John Simpson: 2022 candidate for DuPage County Board, District 2
Office sought: DuPage County Board, District 2
Occupation: Attorney with Simpson Dattilo
Previous offices held: None
Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
I am a first-time candidate for the DuPage County Board. I'm an attorney by profession and also serve as a local village prosecutor, regularly observing the challenges facing our communities as well as our law enforcement community, which has motivated me most to run for election. Additionally, I have the opportunity to interact with numerous DuPage County departments (as well as other counties) on a regular basis. I am motivated to run for office as the failure to plan pragmatically becomes more apparent in our elected leaders. Our county has over 900,000 residents, each with their own unique opinions, priorities, and life experiences. These experiences shape our fiscal habits, ethical standards, and political leanings. I feel a commissioner's role is to make difficult decisions based on constituent needs that allow his/her community to flourish in the future, while working with state and local governments to ensure everyone's voice can be heard.
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?
My priority would be a collaborative effort between improving public safety and encouraging our county's economic development. Our county exemplifies every tax, regardless of how minor, takes away from our families and businesses to use as they deem fit. As a community, DuPage has always prioritized exceptional schools, safe communities, and thriving businesses. It is a driving factor for new families and residents calling DuPage home. Unfortunately, there are numerous units of government suffering from poor fiscal policymaking and failure to plan long-term. These issues are most notably seen from Cook County which are already having spillover effects in our county. We are now forced in the unwanted position of limiting negative impacts from our neighboring county for their transgressions and failure to plan long-term. I firmly believe the most impactful way to counter poor political decisions of Cook County is to recruit and welcome businesses to make DuPage "home."
Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming and how the county should deal with them.
Spending should constantly aim to maximize impact and efficiency. For many, their county interactions are limited and transactional (birth/marriage certificates, tax payments, or traffic tickets). But the county's budget has far-reaching impacts on everyday life. Many challenges facing major cities are drastically different than those facing DuPage and this national conversation of defunding the police is NOT a one-size fits-all solution. Our sheriff's office, states attorneys, public defenders, and probation & court services are facing major operating changes as a result of Illinois' HB3653 law. Many of these changes are unfunded mandates by the state, requiring the county to pay the bill. The departments and public servants that took an oath to serve and protect the public need proper funding to carry out their duties. Safe communities allow our leaders more time and resources to focus on other issues in DuPage. Without safe communities, other initiatives fall by the wayside.
How do you rate the county government on transparency and the public's access to records? If it's adequate, explain why. If you think improvements are needed, delineate them.
I believe our systems are above adequate, most information can be easily found through online portals on our county website and do not require a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Nearly every county department has a FOIA officer, easily found on the county's website with the necessary contact information, whereby specific records can be requested and obtained. These individual FOIA requests properly balance the public's access to records with an individual's private information. The circuit clerk requires Captcha tests after numerous submissions to prevent and impede commercialization of those records. I believe our county leads the way in terms of counties in Illinois with respect to transparency and the public's access to records, a taxpayer need only compare our county to any county in Illinois to see how transparent and readily available our information is made available in comparison to our peers.
What, if anything, should be done to improve automation and customer service in county offices? What steps should be taken to make that happen?
The county has done an effective job at directing people to its websites to obtain information to their questions or requests. Automation allows each county department to address their respective FAQs without having to take resources away for questions or requests that are not found online or on phone prerecorded messages. This allows the county to better serve someone in-person or with a different kind of phone/email request. Regardless of where we live in the county, we all pay sales tax and real estate taxes, we all contribute and pay for these services. For that reason, I believe there are limits to automation and we should always have someone in the county available by phone, in-person, and email to communicate with constituents as opposed to automation only. If you've ever been on the phone with a utility or financial institution, it is incredibly frustrating to be trapped in a never-ending automation loop. As technology advances and adapts so should the county.