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DuPage officials grant Metra Board hopeful interview — after slot will be filled

Mary FitzGerald Ozog

Mary FitzGerald Ozog

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Updated: September 3, 2013 10:05PM

Metra may be functioning with only six of 11 board members, but winning an interview for the current DuPage County Metra vacancy has not been easy, a Glen Ellyn woman told a new transit task force Tuesday.

Mary FitzGerald Ozog said she encountered an application process that so lacked “transparency” that she thinks transit board members should be elected.

Addressing the Northeastern Illinois Transit Task Force, Ozog said she wrote the office of DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin to apply for the vacant Metra DuPage County seat the day after Paul Darley resigned it.

Ozog, a Glenbard High School District 87 board member, said she was given an interview date for a week after the DuPage County Board will vote on who should get its Metra seat.

When she called Cronin’s county board office recently to question this timing, Ozog said, she was told there were “many candidates” and Cronin had already “selected a candidate” for the board to vote on.

Cronin spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet explained later that Cronin has publicly pledged to fill the DuPage Metra vacancy by the next meeting of the Metra Board, on Sept. 20.

“There’s a crisis” and to meet this Sept. 20 deadline, Pardonnet said, Cronin picked a candidate last week so officials will have time to vet the applicant and approve that person at the DuPage County Board’s next scheduled meeting, on Sept. 10.

The “top candidate” is “far superior to any other candidate who has applied, has more relevant and recent transit experience, including leadership roles” and “will have the confidence of the members of the DuPage County Board,’’ Pardonnet said.

However, Ozog questioned why DuPage County Board officials didn’t publicly post the opening and closing dates of their Metra application process, as some other county officials have.

Her transit experience, Ozog said, includes working as a “planner” at both CTA and Metra and visiting “99 percent” of Metra’s stations.

Ozog, 55, described herself as currently an “administrative assistant” but also as a member of a school board that has hired a superintendent, negotiated a five-year teachers contract and overseen a multi-million-dollar budget since she was elected to it in April 2011.

She urged the task force to establish criteria and qualifications for transit board candidates and a universal process for selecting board members.

And, she recommended transit board members be elected.

“Please consider how board members are selected. It really matters,’’ Ozog told the task force.

Pardonnet said Ozog will still be interviewed as scheduled because she could still be considered for a future Metra seat.

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