Kimberly Neely DuBuclet: Candidate profile
Office sought: Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
Family: Husband and 2 children
Occupation: Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
Education: B.A. Marketing, University of Illinois; M.B.A., University of Chicago, Booth School of Business
Civic involvement: Alpha Kappa Alpha; The Links, Inc.; The Girl Friends, Inc.; The Museum of Contemporary Art Women's board; Quad Cities Development Corporation board member; former member of Jack and Jill; former AIDS Foundation of Chicago board member
Elected offices held: Appointed to be Illinois State Representative District (26th) May 2011 to January 2013
Incumbent? Yes. If yes, when were first elected: November 2018
Questions and Answers
1. What special knowledge or experience do you have that particularly qualifies you for this office? 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 grew up in a home that frequently flooded during big storms, and I can remember what a burden that was on my family. Providing solutions to low-income communities that reduce home flooding is a very personal cause for me. As our city and region become more and more urbanized, and as we battle climate change, the proliferation of impervious surfaces needs to decrease and the utilization of Green Infrastructure should increase. I am running to insure that we continue to find viable alternatives like Green Infrastructure that can better accommodate excess water, which in turn, keeps it out of homes and basements.
I have accomplished quite a bit in my tenure on the Board. I am most proud of helping to lead the effort, along with my co chair, to amend the Watershed Management Ordinance (WMO). The WMO seeks to prevent future developments from making area flooding and water quality problems worse by regulating sewer construction within MWRD's service area and development within suburban Cook County. The WMO Amendment includes new Watershed Specific regulations. These new regulations include updating the redevelopment provisions relating to stormwater detention and also provides other clarifications.
2. How do you view the role the district has played in controlling flooding and what, if any, actions need to be taken to improve things?
If re-elected to the MWRD board, I plan to support increasing funding towards the continued implementation of its Green Infrastructure (GI) plan. GI allows excess storm water to slowly seep into the soil or evaporate into the air, which ultimately reduces the amount of stormwater that enters our sewers and water ways and can help control flooding. GI also offers environmental, social, and economic benefits. It can increase property values, beautify neighborhoods, cool extreme summer temperatures, support natural habitats, create local green jobs, and enhance public space.
I would also support efforts to provide tax credits or rebates for the use of green infrastructure, including permeable pavement, when permits for development or redevelopment are sought under its Watershed Management Ordinance (WMO). All of these initiatives play a crucial roll in helping to control flooding.
3. What changes in technology, equipment or infrastructure are needed to improve management of the region's water supply.
Increased funding for our Tunnel and Reservoir Project (TARP) is needed to help expedite the completion of Phase II of the McCook Reservoir. Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) have a direct impact on the City of Chicago and other local municipalities in the area that use Lake Michigan and other area waterways as their recreational and drinking water resource .
Since the Thornton reservoir went live in 2015 and first phase of the McCook Reservoir went live in 2017, we have seen a significant reduction in CSOs. This will continue to be the case as we move toward the completion of the second phase of the McCook Reservoir in 2029. MWRD must work closely with the municipalities it serves to develop strategies to help make this happen even sooner to expedite the resolution of the problem of CSOs.
The prevalence of climate change has added increased urgency to our core functions of protection of public health and flood prevention. As we continue to see more intense rainstorms happening in our region and across the country, it is necessary for the District to insure we have the most updated technology and infrastructure to manage the regions water supply.
4. What is the role of the district, and of district commissioners, in promoting conservation of resources?
The District and Commissioners see resource conservation and recovery as a primary role for the District. By promoting resource recovery of biosolids, energy and nutrients from wastewater we both provide a return on investment to taxpayers and benefits our environment. These efforts have lead to the recovery of 145,000 tons of biosolids each year and these biosolids are often used as a soil amendment to add to turf and assist with plant growth in Cook County.
Also the District is currently using renewable energy through the use of biogas from anaerobic digesters at the Hanover Park, Stickney, Calumet, and Egan Water Recovery Plants. The District uses biogas for the production of steam or hot water to satisfy heating demands in the buildings during the winter months and chillers to provide cooling for buildings in warm weather months.
As a Commissioner, it is my responsibility to continue to promote exploring new ways to recover resources from our wastewater and to conserve energy. These actions both protect the environment and save taxpayer resources.
5. 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
Transparency is critical to keeping MWRD accountable to the taxpayers. More must be done to make the information that the District manages easier to find on its website and easier to understand. MWRD must continue to promote transparency and accountability in order for the public to easily access MWRD records.
Last year, I voted in support of establishing an independent Inspector General (IG) via an intergovernmental agreement with Cook County to provide independent oversight through its IG. This was an initiative that had been in the process for a few years but I was proud to have the opportunity to vote in support of the effort as Commissioner. The IG will allow for MWRD to implement best practices in governance and oversight as we continue to be fiscal stewards of the financial resources from Cook County taxpayers.