Will County Board District 9 incumbents face challenge
By Susan DeMar lafferty email@example.com March 9, 2014 6:10PM
Lauren Staley-Ferry | Supplied photo
Updated: April 11, 2014 6:15AM
One of the few contested races in the March 18 primary election in Will County is in District 9 of the county board, where a political newcomer is trying to unseat one of two incumbents.
Lauren Staley-Ferry, 35, of Joliet, is running against board members Walter Adamic, 53, of Joliet, and Diane Zigrossi, 54, of Crest Hill, chairwoman of the board’s Democratic caucus.
Republican candidate Annette Parker, of Crest Hill, is unopposed in the GOP primary and will face the two winning Democrats in the November election.
The county board consists of 26 members, two representing each of 13 districts.
Staley-Ferry, the mother of a 4-year-old son and daughter-in-law of county board member Mark Ferry, D-Plainfield, said it’s “time for my generation to join with our parents in planning for the future of our communities.
“It is important for our leaders to be engaged with the communities they serve. Once elected, I will make every effort to actively seek the input of the people and address their concerns,” she said via email.
Her work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Habitat for Humanity has “given me a hunger to do more,” she said.
Like her opponents, Staley-Ferry wants to create jobs in Will County, improve county government facilities and keep the county seat in Joliet.
To improve the facilities, a long-term plan is needed to allocates resource and set time frames for completion, she said. She would not tax residents more but would have the county save and plan for building improvements, said Staley-Ferry, an eight-year employee of Capital One Financial. Staley-Ferry believes county offices and the courthouse should remain downtown in Joliet, the county seat, because relocating would be a “greater expense” than improving existing facilities, adding that new county buildings are key to the redevelopment of downtown Joliet.
Staley-Ferry said she plans to address the budget shortfall in the sheriff’s department without losing any personnel.
Another issue she will focus on is protecting jobs and creating new ones, including through major public projects as the South Suburban Airport and the Illiana Expressway, she said.
“I was really disappointed to see county workers forced to go on strike to support their families,” said Staley-Ferry, whose husband, Ed, is a union electrician for the city of Joliet.
Adamic and Zigrossi are running as a team and said they are fiscal conservatives who are “open and objective” in their decision-making and work to promote transparency in county government.
“We get things accomplished by working together and doing what is best for the greater good,” said Adamic, a 25-year member of the county board.
Born and raised in Joliet, he is married with one child.
Zigrossi, a retired banker, was elected to the county board in 2008 after serving on the school board in Lockport District 91 and the Lockport City Council.
“I got into public service years ago to give a voice to those who need it,” said the mother of five, who has championed the causes of seniors and the disabled.
As a member of the county’s paratransit committee, Zigrossi is working on a countywide transportation plan to help disabled people navigate their communities.
Countywide, a key issue is economic development and job creation, which “goes beyond getting jobs but also keeping jobs,” she said.
“We have to get out and promote Will County as the place to raise a family and do business. This is the crossroads of mid-America,” said Adamic, a property manager.
To promote business growth, he would like to see a new interchange at Interstate 55 and Weber Road and would offer tax abatements on a case-by-case basis, he said, adding that the county board’s partnership with the Will County Center for Economic Development is of “vital importance.”
Zigrossi said a larger county courthouse is a major issue and it’s needed for space reasons and to help drive the redevelopment of downtown Joliet, where it’s “critical” that the new courthouse be located. The county board is exploring how to finance the project, but Will County does not have an “open checkbook,” said Zigrossi, chairman of the board’s budget and finance committee.
Adamic said the board has been “doing more with less for many years now. We watch tax dollars as if they were our own. We have to find creative solutions and work cooperatively.”
The two incumbents have worked closely on the county plan to boost the impoverished Fairmont community in unincorporated Lockport Township that was added to District 9 two years ago.
The plan will address land development in the area, infrastructure improvements and economic development. Grant money was acquired to install sidewalks near Fairmont School and to do an engineering study on the flooding issues in Fairmont, Adamic and Zigrossi said.
“It’s baby steps but steps nonetheless,” Zigrossi said. “It is coming together, but there is still a lot of work to do. There is a lot of pride and a lot of history in that community.”