Barbara McGowan: Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Candidate, 6-Year Term

WTTW’s 2016 Voters’ Guide to the Primary is an online resource designed to inform voters about the candidates running for Cook County office in the March 15 election.

Every candidate running for a Cook County office was given two minutes to tell voters where they stand on the issues, why they feel they are best qualified and what they intend to do if elected or re-elected. The messages were recorded at the WTTW studios at no cost to the candidates. The Voters’ Guide is an online version of Candidate Free Time, pioneered by WTTW in the 1992 race for U.S. Senate. This year, we are proud to partner with the League of Women Voters of Cook County to give voters this guide to candidates for Cook County office.

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About this office: Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) is governed by a nine-member board elected at-large with three commissioners elected every two years. During the March 15 primary, some candidates will run for six-year terms, while others will run for terms that last two years.

MWRD treats water collected by sanitary and stormwater sewers in most of Cook County. It also serves as the Stormwater Management Utility for Cook County. Its mission is to protect the health and safety of citizens and area waterways.

About this candidate:

Name: Barbara McGowan
Party: Democratic
Residence: Chicago
Family: Widow, two children, two grandchildren 
Occupation: Commissioner, MWRD
Political experience: I bring a wealth of experience to the MWRD as an incumbent.

I was first elected to a six-year [term] in 1998 and was re-elected in 2004 and 2010. I have served as the chairman of the Committee on Affirmative Action since I have been a commissioner and have fought for the opportunity of minority and women-owned businesses to work on MWRD construction contracts and will continue this fight when I am re-elected.

In January 2010 I was unanimously voted Vice President of the Board of Commissioners, and I have been elected to this position for each term since. In November 2012 through January 2013 and November 2014 to Jan. 8, 2015, I served as acting President of the Board of Commissioners. 

I clearly understand and believe in the mission of the MWRD which is to protect the health and safety of the public in Cook County. I understand the EPA consent decree and have voted to pursue its goals and objectives. I have voted on policies to finalize our TARP initiatives to reduce flooding in Cook County; and I understand the importance of funding our Stormwater Management Program so that we can continue to assist local municipalities to alleviate flooding.

What is your vision for this office?
The major issue for me as an incumbent Commissioner of MWRD is to continue our efforts to fund and complete the entire TARP program which includes the completion of all phases of the McCook Reservoirs to alleviate flooding for the citizens of Cook County, and in conjunction with these efforts we must continue to fund our Stormwater Management Program where we provide funds to support Cook County municipalities in their efforts to fight flooding in the communities they serve.

We have brought two disinfection facilities in service at our Calumet and O'Brien WRP. The Calumet WRP provides chlorination/de-chlorination and the O'Brien WRP is ready to operate an ultraviolet disinfection process. We will continue with our focus on biological phosphorus removal at our Stickney, Calumet, O'Brien and Kirie WRPs.

Another major concern for me is to strengthen our diversity program to ensure that minority and women-owned businesses have the opportunity to perform work on MWRD construction and professional services contracts, and strengthen our diversity ordinance to have strong sanctions and penalties against contractors that violate our ordinance.

What is the most pressing issue facing Cook County, and how can you help address it?
As a Commissioner of the MWRD, the most pressing issue for me is the alleviation of flooding for the citizens of Cook County and improving the quality of water for drinking and recreational use. We can accomplish this by continuing funding and completion of TARP and our Stormwater Management Program, and continuing to fund infrastructure improvements at our treatment plants to address the green initiatives outlined in the EPA consent decree.


My name is Barbara J. McGowan and I am running for re-election to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of greater Chicago as a Democrat. I was first elected in 1998, re-elected in 2004, and 2010. I currently serve as vice president. In 2010 and 2015, I served as acting president.

Our mission is to protect the health and safety of the public, protect the quality of the water supply source, improve the quality of water in watercourses, and protect businesses and homes from flood damages.

I have served the citizen of Cook County the only way I know how; with honesty, fairness, and distinction. I strongly support and represent the core values and principles of the voters of Cook County and will continue to advocate for working families; affirmative action and diversity; a fair minimum wage; the continued delivery of healthcare and social services; fair housing; and an educational system that serves all of our citizens.

All around Cook County are concerned about flooding. We have completed the Thornton Reservoir and phase 1 of the McCook Reservoir to help alleviate flooding.

As chairman of the diversity committee, I have fought for the inclusion of minorities and women-owned businesses to perform work on district contracts. I will continue using my voice to promote the growth and development of minorities, women and small businesses.

I have lead the fight for women’s rights in the workplace; advocated for equal rights all of my adult life and will continue to work in this tradition of fairness and equality.

Thank you for your confidence in me. I humbly ask for your support in the upcoming election on Tuesday, March 15. Re-elect Barbara J. McGowan, Commissioner to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of greater Chicago.

Punch #132. Thank you.

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