Deborah Barry of Deer Park is the Democratic challenger to District 19 incumbent Craig Taylor.
Barry is the owner of an ad agency. She has served on the Deer Park Zoning Board of Appeals and Tourism and Economic Development. She also served on the Highland Park Design Review Commission.
What are your top 3 priorities if elected to the Lake County Board?
- Reversing the trend of aging in Lake County. The explosion of our 65+ population and loss of family-aged population challenge our sense of place, our tax revenues, the future of our schools and our multi-generational tradition.
- End the focus on retail development to concentrate on making Lake County desirable and affordable for families—quality music, fine art and performing art entertainment options for children, teens, families; improve pedestrian and bike lanes on surface streets; create apps triggered by location devices on smartphones to make the experience of the Forest Preserves interactive and educational.
- Identify new sources of revenue that are not regressive and do not increase the property tax burdens. Tourism, sustaining owner/operator shops and attracting mid-sized business are just some ideas we can implement immediately.
What would you do to help unemployed people throughout the county?
- The county must become fully engaged in social media; this is where many job seekers look first, so multiple, updated outlets on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are easy—and virtually free.
- Study whether outside consultants, experts in the fields of business retention and attraction, can do a better job than can officials and staff. I hope this might reduce the perception of cronyism in Lake County, as well
- Extend partnerships and programming between Lake County College and national and regional businesses, to ensure that job training in college is appropriate to current needs and that our partners are incentivized to “Hire Lake County First.”
Where do you stand on Route 53? If in favor, what can be done to help facilitate the extension into Lake County? If against, what can be done to help relieve traffic congestion?
I am absolutely opposed to extending Route 53 as a tolled, 45 MPH road. We need to invest in local and regional transportation, including hop-on, hop-off busses that circulate among train stations, bus stations, hospitals, schools and shops. We should also synchronize speed limits on all county roads; consistent, sensible speed limits—and strictly enforce all traffic ordinances currently waived by unwilling traffic court judges—as well as use public safety officers and CERT volunteers to prevent blocked intersections during high volume traffic times (as they do in downtown Chicago). Finally, we should invest instead in improving our current roads (especially quality materials to reduce the endless re-dos) with safe, well-lit “rolling” lanes to accommodate wheelchairs, strollers, bikes, golf carts, etc.
How would you attract more business and economic development to the county?
Above all, we must make Lake County tech-friendly. I would begin with a partnership among fuel companies, energy companies, the county and corporate sponsors to create “Tech Kiosks” throughout Lake County. These would be located near major shopping areas to encourage transactions and would provide re-fueling for alternative fuel vehicles, re-charging stations for electric cars and digital devices and be part of a network of highly secure, FREE Wi-Fi.
We need to work with experts like Main Street USA (as does downtown Waukegan) and other national organizations that can bring new ideas and recent successes to the attention of Lake County. Politicians must get out of the business of development; they do not have the expertise and the opportunities for corruption are overwhelming.
Why should voters elect you? What sets you apart?
My opponent has had one job in his professional life; few of us in Lake County today can relate to that.
I have a diverse background: I’ve been a young wife with children and a single mother with a mortgage working two jobs with kids in college. I’ve worked part-time, full-time and side jobs in health care, publishing and advertising; I’ve been an employee facing lay-offs and an entrepreneur growing my own business. As a consultant, I’ve worked with small-and mid-sized business owners to compete with national brands.
For decades, I have been a community activist, working primarily to create partnerships among businesses, landowners and governments. I serve on the Deer Park ZBA, the Citizen Advisory Council of WBEZ, established a local knitting circle called “KnitUps,” and, through our community education group, Deer Park Neighbors, have helped residents and business throughout the area put their cases before their governments.
I don’t parade my children in my campaign—they are remarkable professionals in careers that demand privacy—but they keep me in touch with the pressures their generation faces: school loans, a constructed job market and tax that rob them and the next generation.