Winfield Township trustee candidate: Mary Ann Manna
All six Republican candidates running to fill the four open trustee positions on the Winfield Township board this election cycle attended a forum last week to answer questions about why residents should vote for them.
My name is Mary Ann Manna. I’ve been a 20-year resident of the High Lake area in unincorporated Winfield Township. My husband and I have been married for 20 years and we have two adorable Boxers, no kids. Since I left corporate America in the early 2000s, I wanted to get involved in my community because I had the time to do it. And that’s when I got into the Chamber of Commerce. I’ve been on the Chamber of Commerce board for 10 years; I’ve been off for probably two or three years now. I’m involved in the Lyons Club in West Chicago. I’ve been involved in the Rotary Club of West Chicago as both their president and treasurer. I’ve also served our township on the West Chicago Mosquito Abatement Board since 2005 … I’ve also been on the High Lake Homeowner’s Board for 17 years and just got off that board a couple of years ago, but I wanted to get involved in my community. I can’t run for alderman because I’m in unincorporated (territory). I wanted to run for trustee because I wanted to oversee and make sure our monies are being spent efficiently and effectively and that’s why I’m here. I’m proud to say that I have been elected twice now -- 2009 and 2013, and look forward to getting your vote this time around.
Q: Have you been at township board meetings, and what do you think the current issues are?
As for my record: I’ve been a trustee for eight years and I can probably count maybe three meetings that I have missed in that time. As for ongoing issues … all the costs are rising everywhere, and we are trying to maintain a high level of service to our residents. So keeping the costs in check and using our funds as most efficiently as we can is top priority.
Q: Do you support township government in its current form? If not, how should it change?
I’m happy with the way township government is right now. Do you really want somebody from DuPage County (who) doesn’t know your area assessing your property? We are very fortunate to be in township government where we’ve got somebody local, where we can walk in the office or make a phone call, and Mark knows about our property, he knows about all of our areas. And to lose that focus on something so important as what taxes we pay just confounds me. So that’s just one aspect of township government, we could talk for hours about how valuable this township is to the constituents in its areas.
Q: Do you or will you always vote the party line, or would you break from the majority and vote against something?
As Republicans, we are fiscal conservatives. So in that realm, yes, I may be party line. But every issue that comes before the board, you have to vote on its merits. You’ve got to do the investigation, you’ve got to lay it out: ‘These are our pros; these are our cons.’ That’s what we do every month, and I will continue to do that. And we vote yes or no.
Q: Would you reduce or eliminate any services that the township currently provides?
Our goal is to provide services, not cut them. Our goal is to provide as many services to our community within our means. That’s my goal. I will find any way to make that happen. I’m not looking to cut services -- yes, if there’s possibility of merging and making things better, but we’ve taken a look at things and I think we’re doing a very good job of what we’re doing.
Q: The Daily Herald newspaper stated many townships are spending more on salaries for staff to administrate programs for the poor than they are giving out to the poor. How much does this township spend on the staff and how much money is given to the poor annually?
I don’t have those numbers right now, but if (the administrator) is only getting paid $69,000 I can assure we are multiple times paying, in benefits, above that salary. I mean, we’ve got people that can’t go to the county, they come to us for emergency fuel assistance and housing assistance and, ‘Where can I go for medical help?’ We have a very productive general fund and staff that helps our community, and yes, I don’t have the exact number but I can tell you we pay our way more than $69,000 in the general assistance fund.
Q: The DuPage County Election Commission estimated the cost of the primary to be $50,000, which would be borne by taxpayers. Did you vote to have a primary vs. a caucus?
No. I did vote for a caucus, but I do understand why … actually, it’s a good thing. We’ve got a lot of people involved; they wanted to have a primary. That’s fine. Now, I will say I’ve done my own research on what it would cost to do this primary, and I believe that’s a very inflated number because those costs are spread out between Wayne Township and Naperville Township, so it really is not going to cost $50,000. We won’t know until everything is done what the actual cost is, but I’m happy we’ve got this much interest. Yes, it would have been more cost-effective to do a caucus, but we’ve got a lot of interest and I’m happy to see that.
Q: Why is the township road district separate?
I know it was kind of that way when I got in. They do have their own budget, and they do maintain 45 miles of roads and take care of the ploughing, the brush pickup and trimming the trees in the unincorporated areas to keep those areas safe. So we do pass a levy for both the township and the road district. So I don’t see why those should be combined.
Q: Do you believe in term limits for township elected officials?
I do believe in term limits, although I think it would have to be different for different positions. Once you get a road commissioner in there it takes time to get things done, same thing with the township supervisor. So those term limits, I think, would be longer. And this would be a discussion, and a vote would have to be taken, I’m sure, to put these limits in place. So, in a short answer: yes.
Q: How long have you been active, specifically with the Winfield Township board? Why run now?
I’ve been a precinct committeeman since about 2006. I served the township as an elected official since 2009. Now you notice we’ve got a lot of new faces today, and I’m running again because you want consistency. You may have some new faces on the board but you want to have someone who’s been there before who can guide people, and that’s what I look forward to doing in the future.