Lynn LaPlante: Candidate profile, DuPage County Board District 4

From the Daily Herald, September 29, 2020

In the Nov. 3 general election, Democrat Lynn LaPlante of Glen Ellyn is challenging incumbent Republican Tim Elliott of Glen Ellyn to win the seat representing District 4 on the DuPage County Board.

LaPlante, a principal violist with Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, has served three terms as a Milton Township precinct committeewoman. She is the founder and president of Glen Ellyn Women Leaders.

District 4 includes all or portions of Addison, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Downers Grove, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, Lisle, Lombard, Wheaton and Winfield.

The Daily Herald asked the candidates to answer a series of questions. Here are LaPlante’s replies.

Q: What have we learned as a county from the COVID-19 pandemic and what changes should be made looking forward as a result?

A: I believe we are still in the process of learning about the COVID-19 pandemic. There is so much we don’t know about this virus, including the long-term effects and the phenomenon of many so-called “long-haulers,” who still feel the effects of the illness long after it has supposedly run its course.

Looking forward, we need to have a cohesive plan in place for testing and tracing. We need to have faster testing results so we can stop the spread of this virus. We need a stockpile of PPE ready and available for all who need it. We have to look out for our high-risk community members and take care of our most vulnerable, especially those deemed essential workers. We need a plan for a safe return to work, and a safe return to school and sports and all the activities that help students thrive.

But most of all, we need proper leadership. Our president and his enablers have failed us in the most spectacular way possible. We have to make sure every vote that is cast, is cast for a candidate who prioritizes public health and safety and will ensure this type of mismanagement never happens again.

Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?

A: By running for local office, I am practicing what my hero President Jimmy Carter preaches: to be of service to others. I am already serving my community in my third term as an elected precinct committeeperson, and as an extremely active volunteer in many local organizations and charities. I would bring this same passion for public service to the county board.

I want to change the narrative that politics is dirty. That it’s only for those who are independently wealthy and can self-fund their campaign.

My opponent spent $127,000 on his race for this seat in 2016, essentially buying his way onto the county board. We don’t need that kind of money in our local elections. My opponent wants four more years of Trump, and he wants to send Jeanne Ives to Congress. Our community does not endorse such extreme views held by these politicians.

The majority of voters want honesty, ethics, morals and values — both in our political system and in our elected officials. My motivating factor to serve is right under my roof, in my own family: my son was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I will work tirelessly to ensure everyone in DuPage County can afford lifesaving insulin.

Q: 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?

A: I was selected to the Illinois Women’s Institute of Leadership’s Class of 2020, the only woman from DuPage County to be selected for this honor in nearly a decade. This intense program focuses on preparing proven Democratic women leaders for roles in public service. I will bring this very specific skillset with me to the county board and put this experience to practice immediately. We are in the midst of unprecedented times, between the pandemic, the looming financial crisis, and the quest for racial justice with the Black Lives Matter movement. Our country is crying out for change, reform, and justice. We can’t go back to business as usual. We can’t keep electing the same type of person to office and expect different results.

True change begins with the ballot. We have to vote for candidates who will bring change, like me. I will fight for a safe return to work for the citizens of DuPage County. I will insist upon fiscal responsibility with your tax dollars. I will champion effective solutions to combat climate change at the local level. I will be an example for transparency and honesty in all aspects of county board business.

Q: Describe your position regarding the allocation of resources in the recorder of deeds’ office. Are personnel allocated as they should be? Are there capital expense or other budgetary items that the office must address, and, if so, how do you propose to address them?

A: My position is that the voters should have been given the chance to vote on this issue, but the county board voted to remove the binding referendum question from the ballot, effectively muzzling our voters’ voices.

In addition, the three questions they voted to place on the ballot instead were absolutely ridiculous, such as “determining whether to maintain sufficient supplies for nursing homes and other agencies during a pandemic.” From an editorial in this very newspaper: “These three questions strain even the standard of pretending to want voters’ advice.” As the Daily Herald said, it really should lead voters to question the motives of board members — such as my opponent — who “filled the ballot with three banal questions, raising cynical questions about what really is going on.” That is a great question to ask of my opponent: What really is going on here? And I encourage all voters to ask it before filling out their ballot.

Q: Name one concrete program you’ll create or personnel move you’ll make to improve efficiency in the office or make it more successful. Explain how it will be funded and how you will overcome any obstacles to initiating it.

A: I have recently joined the Legislative Team for the Type 1 diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in order to speak to members of Congress about the need to treat and ultimately cure Type 1 diabetes. Oftentimes, insulin is too expensive for people to afford it. Absolutely no one should suffer or die because they cannot afford insulin — or any other lifesaving medication — particularly as we all navigate the public health and economic toll of COVID-19.

This effort can be funded by reallocating funds from the nearly $161 million federal relief money in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. My opponent thought a good use of this money was to allocate $1 million on advertising for tourism promotion. I do not believe now, in the midst of a pandemic, is the time to try and attract out-of-state visitors. Instead, I think a more appropriate use of those advertising dollars would be to ensure there is access to insulin for all who need it in DuPage County.

We need to ensure a safety net during the COVID-19 health crisis for those who are underinsured, uninsured, or have very high-deductible health plans. These funds from the CARES Act could be used to do just that.

Q: Describe your position on transparency in the office and the ease of access to records by the public. If you believe improvements are needed, what are they and how would you go about achieving them?

A: The lack of transparency with which the county board conducts business is hurting the taxpayers of DuPage County. Vendors are often awarded contracts based on campaign contributions, resulting in a toxic pay-to-play atmosphere.

For example, my opponent recently accepted a sizable donation from Bucks Inc., the corporation behind Bucky’s Gas Stations. My opponent has been very involved in controversial development deals with Bucky’s, ignoring the very vocal objections from his constituents. And he did not disclose his financial relationship with them, showing a shocking lack of fiscal transparency.

The county board needs strict vendor disclosure requirements and to impose restrictions on campaign donations. Companies would be required to complete disclosure forms detailing campaign contributions. Elected officials must disclose any consulting work they do on behalf of these businesses and recuse themselves from voting if necessary. All of these disclosure statements should be made available for all constituents to see.

This simply has to be the new, truly transparent way of doing business in DuPage County from now on. The old type of pay-to-play corruption must stop.

Read more from the Daily Herald here.

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This post was written by Help Lynn Win

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