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Betty J. Washington: Candidate for At-Large Joliet City Council Seat

3/10/2017, 2:42 p.m.
Betty J. Washington is running for Joliet City Council in April.
Betty J. Washington Photo by Brock A. Stein

Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up, go to school, describe your family life, what are your hobbies, how do you make a living? I grew up in Lockport, IL. I attended Fairmont Elementary School, Lockport Township H.S. and the University of St. Francis. I hold a B.S. Degree Cum Laude in Applied Organizational Management and a M.S. Degree in Training and Development. I am a member of the Delta Epsilon Sigma National Scholastic Honor Society. I also hold a Certificate of Completion in Community Development/Leadership and Grant Writing from Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I am divorced and the mother of four adult children. I enjoy reading and volunteering for non-profit organizations.

As a highly effective communicator, I have the ability to establish a rapport with people of all levels. I am flexible in the face of changing circumstances, and an effective facilitator.

In my 30 year career at AT&T I demonstrated a strong track record in meeting deadlines, being dependable and trustworthy. As a Planning and Budget Manager for the Special Networks Engineering Department I managed a multi-million dollar budget for the five -state Ameritech Region, which included Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. I retired in 2002.

I am currently employed at Illinois Action for Children as an Assistant Director of the Family Resources Department. IAFC administers the Child Care Assistance Program in Cook County for the Department of Human Services.

Why are you running for an at-large council seat? I am running for the Joliet City council because I am a concerned citizen who has been very active in Joliet for many years. I believe in being involved and engaged in improving the quality of life for all residents of Joliet. I am one of the founding members of the Joliet Quality of Life Task Force. I wrote the proposal used to secure funding for the City Council to hire consultants to do a needs assessment of Council Districts 4 & 5. The Joliet Quality of Life Plan was written as a result of their findings.

I would like to revisit the Quality of Life Plan developed in 2007, and perhaps work on implementing some of the recommendations made

Gambling revenue is on a downward trend from a high in 2007 of just over $36 million to just over $18 million in 2015. What are some other funding streams you see as potential options for the city to replace those shrinking funds?

There needs to be more small businesses/nice restaurants and entertainment that will draw people to the downtown area. Exploring ways to open up Chicago Street to 2-way traffic again in collaboration with the Joliet Chamber of Commerce, the Will County Center for Economic Development and the City Center Partnership to increase incentives to businesses is necessary. We must somehow change the image of downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. Safety is a concern when traveling to certain parts of the city.

Mayor O’Dekirk had discussed reinstating a five-year budget plan that had been discontinued under the previous mayor as part of his transition into office. Do you see that as a useful tool for the city and if so will you push for a 5-year budget forecast and how will you make sure it’s implemented? I would support a five-year budget plan. I would like to review the City’s Strategic Plan to better understand the direction and plans the Mayor and the current City Council have moving forward. I would be an advocate for a fiscally responsible budget and a Strategic Plan for the city.