Meet the Candidate: Melinda Bush for District 31 Senate Seat

As elections draw near Patch will profile the candidates running for the District 31 seat in the Illinois Senate.

As Suzi Schmit steps down from her Senate seat, current Lake County Board member Melinda Bush, representing the Democratic party, and will square off to take the District 31 slot.


Melinda Bush was born and raised in Halfday (what is now surrounded by Lincolnshire) and moved to Grayslake when she was eight years old. She currently lives in town with her husband. Her adult son, Chris Willen, shares his time between Grayslake and Wisconsin.

Bush owned a small shop in downtown Grayslake and was one of the founding members of the Downtown Merchant's Association. In 1988 she worked with the Forest Preserve and organized the community against the sale of the White Picket Fence Farm to build infrastructure. The land is now Rollins Savanna.

Bush served as a Grayslake Village Trustee from 1990-1994. She joined the Lake County Board in 2008. She is also a commissioner with the Lake County Forest Preserve. 

Bush ran unopposed for the Democratic party's nomination in the primary election.

Civic Involvement

Bush is currently a member of the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the Grayslake Exchange Club, the Illinois Farm Bureau and a lifetime member of the Grayslake Historical Society.

She also represents the County Board on the Stormwater Management Commission; a community representative for the Lake County Forest Preserve, Rollins Savanna Site Planning Committee; a past member of the Grayslake Economic Development Commission; past member and Community Service recipient of the Illinois Parks and Recreation; recipient of the Illinois Parks Award; former co-chair of the Habitat for Humanity House Walk; former co-chair of the Grayslake District 46 Referendum Committee; former chairman of the St. Jude Bike-a-thon; past committee member and volunteer with the Grayslake 5K Family Fun Run.

Top Areas of Focus for Bush

1. Bush is focused on economic development, employment and taxes. She is a strong supporter of bringing big business to the area to create jobs and improve the economy. While serving on the Lake County Board Bush helped .

"We need to work with local business municipalities and counties and all taxing bodies to bring jobs to the county," Bush said. "Many of these are currently working independently and we want to make sure they all work together."

Bush feels it's also important for Lake County to look at expansion. She said by extending roads like Routes 45, 60, 83 and 120 "it would help bring economic growth here," she said.

2. Bush wants to get better control of spending at the state level. "I'm going to make tough decisions by cutting the programs that don't work," she said, "but making sure we keep those that do."

As a member of the Lake County Board Bush has voted against every budget that has called for maximum tax levies because she said the spending was too much for local homeowners. "The entire taxing system needs to be re-evaluated," Bush said. "People are losing their homes in this economy and we can't do that."

Bush would also like to see the state introduce zero-based budgeting which calls for budgets to essentially start from scratch where all line items are individually approved instead of only changes made from the previous year's budget.

"In these tight economic times we can't spend the money we don't have," she said. "Illinois has been kicking the can and procrastinating on paying bills and we simply can't go on that way."

3. A priority for Bush at the state level is ethics reform, something she is already familiar with. "I have a good sense of what's right and wrong and I am not afraid to stand up for it," Bush said.

On the Lake County Board and with the Forest Preserve District Bush has fought for substantial ethics reform, which ultimately resulted in changes to County ethics ordinances.

Bush said she is determined to end pay-for-play politics and re-institute proper ethics by all lawmakers at the state level. 

To find out more about Melinda Bush, visit her website.

Be sure to stay tuned to Patch for additional candidate profiles and complete election coverage by subscribing to the Grayslake Patch newsletter.


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