Source: Jean Kaczmarek
Jean Kaczmarek, a 25-year resident of Glen Ellyn, announced her candidacy for DuPage County Clerk.
The first-time candidate filed campaign paperwork on Monday at the DuPage County Election Commission, an office she has scrutinized for nine years.
“For years, I have been calling for returning the Election Commission back to the County Clerk’s office,” said Kaczmarek, who regularly attends Election Commission meetings.
DuPage County has the only county-wide electoral board in Illinois that is independent of the county clerk’s office, Kaczmarek said. A separate Election Commission was created 40 years ago by an ordinance passed by the County Board. Ten weeks after the vote, the Election Commission was formally disconnected from the county with one significant exception—its funding. The 2014 budget for the Election Commission is $4,211,582, she said.
“If you ask any county clerk outside of DuPage what their No. 1 responsibility is, he or she most definitely would say ‘administering the electoral process,' " Kaczmarek, a Democrat, said. “The positions of clerk and deputy clerk are paid far better in DuPage than any other county in Illinois—collectively $300,000 in salary and stipends, plus full benefits—yet they have the least amount of responsibility. We’re not getting our money’s worth.”
Kaczmarek said the return of the Election Commission to the Clerk’s office aligns with DuPage County’s ACT initiative—accountability, consolidation and transparency—which was introduced in 2012.
“I had hoped that the Commission would have been consolidated with the county by now,” she said. “It simply makes good fiscal sense.”
In 2013, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation forming a separate Election Commission from the Lake County Clerk’s office, an action that would reportedly cost that county an additional $500,000 annually. A lawsuit and widely publicized backlash by Lake County officials followed. Last month, a judge found the law unconstitutional, and the Illinois House passed legislation to rescind it. Part of the argument against the split was that the matter had never gone to citizens for a vote, Kaczmarek said.
Despite reports to the contrary, the formation of the DuPage County Election Commission had also never gone to a referendum, she said. The Daily Herald recently published that the cost of running elections in DuPage County is 41 percent higher than Lake County; DuPage population is 917,000, Lake is 703,000.
If elected, Kaczmarek will also address transparency issues at the clerk’s office, ethics, unnecessary stipends and double- and triple-dipping pension sweeteners of the County Clerk for serving on various government boards, and the high salaries of the executive staff in both the clerk’s office and the Election Commission.
Kaczmarek, 56, has a general studies degree from Western Illinois University. She has worked in corporate and nonprofit communications. From 2005 to 2012, she was the unpaid co-chairman of the DuPage Chapter of Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, a nonpartisan organization that promotes a transparent, accountable, honest, fair and accessible electoral process. She has been an active in community service for more than 15 years. Kaczmarek is married and has two children in college.