VILLA PARK – In an effort to continue developing relationships with constituents and community members, state Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Elmhurst, hosted a luncheon for local media representatives at her constituent services office in Villa Park on Monday.
During the meeting, local reporters and editors talked with Conroy about some of the issues she faced during her first legislative session and about her priorities during her freshman term.
At the top of the list is pension reform.
"The biggest reason anyone was elected [in the November election] was to sort out pensions," Conroy said. "People just want it to be fixed."
Currently, Conroy said she supports the Cross-Nekritz pension bill, which was introduced by state Reps. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, and Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook. She considers this the tougher of the two bills currently circulating the House of Representatives, but said she believes it will offer long-term solutions for the state.
"Now, I'm just committed to trying to get the pension thing done," she said.
During the past few months, Conroy also has helped introduce a bill that would restore the study of civics in schools and another that would adjust the salaries of the DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioners, which she said are significantly higher than the compensation given to other forest preserve boards.
She's also focused on helping to dissolve some of the unnecessary or redundant layers of government in the county.
During her first legislative session, she said she logged more than three hours of debate on the House floor, almost triple what most freshmen representatives experience.
"I definitely wanted to be a freshman who could sit back and learn the process," she said. "That didn't happen."
Conroy is the mother of four, grown sons and is an artist by trade. She previously served on the Elmhurst District 205 school board and ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives in 2010.
Despite not being elected then, Conroy said she did well in many of the towns that are now included in the House 46th District, so she decided to run again.
She describes her district as one that faces different issues than many of the other parts of DuPage County. Much of it is working-class communities, compared to the very-wealthy county as a whole.
The issues here are unique, she said, and she's working to be accessible to them.
When she's not in Springfield, Conroy said she spends 25 hours a week walking her district. She's held town hall meetings and has developed a series of advisory committees that meet regularly, addressing education, family, health care, veterans, senior and women's issues.
"We're trying to get the word out that we are here for the community," Conroy said.