Lynn LaPlante: 2022 candidate for DuPage County Board District 4

  • Lynn LaPlante

    Lynn LaPlante

 
Updated 10/13/2022 10:50 AM

Bio

Party: Democratic

 

Office sought:

City: Glen Ellyn

Age: 51

Occupation: Violinist and violist

Previous offices held: DuPage County Board member since 2020; and four-term elected Milton Township Precinct Committeeperson

Q&A

Q: Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming in the future and how the county should deal with them.

A: DuPage County is in a very positive financial situation, thanks to receiving the federal ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds. We have approximately $100 million in reserves, $7M in contingency funds and this year we have a surplus of $40 million.

Our job as board members is to invest in DuPage County by spending and managing these funds for the greatest benefit of all residents. As chair of the Community Development Committee, we voted to fund $5 million toward DuPage County's first permanent homeless shelter in partnership with PADS. That initiative went on to be passed by the full board in a bipartisan, unanimous vote. And as chair of the Ad Hoc Fine Arts Committee, we also invested in the arts -- one of the hardest hit sectors by COVID. I have always said our budget is a moral document: look at what we invest in and you'll see what we truly prioritize.

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I believe in funding new programs that breathe new life into our county.

Q: Is there a specific service or amenity that is lacking in the county? If so, how do you propose to provide and fund it?

A: I can think of two specific areas in which we are lacking -- and I have already started working on remedying both!

The first is the fact that we had no line item in our budget of nearly half a billion dollars set aside for the arts in DuPage County. The arts drive economic development, help promote a thriving community and provide a high quality of life -- all things DuPage County is known for.

Thanks to my arts initiative, we are now funding and highlighting the arts, with a big vision to potentially build a new fine arts facility worthy of a county of our size and resources.

The second is an insulin bank. As the mom of a child with Type 1 diabetes, I know all too well the struggles families face trying to afford their insulin and costly medical supplies in order to manage this life-threatening disease. Until insulin is affordable for all, we can help our community members by having an insulin bank to turn to, so no one ever has to ration this lifesaving drug.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Q: Should the county board continue to start its regular board meetings with an invocation? Please say why or why not.

A: I enjoy our invocations that start all our county board meetings. I see all different faiths and backgrounds giving these invocations, and I very much enjoy hearing these meditative words before we begin.

I use that time to breathe deeply, think of the work we have ahead of ourselves, and how we are all working together toward one goal of serving the people of DuPage.

At one meeting this year, the person slated to give the invocation was running late, so Chairman Cronin asked me to give the invocation -- with about 30 seconds notice!

I improvised and spoke from my heart. It wasn't perfect but it was a genuine reflection on the job we are tasked with as board members, and how we all need to work together and see each other as neighbors. That experience is one of my favorite memories from my first term, and I am so appreciative for that opportunity to speak before my colleagues in such a manner.

Q: Does there need to be more bipartisanship and cooperation on the county board? If yes, what would you do to help make that happen?

A: Yes, absolutely and unequivocally. When I ran for office, I promised I would do my best to make things less partisan at the local level -- for I believe if we can't make it work here, then we are doomed at the national and federal level.

I am very proud to say I have kept that campaign promise. I have reached across the aisle since day one, and I think a big part of the reason I have been able to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time is due to the spirit of bipartisan cooperation with which I engage.

I see no room or reason for fighting, bullying, or being antagonistic toward fellow board members -- it simply does not serve the highest good. My colleagues across the aisle have been receptive to this approach and have been easy to work with.

I am proud of the level of professionalism I bring to the board and I am proud of the way I have comported myself in meetings, even under trying circumstances. I will continue to lead in this same manner going forward.

Q: If your political party has control of the county board after the November election, how would that benefit DuPage residents?

A: My leadership role on the county board will not alter even if there is a change in who holds the majority. I will be the same person then as I am now.

I will continue to work very hard for the people of DuPage County. I will continue to reach across the aisle, collaborate with colleagues, keep my head down and do the work I was elected to do. I would estimate that 90% of what we do is nonpartisan in nature, which makes it easy regardless of which party holds the majority. My initiatives that have been successful in my first term required broad, supermajority, bipartisan support, and I was able to achieve that.

I am absolutely comfortable picking up the phone and calling my colleagues to discuss initiatives and asking for their vote or support, regardless of party affiliation, as it should be. I know for sure how unhappy and frustrated I am with the level of discord and division happening in our country right now, so I am doing my absolute best to change things at the local level.

Q: The COVID pandemic put a spotlight on the need for mental health services. What role should the county play in this?

A: I was recently appointed to the DuPage County Board of Health, and I could not be more excited. I have also served on the Health Equity and Access Response Team (HEART) my first term, which focuses on reaching underserved communities. I love this approach to public health and think it's a wonderful model for serving constituents' needs for mental health issues.

I am passionate about public health and its power to impact the lives of so many people in deeply profound ways. DuPage County has a wonderfully staffed health department that is leading the way in treating and destigmatizing mental health issues. COVID laid bare our struggles with mental health and accessing treatment equitably, and the county should continue to take the lead here.

Q: What is the single most important issue facing your district and how should the county address it?

A: COVID recovery is still the number one concern in our district. We have come so far and are in a much better place, but make no mistake, COVID is still here.

Local businesses are still recovering, and supply chain issues continue to have a major negative impact. It's important we listen to the needs in our communities, make assessments and pivot to address needs in real time. Those needs are ever changing, and the targets keep moving, so we need to be great listeners, and address the actual needs of our constituents. The wonderful news is that DuPage County is well-staffed by committed civil servants with vast institutional knowledge and a passion for their work. We are also well-resourced and well-managed, and we have the funds available to provide assistance and relief where and when it is necessary.

The role of the county board is a fiscal one, as we are not a legislative body. We are equipped with the correct tools to aid in COVID recovery and come back even better than before.

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