What is your official title and how long have you been in your current position?
I have served as the Commissioner on the Lake County Board (which also includes serving on the Forest Preserve Board) since December 2012. I also serve as the Chairwoman of the Lake County Board after being appointed by my colleagues in December 2018.
Can you please tell us a little about you and your background?
I have been married to Tom (who grew up in Lake Bluff) for 21 years!! We have three children (Emily, Katie, and Tommy); the girls are at LFHS and Tommy is at Lake Bluff Middle School.
I have a BA in Marketing from Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and an MBA in Marketing and Organizational Development from DePaul University.
After working for several years at Kraft Foods, I decided to stay home to raise my kids and I was able to do more volunteer work, like serving on the Lake Bluff Park District Board (2006-2012) and chairing the referendum for the new elementary school.
My hobbies are… hanging out with friends and family; pulling weeds out of our native prairie garden (which I love!!); bird watching; reading; and walking my dogs.
Why did you decide to run for office?
I believe very strongly in how a caring and connected community improves our quality of life, and how important it is for everyone to be involved in making Lake Bluff (and Lake County) a great place to live. I wanted to be involved in my children’s preschool so it made sense to run for the Park District Board.
As my kids got older, we ventured into our Forest Preserves and bike paths, and so I decided to run for the Lake County Board.
I love public service. I love being able to help someone with a problem, be it a stormwater issue, questions about assessments, zoning, etc. I love understanding why things work the way they do and seeing if we can find a more efficient, cost effective way to deliver services to residents.
Can you tell us something about your time in office?
It is extremely rewarding and also challenging! Issues that on the surface may seem simple are often quite complicated. I learn something new every single day, from my colleagues, residents, or the very talented people who work in Lake County Government or the Forest Preserves. I also love that every day is different. I can be walking through a ditch in someone’s yard to see their issue with flooding; take a tour of a health clinic; get briefed on a plan for a Forest Preserve; and meet with a non-profit regarding veteran services, all in one day. I feel extremely fortunate to do a job that I love. Even when dealing with complex problems on an evening or over the weekend, I really love it.
Has anything surprised you about your experience?
Two things surprised me the most. One is how much both entities, the Forest Preserve and LC Government, relies on volunteers. On the Lake County Board, we appoint over three hundred volunteers to positions across Lake County, from drainage districts to the Board of Health. Without these dedicated people, we wouldn’t be able to achieve what we do. At the Forest Preserves, our volunteers help us remove invasive species; teach children about nature; and collect seeds for restoration projects.
The other thing that surprised me is how slow some things must move. We want to consolidate and eliminate some taxing districts, and it is shocking how long that can take. As a result, we are looking into legislation to speed up the process.
Which issues are you most focused on at this time?
I am primarily focused on helping people who live with serious mental illness. We are working toward a Wellness Triage Center to give people in crisis a safe place to go for help. Often times, when law enforcement gets involved, they end up in jail or in the emergency room. We can follow national best practices and give an alternative that provides them with the care they deserve.
I am also focused on opportunities to reduce the number of taxing bodies through consolidation and dissolution, and how we can share services, both internally and with other governmental entities, to reduce costs.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for Lake County going forward?
We need to work on reducing the number of taxing bodies, and therefore property taxes, and helping people and communities with stormwater management issues.
Would you like to share a favorite local hangout or activity?
I have three favorite hangouts: uptown Lake Bluff; the beach, and wherever my friends and family are!
Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
I would love readers to know how rewarding it is to do work that makes a difference in people’s lives. Please consider running, for office or helping a candidate who shares your values. I have yet to meet a single person who hasn’t thoroughly enjoyed giving back to their community. It’s a great way to meet dedicated people who want to make our town and county a great place to live and work.
Thank you Sandy for taking the time to share your experience and thoughts!