The Daily Herald published Ashley's candidate profile. See the full article here.
Questions & Answers
Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
I am running for DuPage County Board to bring accountability, transparency, and a new generation of leadership to our local government. Having grown up in DuPage County, I know there are fantastic opportunities in this county, but that opportunities in education, employment, and fairness only prosper if we protect them.
Transparency in board practices and decision making and access to local elected officials are two areas lacking in the current board leadership. Meetings are held during the work day, when many District 1 residents cannot attend and make their voices heard. Decisions about spending taxpayer funds are made with little public oversight. I will fight for easily accessible publication of recordings of committee meetings and I will communicate with residents of District 1 to solicit their advice and explain why I vote.
What is your stance on county board members' pay? Too high, too low, just right? Would you propose any changes?
I think board member pay is high, especially when you compare it to the county median income for annual wages ($50K-$80K). I will not support any increases to board member pay.
I will support changes to the health care benefits provided to board members. Board members should not be able to use county-paid health care benefits for themselves and their families as a way to avoid paying for these costs out of their wages from outside work or worse, from their privately owned businesses. Health care benefits should only be provided if there is demonstrated hardship and those requests should be approved by a panel of non-partisan officials within the county. Extra compensation paid to board members if they choose not to use the county's health care should also be eliminated.
I do think that paid political positions are important to increase the quality of candidates, allowing for residents who are not independently wealthy to serve their communities while still supporting their families. However, these wages must be reasonable.
With DuPage County's budget being squeezed by the state funding reductions, what initiatives would you support to increase revenue and/or save money?
Oversight of and renegotiation of expensive contracts and increased transparency is necessary to reduce costs and save our county money. The Republican-controlled county board has backed itself into a corner by ignoring the consequences of the State's budget crisis, which reduced funding to DuPage County, and will lead to a county budget deficit in the near future. Coupled with the new federal tax bill which limits State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions, increases in taxation at the local level could have a very negative impact on District 1 families and individuals. This delayed action and recklessness by the board must be addressed.
The DuPage County Election Commission should be made part of the county clerk's office. This consolidation has long been advocated for by DuPage County Democrats as a clear example of cost savings potential for many years.
The county board also spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbyists sent to Springfield, however, these lobbyists are duplicate positions and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Other county boards throughout Illinois either spend far less for fewer lobbyists or do not use them to lobby for the board exclusively. These significant costs savings would be a great first step.
What are your thoughts about the county's Accountability, Consolidation and Transparency Initiative? What role should DuPage play in efforts to streamline and consolidate local government?
I support the concept of the Accountability, Consolidation, and Transparency (ACT) Initiative, however, since this initiative began in 2011, not nearly enough action has taken place by the County Board. With the budget constraints imposed by Springfield, this delay in action demonstrates why the board needs new voices elected.
The county's projected savings of $121 million are important and needed but the results in the last few years have not met those projections. The accountability and transparency parts of this initiative are essential to making sure that consolidated units are actually saving money (this has not been the case in all examples) and that consolidation does not decrease services for residents in Illinois.
What initiatives, if any, do you have in mind for your specific county board district?
Residents of District 1 have discussed a need for better services for renters. Among these needs are better access to recycling. Increasing options for recycling services through District 1, including composting options help create healthy communities. The county board can be a centralized source of information about recycling services offered by the towns within the county.
Residents of District 1 also have concerns about flight path noise from O'Hare airport. Representation from local city and town governments from DuPage has been inadequate. The board members representing District 1 must make sure their constituents concerns are heard
I will make sure residents know how they can communicate their concerns to O'Hare flight path decision makers and ensure that health and quality of life concerns are adequately addressed.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Issues such as protecting the right to vote, services for young families and aging populations, and economic opportunity can and must be fought for by the county board. DuPage County is the second largest county in the state and can be an example of brave and innovative leadership in both our state and our country if we elect officials to be accountable and engaged with their residents.