One of my top priorities as a candidate for the Lake County Board is combating the opioid epidemic. I’m passionate about this issue for many reasons. First, we are dealing with a serious opioid problem in our nation, in our county, and in our local communities. Recent data shows that Antioch and Lake Villa are leading Lake County in overdose hospital visits. Antioch has seen a sudden spike in overdoses just over the past couple of weeks. Another reason this issue is so near and dear to my heart is because I once suffered from a substance abuse disorder myself. My story is just like millions of Americans. I was injured on the job and was prescribed opiates for pain. I developed a habit and once the doctor stopped prescribing medication, in desperation, I turned to street narcotics. This led me down a dark path in my life. I did many things out of character for me and alarmed everyone who knew me. I went through a lot, and if you ever saw a picture of me from that time, you’ll see it showed. I’ve worked hard, and through the grace of God and the help of my family, I was able to pick myself up and follow a path of successful long-term recovery. I am one of the lucky ones. Far too many people never get the help they need. It could be your brother, neighbor, son, co-worker, or granddaughter.
I have to believe this happened to me for a reason, and that I was called to service. One reason so many people asked me to run for the Lake County Board is because they know that my life experiences will be valuable in developing solutions that really work for the county. At first, I hesitated to run because of my background. I did some things I am not proud of and I knew political opponents would use my past against me. Then I thought about the harm that not only came to me but also my family and friends. I thought about how many other families in our community are affected at this very moment and realized I had to do something. For that reason, I felt a calling to run for this office so I can make a difference in the lives of so many. I understand, as many people can’t, what is actually needed to address the opioid crisis that is devastating our county.
Having better solutions for the opioid crisis will not only prevent harm and death but will lower the cost of dealing with substance use disorders and the impact on our society. Most people don’t realize how expensive this problem is and how property tax bills increase when substance abusers are cycled through the public health and criminal justice systems. Facing the situation head on will save taxpayers money. For instance, research shows that every dollar invested in substance abuse centers saves $4 in healthcare costs and $7 in law enforcement and criminal justice costs.
I share my story to not only bring hope to individuals and families still suffering, but to bring light to this crisis that is destroying our communities and tearing families apart. The more we discuss this difficult topic and the sooner we begin to alleviate the stigmas associated with substance abuse, the easier it becomes to deal with it as a community. I want to be an example of how a person can pick themselves up and make a difference. As a county board member, I also plan to bring money back to all areas of my district for roads and infrastructure. In addition, I will create good working relationships with our colleagues in Springfield to hold the line on property taxes.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Candidate for Lake County Board, District 1