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DuPage Co. board candidate forum isn't a big draw
By Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff

Wayne Township Republican Organization Chairman Ken Spitz moderated a candidate forum Wednesday at St. Andrews Golf Club in West Chicago as a primer to next week's primary.


Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

Carole Pankau


Gary Grasso


Dan Cronin


Debra Olson


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Published: 1/28/2010 12:01 AM | Updated: 1/28/2010 8:17 AM

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Only half of the Republican field vying for the DuPage County Board chairman's seat attended Wednesday's candidate forum in West Chicago.

While the Wayne Township Republican Organization event was sparsely attended by GOP candidates and their supporters, the audience was even more sparse. Candidates and their respective entourages outnumbered the fewer than 40 people who attended the event.

The forum was intended to be a last opportunity for GOP chairman candidates to debate before Tuesday's primary, but only state Sen. Carole Pankau and Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso attended. State Sen. Dan Cronin and county board member Debra Olson did not appear at the forum.

Cronin told organizers the event conflicted with a fundraiser and a family commitment when he received the invitation less than two weeks ago. Olson said she told township party Chairman Ken Spitz she would try to attend the forum, but had a prior commitment.

Both Grasso and Pankau told the audience they would look at ways to reduce spending if elected to the office.

"The reality is going to be for DuPage County that we are going to have less to work with," Grasso said. "I'd look at reducing costs through head count, which can be done through attrition and retirement."

Pankau suggested reviewing county programs to determine which ones are achieving goals and getting results for the money spent on them.

"The big building days in DuPage County are over, and we have to stretch every tax dollar to its maximum extent," she said. "The problem is that government never measures itself to see what works and what doesn't."

The line of questioning ranged from budget reform and the DuPage Water Commission's woes to better fiscal management and implementing line-item veto power for the chairman, which mirrored topics of a news conference Cronin recently held.

Cronin said he wants to work with township and municipal leaders to look into consolidation services in an effort to cut costs at all levels of government.

"Perhaps sharing road maintenance responsibilities or the delivery of human services," he said. "We should be looking at a program and determining if it's accomplishing the goals it's intended to meet."

Two of the three Republican District 6 county board candidates - Bob Larsen and Matt Fuesting - also attended the forum.

The third, Paul Darrah, said he had to stay home with his sick son after a baby sitter also became ill.

Other GOP candidates who attended include lieutenant governor candidates Jason Plummer and Don Tracy; comptroller hopeful Jim Dodge; 14th Congressional District candidate Randy Hultgren; DuPage circuit court judge candidate Ronald Sutter; DuPage Forest Preserve President Dewey Pierotti; and District 6 forest preserve commission incumbent Roger Kotecki and challenger Al Murphy.