How DuPage County Board candidates would approach overdose crisis, bipartisanship
Democrats and Republicans are heading for the homestretch in competitive primaries for District 4 seats on the DuPage County Board.
In the GOP nominating contest, incumbent Grant Eckhoff, Annette Corrigan, Reid Foltyniewicz and Paula McGowen are vying for the party's nod.
Incumbents Lynn LaPlante and Mary Ozog are joined by two challengers, Gary Fasules and Shawn Ryan, in the Democratic primary.
The top three vote-getters in each race will advance to the November election. The district covers all or parts of Glen Ellyn, Lombard and Wheaton. Here's a look at the candidates:
Eckhoff has positioned himself as a staunch fiscal conservative. The Wheaton attorney was first elected to the board in 2002.
During a recent interview with the Daily Herald Editorial Board, Eckhoff said he would revisit a proposal to confront an escalating overdose crisis by encouraging "all the hospitals in DuPage County to dedicate at least three beds" for long-term treatment.
Fatal overdoses increased by 5% last year.
Corrigan is a College of DuPage trustee and a family law attorney. Her term on the COD board doesn't expire until 2025.
Corrigan has floated the idea of an "amnesty program" in which the sheriff's office would link residents with addiction treatment.
"They can bring their drugs in, drop them off at the sheriff's department, and then from there, the sheriff's department would act as a mentor or a resource to get them to the proper organizations or providers that they need for rehabilitation," Corrigan said.
Foltyniewicz, an Oak Brook police sergeant and former village of Lombard trustee, has emphasized his law-and-order pedigree. He's chiefly concerned with violent crime and fiscal issues.
"We need to reduce spending and keep taxes low, and when we can lower taxes, we need to do that," Foltyniewicz said.
McGowen challenged that position on taxes.
"I can't promise you that I want to lower your taxes. I cannot lower your taxes," she said. "Employees want higher wages. So how are you going to stop taxes from going up?"
She envisions a long-term addiction treatment center at the county complex in Wheaton.
"I don't think any town wants it," said McGowen, citing the controversy over Haymarket Center's bid to open a 240-bed rehab facility in Itasca.
"Right there at the county level is the best place."
McGowen has run for a county board seat twice before. She currently sits on the regional board of school trustees.
LaPlante sees the creation of last month's DuPage Community Arts Festival as one of her signature accomplishments.
"I'm particularly passionate about developing the arts in DuPage County in order to provide cultural enrichment and help drive economic development," said LaPlante, a violist with the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.
She briefly flirted with running for county board chair in part because of "a real deficit of leadership on the board and in our party." Instead, LaPlante is seeking reelection to the board seat she's held for the last two years.
"I think it is now crystal clear to voters that the same people have been at the root of this issue since before I took my seat on the board," LaPlante said of Democratic infighting. "I've kept my campaign promise to reach across the aisle and work in a bipartisan fashion in order to best serve the constituents of District 4."
Ozog captured her seat when Democratic women made unprecedented gains in DuPage four years ago.
A former Glenbard District 87 school board member and transportation planner, Ozog now chairs the county's public works and public transit committees. She noted the county just approved a $50,000 grant for a study of a "transit desert" in an unincorporated area of Willowbrook.
"You do the study first and then hopefully implement some elements where people would have an easier opportunity to get to jobs," Ozog said.
If elected, Fasules, a sitting Glen Ellyn trustee, would encourage affordable housing projects by giving grants to municipalities.
"The second thing that I would look at is supportive housing. We have one of the best care centers in the country," Fasules said at a League of Women Voters event. "And I would love to expand that mission and possibly even the facility to include supportive housing."
Fasules said he would bridge the partisan divide with a culture of mutual respect.
"It takes multiple members to get policy passed and moved, so unless there's a dialogue, you can't have that consensus building," Fasules said. "Unless there's respect, you can't have it at all."
Ryan is a retired teacher and semiretired football coach.
"I think that a lot of the skills that I have from previous employers translate well into a position on the board. I'm very interested in helping out and helping ... move the ball down the field in a progressive fashion."
Ryan said Democrats need to present a united front.
"In order to be successful, especially in today's environment, we have to pull together on the same rope in the same direction," he said. "Otherwise, you're really fighting an uphill battle against two opponents instead of one, and we just simply can't have that."