Jobs top priority at interfaith assembly
Sun staff November 7, 2012 3:54PM
About 400 local residents and leaders reflecting a variety of faith, racial and political traditions came out Sunday to address some of the issues facing DuPage County at a delegate assembly coordinated by DuPage United’s Fox River Valley Initiative. | Submitted
Updated: December 10, 2012 6:08AM
About 400 local residents and leaders reflecting a variety of faith, racial and political traditions came out Sunday to address some of the issues facing DuPage County at a delegate assembly coordinated by DuPage United’s Fox River Valley Initiative.
Focusing on workforce development and criticism of decisions made by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, the gathering at Faith Lutheran Evangelical Church in Glen Ellyn drew numerous local candidates in Tuesday’s elections. One driving message, however, was that civic involvement must reach far beyond the polling booth.
“Democracy cannot be a function of action done every four years, but something that is woven into the fabric of our institutions — congregations, schools and associations,” said the Rev. George Smith of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn. “DuPage United and its members focus on bringing county institutions and policy makers together to move forward on some very concrete solutions to complex problems affecting the county.”
Dania Noghnogh, 16, a member of the Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America in Willowbrook, decried ongoing attacks on mosques and synagogues. She said that, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, her mosque became a safe haven for her, and implored the assembly to work together for religious tolerance.
DuPage United — which raised concerns about misspending at the DuPage Water Commission several years before officials discovered the undetected leak of almost $70 million in reserves — has taken aim in recent months at the Forest Preserve District board. Among the activists’ areas of contention is the $56,000 salary given to commissioners, in addition to benefits. A six-point pledge was presented to the seven candidates who attended the gathering.
The group’s first priority, however, is jobs. Faith United congregation member Tom Wendorf noted that Illinois jobless numbers remain about 9 percent and said more than 80,000 manufacturing jobs are currently unfilled in Illinois, and laid partial blame on a lack of awareness of training opportunities available for manufacturing jobs.
“For every manufacturing job filled, four jobs are created in other sectors, making manufacturing an integral component to economic prosperity,” Wendorf said. “Instead of its current economic development strategy of primarily using local funds to move or keep a company, DuPage should invest local funds in workforce development.”
A call to action culminated the assembly, proposed by Joe Dutra, justice and advocacy associate at Hesed House in Aurora.
“If we are going to hold elected officials accountable for what they do, we have to do the same for ourselves,” Dutra said, urging participants to vote in Tuesday’s election and pay special attention to the local races and to participate in additional endeavors being organized by the DuPage United — Fox River Valley Initiative.