Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

Will County Board District 5 {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Click a candidate icon to find more information about the candidate. To compare two candidates, click the "compare" button. To start over, click a candidate icon.

  • Darren Bennefield
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Gretchen Fritz
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Mazyar M. Hedayat
    (Dem)

  • Meta Mueller
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

With an annual budget of over $551 million; what budget changes would you recommend for Will County to make sure taxpayer dollars are well spent?

What will you do to expand mental health services in Will County?

In 2017, 117 Will County residents died from opioid overdose. The Illinois Opioid Action Plan aims to reduce such deaths by 33% in three years. How can Will County meet this goal and increase addiction services to help Will County residents, especially our youth?

How has climate change impacted our Forest Preserves, and what should the Board do in response?

Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Campaign Phone (815) 741-3474
The Will County Board does not micromanage departments. When a budget request is presented to the Board, we determine if it falls within the overall anticipated budget. If it does not, the budget will be returned to the department so it can make its own decisions on how to adjust it appropriately.
The Health Department determines its needs for the next fiscal year then submits it in budget form for review by the County Board. While I personally would support an increase in mental health services, the County Board does not micromanage individual departments. We determine if the proposed budget is within the overall budget anticipated. The Health Department also actively seeks out grant funding for specific programs, including mental health programs.
Every year Will County holds a HERO Helps Community Summit that explores possible solutions and educates attendees about initiatives related to the opioid crisis. Recently Dr. Kathleen Burke, Director of Substance Use Initiatives for Will County, informed the County Board that a few Will County municipal police departments sponsor Safe Passage programs, which allow drug users to seek help at the police department without facing criminal charges. I would like to see all of our municipal police departments sponsor these programs.
In my three years and ten months as a Commissioner for the Forest Preserve District of Will County, the staff has not presented any information to us about the effects of climate change on our forest preserves.
As a lifelong private citizen, I can clearly see that County government needs to put its money where its mouth is. That means prioritizing the basics:

Infrastructure: Not just roads and bridges, but advanced telecommunications and connectivity (wired and wireless). 5G and beyond.

Education: Even the best infrastructure fails unless we educate the next generation. Strengthen K-12 education, then expand it by examining innovative practices such as subsidized trade and community-colleges, distance learning, and more.

Healthcare: The County has a Constitutional mandate here. It must be respectful of the needs of citizens. This includes not only low-cost, high-quality healthcare for all, but free and fair access to reproductive care. Narrow-minded partisan beliefs do not belong at the patient's bedside.

Jobs: The crowning achievement of government is to create a climate in which citizens can make a good living close to home. Make Will County attractive to employers as well as consumers.
State and County facilities have been ravaged in recent years due to the misguided actions of Republicans at every level of government. The putative "reduction" in mental-health patients has only been a bonanza for the private-prison industry. So, to "expand" care in Illinois we must turn the tide. First, restore funding stripped away in the last few years. Second, seek allies among the private and public sectors to showcase a different model of care. Third, let's move beyond the legacy of "Big Healthcare" by prioritizing smaller, more nimble, more efficient facilities that don't just warehouse patients. Fourth, let's reward alternative therapies and innovative approaches that show results. Finally, Will County should lead the way by insisting on transparency from all participants. How will we measure success? Not just by savings, but by moving more people back into their communities. Other countries do it. So can we.
The answer is not what you're thinking. It's not just about money. What's missing in our system is also transparency and accountability. Federal, State, and County government must adhere to a common-sense 3-step plan:

(1) Restore services that were shut down or starved of funding by the Federal (Trump) or State (Rauner) government; (2) Ensure continued funding by statute, but make recipients (including the County) commit to total transparency; and (3) Let Dr.'s make health-care decisions, put auditing in the hands of the State, and let the County exercise oversight.

This year IDHS will be receiving $29 million from the Federal government, to add to the $30 million it got already. However, if that funding ends up being misallocated or wasted, it becomes part of the problem. As a County, we need to get behind the move towards system-wide improvement. In fact, I believe we can not only support such a move, but spearhead the change right here and show the rest of Illinois how it's done.
Climate change is a fact, not a theory. Republicans who pretend to be scientific "sceptics" are really just clearing the way for donors to pollute and profit. But, since the Forest Preserve Board is essentially the County Board, there are things that can be done. Here are a few.

First, since the EPA will no longer enforce environmental laws, Will County and its municipalities should pass and enforce ordinances that include an environmental impact assessment of each potential polluter (at it's expense).

Second, the Board should work with municipalities to ensure that if a new or existing entity wants to do business here its environmental footprint is as critical as the number of jobs it will create, or its affect on the tax base.

Third, we must tax polluters and apply those revenues exclusively to research and facilities that keep their operations environmentally neutral - if possible. If a zero-impact is not feasible, we as a County must be strong enough to "Just say no."
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.
Candidate has not yet responded.