the Board should work in conjunction with the Administration/Management to deliver a positive oversight of programming, strategies, and initiatives. I believe that we need to protect the environment and have advocates in office that will fight the current Federal deregulation. Throughout my career, I have worked with budgets, finances, law, legislation, community outreach, education, management and relationship building. I have honed my skills in these areas and am able to interpret documents and ask difficult questions regarding important topics and issues. I am able to bridge the communication gap communities of color and can enhance such relationships with others. I am driven and a good listener who will seek the advice of others before making important decisions that affect everyone. This positive outlook helps me bring parties together to achieve consensus rather than division.
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?
I believe that I will bring an independent voice to the MWRD Board of Commissioners. As an attorney and administrator, I will be able to ask difficult questions of Management and help guide them through strategic planning issues. Throughout my career, I've always worked with the public, helping them improve their lives. I believe that the MWRD needs an Expansion of Marketing and Community Based Programming as few citizens of Cook County understand the scope and work of the MWRD. I will work with the Administration to change how the District communicates with our citizens by enhancing their outreach initiatives and bringing these to all communities across the County in a culturally appropriate manner. The District also needs to expand its programs with schools and offer mentorship programs to students and the workforce in general. By going above and beyond the 4-corners of its mission, the District and its programs will be more accessible to everyone.
Due to the old infrastructure of a combined sewage system, raw sewage may be released into rivers and the lake during a heavy rain. While efforts such as rain barrels are important, does the district have any long-term plans to address the underlying infrastructure issue?
Several decades of building grey infrastructure such as the Deep Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) shows us that we can never dig fast enough to stay ahead of the flooding problem. We need to focus on a One Water approach with a comprehensive evaluation of all the natural and manmade water systems in the regions and how they interact and are affected by a wide range of human actions and policies. While not ruling out the expansion of reservoirs to widen water retention, green infrastructure is an integral part of the approach. Green infrastructure contributes to the resilience of the region in the face of increasingly severe weather (locally severe events that overwhelm community infrastructure) due to climate disruption. Green infrastructure has a wealth of co-benefits for our communities
from places for recreation, habitats for native flora and fauna, air pollutant filtration, cleaning water that returns to streams and rivers, flood reduction, beautification, and groundwater recharge Ã just to name a few. It can also be cost effective per unit of storm water retention. The rain barrel program, and the MWRD's partnership with organizations such as Openlands on turning asphalt schoolyards into green spaces, are good starts, but they are not enough as we need to consider green infrastructure beyond individual properties. I would like to see the MWRD take a more comprehensive approach and do more projects like the comprehensive stormwater planning project it recently undertook with the Village of Robbins.
For years, not one suburban Republican has been elected to the board. Should the board be elected by regional districts?
We must be accountable to voters and very few Cook County residents are even aware of the existence of the MWRD. The individual districts would allow for more education and accountability to residents of the areas that one represents. It also affords the opportunity for these Commissioners to bring forth problems in particular areas and be advocates for their districts. State Representative Luis Arroyo currently has a bill in front of the State Legislature covering this particular issue.
How do you rate the MWRD on transparency and the public's access to records? If you consider it adequate, please explain why. If you think improvements are needed, please describe them and why they are important
Like any governmental body, the District can become better especially when dealing with the public. The District's mission is supported by a budget greater than 1 billion dollars. This governing agency outsizes many cities or towns in Illinois. With the enormous responsibility and cost involved to facilitate the Chicago's area wastewater and storm water management, it requires independent oversight. The elected District board members have touted the idea on the campaign trail without any real-time effort in accomplishing independent oversight. When elected, I will commit that an inspector general independent from the District is funded and legally empowered to have oversight over the District. In addition to the inspector general, the District should be more forthright about responding to FOIA requests and access to records. Too many times, governmental institutions use the FOIA statute to dismiss requests or claim that they are too voluminous. There should be a procedure to ensure that the public and the press obtains what it asks for quickly assuming that it is pertinent.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
There are too many important issues to write about, but in addition to the expansion of Marketing and Community programs, I will focus on being an advocate to protect the environment and work on efficient and effective storm management policies.
Protection of the Environment - I will be a leader to enhance, clean, and protect our water and our ecosystems which provide livelihood and health to our region. I will be an advocate for all environmental issues that protect the quality of our water, rivers and ecosystems. Special attention must be given to the Asian Carp situation as all levels of government must come together to prevent a catastrophic ecosystem disaster if the fish should enter Lake Michigan waters. In addition, at a time of environmental deregulation coming from Washington, we need an active Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to protect the environment and health of all the citizens in our region.
Efficient, effective, and fiscally responsible waste water and storm water management Ã I will work with the Administration on running an efficient and fiscally responsible operation that has a solid and effective long-term strategic plan. The MWRD should work with municipalities to identify and address issues in flood prone areas and at the same time implement new clean water technologies that both protect the environment and help the District deal with waste water.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Pope Francis as he is making changes to one of the biggest political and social institutions in the world.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Be kind to others and help your neighbor.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Spend more time with my dad before he passed away from cancer.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Government/Political Science - Gave me the foundation to think critically and set my career path.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Travel the world - learn languages and learn from other cultures, they will make you a stronger person.