Dan Pogorzelski Running for MWRD (Cook County, IL) – Being involved in government and politics during the past 12 years gave Daniel Pogorzelski a variety of perspectives and lessons. Currently working as communication specialist for Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Pogorzelski was recently slated to run by the Cook County Democratic Party for the two-year term as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
If elected, Pogorzelski would be completing the remainder of outgoing Commissioner Deborah Shore’s term, who was appointed recently to serve as the regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 5.
A Record of Service
“I see myself as someone with a record of service who has a proven record that he cares about our community and is wholeheartedly dedicated to improving peoples’ lives,” said Pogorzelski.
“Whether it was as executive director of a neighborhood chamber of commerce, a volunteer helping to create green infrastructure projects, working for a Chicago Alderman, or as a staffer for a legislator in the Illinois General Assembly, my expertise is with connecting people to resources. It is my belief that I can bring a lot to the table.”
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District has been improving the environment and protecting public health since its inception as the Sanitary District of Chicago in 1889. The organization has a $1.3 billion budget for 2022 to ensure that critical resources are available for the health and water environment for more than 5.25 million residents it serves.
Pogorzelski believes it’s essential to have the right people working as commissioners because of the need to work with the myriad levels of government in Cook County.
“Given that residents have to work with aldermen, state legislators and county officials, you need an ally to help you navigate through bureaucracy,” he said.
“Government agencies often intimidate people who are looking for answers or solutions for their problems. When it comes to flood abatement and treating their wastewater, I want to make sure that the MWRD is responsive to people’s concerns”
Calling himself a “professional volunteer”, Pogorzelski is proud of his record of community work across the Chicagoland area. He has been on the board of the Hairpin Arts Center, and has helped paint murals across Chicago from West Englewood to Brighton Park to Bridgeport to Forest Glen. Pogorzelski states that he sees a role for the arts to better link the MWRD with the people it serves.
Fellow Slated Candidates
It’s a passion that he shares with his fellow slated MWRD candidate Patricia Theresa Flynn who is running for the 6 six-ear term. Pogorzelski also cites his connection to an effort in Avondale and Chicago’s Polish Village at the intersection of Kimball and Milwaukee which closed off a small section of Woodard Street to transform it into a community space. Pogorzelski says that this plaza, which will be redesignated as ‘Solidarity Triangle’ in 2022, absorbs significantly more rainfall during a storm event in its current configuration.
The amount of permeable surfaces was increased eight times over, from a mere 185 square feet on the traffic island to 1,500, thanks to which storm water can be absorbed and filtered where it falls, including the runoff from adjacent streets.
In addition, he sees his role as connecting with the many linguistic communities who live in Cook County.
“Around 35 percent of Cook County residents primarily speak a language other than English at home,” said Pogorzelski, who was born in Chicago while his father immigrated from Poland in 1973.
Diversity in the MWRD Service District
“We have racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity in the MWRD service district. We cannot overcome the challenges posed by climate change without communicating with our neighbors in the language they are most comfortable speaking.”
One of those projects is the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) also known as “Deep Tunnel”. TARP is a system of exceptionally large tunnels and reservoirs designed to reduce flooding, improve water quality in Chicago area waterways, and protect Lake Michigan from pollution caused by sewer overflows. TARP captures and stores combined stormwater and sewage that would otherwise overflow from sewers into waterways in rainy weather.
“The Deep Tunnel is a modern marvel of engineering. More than 100 miles of tunnels and as deep as 350 feet underground,” added Pogorzelski.
He believes the tunnel’s biggest issue is its inadequate state because of climate change since it was first designed and he sees green infrastructure- improvements which help absorb rainfall where it occurs is key to making up the difference.
It’s a priority for him and his fellow slated MWRD candidates, which includes Matteson Clerk Yumeka Brown, Crestwood Trustee Patricia Theresa Flynn, as well as incumbent commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos.
Dan Pogorzelski Running for MWRD