County Watchdog Kaczmarek Running for DuPage County Clerk

Jean Kaczmarek promotes returning electoral process to County Clerk’s Office.

Jean Kaczmarek
Jean Kaczmarek

SOURCE: Jean Kaczmarek

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in Illinois, good-government advocate Jean Kaczmarek is pleased to announce her candidacy for DuPage County Clerk in the 2014 election.

Kaczmarek, a 25-year Glen Ellyn resident and first-time candidate, filed campaign paperwork today as a Democrat for the open seat at the same government agency she has voluntarily scrutinized closely for nine years – the DuPage County Election Commission.

“For years, I have been calling for returning the Election Commission back to the County Clerk’s office,” said Kaczmarek, who regularly attends the Commission’s board meetings.

DuPage County has the only countywide electoral board in Illinois that is independent of the County Clerk’s office. 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 with the County with one significant exception — its funding. The 2014 budget for the Election Commission is $4,211,582.00.

“If you ask any county clerk outside of DuPage what their number one responsibility is, he or she most definitely would say ‘administering the electoral process’”, Kaczmarek 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 says the return of the Election Commission to the Clerk’s office aligns with the 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 Assembly passed legislation forming a separate Election Commission from the Lake County Clerk’s office — the action that would reportedly cost that county another $500,000 annually. A lawsuit and a 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 a referendum.

Despite reports to the contrary, the formation of the DuPage County Election Commission had also never gone to a referendum. The Daily Herald recently published that the cost of running elections in DuPage County is 41 percent higher than Lake County; DuPage’s population is 917,000, Lake’s is 703,000.

During her campaign, 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 non-profit communications. From 2005 to 2012, she was the unpaid co-chair of the DuPage Chapter of Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, a non-partisan organization which promotes a transparent, accountable, honest, fair and accessible electoral process. She has been an active in community service for over 15 years. Jean Kaczmarek is married and has two children in college.

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