Bolingbrook resident, Felix George is seeking a 2nd term as DuPage Township Supervisor. Felix Magazine sits down with George this month to discuss his life, career, running for office and his mission to bring the Township back on the right track.
Felix Magazine: Tell me about your family, growing up in St. Kitts-Nevis, an island federation.
George: I came from humble beginnings. I had four brothers and three sisters growing up and my parents did not go to college, but I always had the passion to go to seek higher education. it was a stretch goal of mine. Education is deeply important to our family, but College affordability can be a challenge for a family with limited means.
Felix Magazine: You are widely known in St. Kitts-Nevis. What other notable folks are from your homeland?
George: Alexander Hamilton… we knew about him at the age of 12—it was in the school’s history books. He was born in Nevis then journeyed to St. Thomas—then to the mainland USA where he rose to become the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.
Felix Magazine: You had a similar journey to the United States.
George: Yes, my journey was via the USA territory of St. Thomas to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Felix Magazine: Any other notable people from St. Kitts-Nevis?
George: The parents of Cicely Tyson the famous actress and the blues/jazz singer Joan Armatrading.
Felix Magazine: Tell me about your experience attending high school in Canada for grades 11 and 12.
George: Yes, I attended St. Catherines Collegiate High School in St. Catherines, Ontario Canada as an exchange student. St. Catherines nickname is St. Kitts, so the island of St. Kitts-Nevis was a sister city. I was chosen to represent St. Kitts-Nevis because of my high score in the grade 10 exams. Canada was cold in the winter and all we did was play hockey outside.
Felix Magazine: After high school graduation you returned to St. Kitts-Nevis—what did you do?
George: I worked as a middle school teacher for a year and a half, teaching technical drawing. After that stint I enrolled in Camden County College in Blackwood, New Jersey, in the Mechanical Engineering curriculum.
Felix Magazine: Did your parents finance your college education?
George: No silver spoon here. My parents could not afford to finance my college education, so I was on my own. I worked nights while attending college and during the summer I worked two full-time jobs. In my last semester at Camden College my drafting professor asked me what my grade point average was, and I said about 3.5, and he said, can you graduate with 3.0 or above? I said yes, and he handed me an application for a General Electric Foundation scholarship for minorities. I filled out the application and forget about it after graduation with an Associates Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Felix Magazine: Did you get the scholarship?
George: Yes, it was late August 1974 that I received the letter from the General Electric Foundation informing me that I received the scholarship. I was the only minority graduate in that year in Engineering at Camden County College. I had planned to enroll in an engineering school in Newark, New Jersey, then I switched to the Milwaukee School of Engineering University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The next week, I packed all my clothes and books in my car and drove from Camden, New Jersey thru Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois to Milwaukee, Wisconsin—and I slept in my car at night and arrived in Milwaukee late in the afternoon.
Felix Magazine: Did you know anyone in Milwaukee or Wisconsin?
George: No, I did not know anyone, but I make friends easy.
Felix Magazine: After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering you came to Illinois.
George: Yes, and I have been working as a Manufacturing Engineer ever since—13 years at GTE, 18 years at Federal Signal Corporation, Quantum Foods, Siemens, etc.
Felix Magazine: You got involved in politics when you moved to Bolingbrook m, about 33 years ago?
George: Yes, I was active in the Jaycees. I ran a couple of events, like the Run for Darlene a 10K race to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis, the St. Jude’s bikeathon for middle school aged children— proceeds benefiting St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis. I was also a member of the Bolingbrook Civic and Cultural Commission, as well as, numerous other civic organizations.
Felix Magazine: When did you get involved in real politics?
George: I was elected as a Dupage Township Trustee in 1993 and served for 5 terms. Where we implemented the first food pantry, a youth department with a full-time youth coordinator, a banquet facility at the Levy Center, and much more.
Felix Magazine: You were recently appointed on February 19, 2019 when there was a vacancy for the DuPage Township Supervisor.
George: I was appointed Township Supervisor February 19, 2019 due to the resignation of the former Supervisor. The Township audit firm, Mack & Associates made recommendations due to the numerous financial weaknesses and as Supervisor I was given a mandate to enact the necessary written policies and procedures to bring the township back on the right track.
I have implemented the following ordinances and resolutions: Department Head Purchasing, Credit Card Purchasing, Money Handling and Petty Cash, Investment Policies, Funds Balances Policy, Identity Protection, Social Media Policy, Sexual Harassment Policy and Approving a Flat Grant for General Assistance clients. These written resolutions and ordinances were 40 years overdue!
We have also passed resolutions and partnership agreements with local organizations: Community Service Counsel, Heart Haven Outreach, Trojan Football, Operation Christmas, Camp Kata Kani, The Heart Organization, Hazel House Thanksgiving Baskets and Hazel House Employment Readiness Program.
All the evidence shows that we are back on track as a Township and that is why I am running for re-election as Supervisor to maintain the gains.
Felix Magazine: Now that you have accomplished your given mandate, what is you vision for the Township?
Felix George: My vision for the Township is to look at the successful programs implemented and expand on them. During the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic we did not shutdown the Township social services, but instead we expanded the Food Pantry and added a mobile unit, servicing both Romeoville and Bolingbrook. With collaboration with The Northern Illinois Food Bank, we were able to bring mobile food pantry distribution to area apartment complexes as well. Another great program we will expand on is the Lunch and Learn for our Seniors, where they can grab some lunch and listen to a guest speaker discussing topics important to them. We will also continue with active Senior Committees, Youth Committees and Social Services Committees.
Felix George is an Executive Board member of the parent company to Felix Magazine, The Apareció Foundation. The Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was designed as an economic development strategy to lift women out of poverty and as a community development approach to build the leadership capacity of low-income women. The Foundation is unique in that it is a grassroots-based collaborative providing access for low-income women to higher education.