• Michael McDevitt
    NOV 04, 2022

    Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Candidate Primer

    The Board of Commissioners for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago convenes for a meeting Nov. 3. [MWRD Livestream]

    Four seats on the nine-member Board of Commissioners for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) are up for election Nov. 8. The board members serve staggered six-year terms and are elected at-large, meaning they represent the area as a whole and not specific districts within the MWRD.

    At least three seats are up for election every election cycle, and this year a fourth seat is open. The winner of the latter race will serve the remainder of the term of former reclamation district Comm. Debra Shore, who was appointed by President Joe Biden last year to head the Midwest regional office for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  

    The MWRD is a special-purpose district responsible for protecting areas waterways and Lake Michigan, treating wastewater and providing stormwater management for Chicago and 128 Cook County suburbs. 

    Here are the five candidates for the three open seats with expired terms. Voters can select up to three candidates in this race on their ballots. 

    • Comm. Mariyana Spyropoulos, a Democrat first elected to the commission in 2010, is the only incumbent in the race and is seeking a third term on the board. Spyropolous served as president of the board from 2015-2019. During her term as president, she maintained the district’s AAA bond rating, began live streaming board meetings and introduced independent oversight of the district, according to her website. She received the Illinois Water Environment Association Public Official Award and the Spirit of the River Award from Friends of the Chicago River in 2017. 
    • Crestwood Village Trustee Patricia Theresa Flynn is a Democrat who ran for the board in the 2020 primaries but lost. Flynn was an MWRD employee prior to her time in public office. She worked in both Pollution Control and in the laboratory of the Calumet Plant. She ran for the Crestwood Board of Trustees during its drinking water scandal and became the first woman elected to the board, according to her website. Flynn is a staunch advocate for clean drinking water, currently sits on Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s Advisory Council and is a member of both the Southwest Conference of Mayors and the Illinois Municipal League. 
    • Matteson Village Clerk Yumeka Brown is a Democrat who was elected clerk in 2017. Brown also serves as president of the Rich Township Democratic Organization and owns Redwood Luxe Bar and Grill in Olympia Fields. Brown’s website says her advocacy for clean water and air comes from a family health scare. Her son contracted an environmental illness and nearly died, though he has since fully recovered. Brown was employed by the American Bar Association in the section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, where her website said she became interested in environmental law and the Clean Water Act.    
    • R. Cary Capparelli is the sole Republican candidate in the board of commissioners race. Capparelli is currently an online professor of geography and geospatial sciences at South Dakota State University and runs a global management and marketing company. Capparelli ran for the Illinois State Legislature in House District 20 in 2020 as a Democrat but lost in the primaries. Capparelli previously was president of a winery in Argentina, according to his website. He previously served as a board member on the Illinois International Port District, chairing several of its committees, and he served as a public member on the Illinois Banking and Real Estate Board. Capparelli told WTTW one of his main priorities if elected would be to rein in spending in the MWRD.  
    • Mark E. Buettner is a Green Party candidate who told WTTW he’s running on ensuring clean rivers for swimming, boating and fishing, addressing flooding of the Des Plaines River during storms, reining in wasteful spending and controlling nutrient pollution from treatment plants. Buettner is a retired wastewater treatment operator who grew up in Mount Prospect and currently lives in Des Plaines.   

    Here are the candidates for the open seat with two years of Shore’s unexpired term remaining. Voters can only select one candidate in this race on their ballots.  

    • Daniel 'Pogo' Pogorzelski is a Democrat who has been a longtime aide to Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs and Sen. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago). If elected, Pogorzelski says on his website he will be dedicated to protecting the water quality of Lake Michigan and water courses throughout Cook County, fiscal responsibility and making systems more efficient. Pogorzelski serves as vice president of the 38th Ward Democrats and is co-chair of the Cook County Democratic Party’s Diversity Subcommittee of the Community Outreach Committee. He is also a member of the DRIVE Committee for Teamsters Local 916 and notes involvement with the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council on his website.  
    • Toneal M. Jackson is a Green Party candidate who is the founder of Artists Promoting Success and I’m Glad to be a Woman. She also hosts a podcast called Toneal Talks Politics, according to the Green Party’s website. Jackson said on the website if elected she wants to help residents learn about what the district does through education “so that ultimately, we can work together to generate ideas that the board can implement to benefit both the MWRD and community at large.” Jackson said she believes if people understood the jurisdiction of the MWRD, solutions to flooding, water conservation and polluted rivers would become more easily found. 

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