Meet Theresa Barreiro

In an election year, KCDW publishes bios of members who are running for local, state and national offices. The KCDW Public Relations/Media Committee (Sylvia and Linda) recently interviewed Theresa Barreiro, Vice Chair of Kane County Democratic Women, to ask some questions about her campaign and how she balances work responsibilities with family responsibilities

Presently, Theresa serves as the Kane County Circuit Clerk and kicked off her re-election campaign on September 7th, 2023, which began the cycle of campaigning door-to-door and collecting signatures to get her name on the ballot.

Our first question was whether growing up in a political household motivated Theresa to run for office.

Theresa’s mother was an Aurora township trustee and a board member for many years. Surprisingly, Theresa said that as a child she disliked politics. She is the oldest of five children and realized when she was young that politics took a lot of her mother’s time and put more responsibility on her as the oldest child. However, her mother took the kids with her to political events, and Theresa watched her mother hold her own with other township board members when her mother was the only woman on the board and sometimes challenged by the other board members. Theresa first realized the influence her mother had when well-known Democrats from Chicago and Springfield came to a local meeting to ask her mother to help them “get out the vote” in Aurora for a national candidate. That’s when she knew her mother had influence and was “in touch” with the community because she took phone calls from constituents and went door-to-door talking to them, finding out their concerns, and following up on ways to help the people who elected her.

Theresa commented that she “was raised” to serve the community and has followed in her mother’s footsteps by working for the county in various positions. She was first elected to the Kane County Board in 2012 and already had an extensive background in local government. Her first experience in the Kane County Clerk’s Office was serving as a state registrar for six years. In 1990 she was hired by the city of Aurora as a deputy city clerk and was promoted to various positions in Community Development and Building and Permits. Later, during her eight-year tenure on the Kane County Board, Barreiro served on many committees, including finance and environmental protection, and held leadership positions, which included being Chair of Community Development.

Our next question was about the duties of the circuit clerk.

Theresa explained there are two clerk’s positions in the county: the county clerk, who is responsible for voting and elections, and the circuit clerk, who keeps all records for the county. As circuit clerk and recordkeeper, Theresa is responsible for 105 employees in 10 locations throughout the county, and her office is responsible for creating, maintaining, and providing all records of the court, which includes being the custodian of evidence placed in the court records. A deputy clerk from the office is present at every court hearing, whether held  in person or via remote. The office also processes fines and fees collected with the recordkeeping duties and provides services for the public, the bench, and the bar. Just like the court, the public uses the services of the circuit clerk’s office daily for items such as wills, deeds, traffic tickets, etc.

We were amazed by the many facets of Theresa’s position, and this led to a question about the changes and accomplishments she has made to improve services to the community.

While serving on the Kane County Board, Theresa realized that changes need to be made at the circuit clerk’s office. First, employee pay was very low, and there were not enough employees to handle the workload. Because of the low pay, no one was applying for the posted positions. Secondly, the case-management system needed to be updated. She tackled both of these issues the first year. Right away, she increased entry-level pay to $15 per hour and set up job fairs to find new employees. Currently the entry salary is $17.75.

 She also gave raises to employees who had worked for years without raises so that they would be fairly compensated when compared to the new entry-level pay. And she asked the IT Department to install an updated version of the Case Management System/Odyssey and an updated platform of the Electronic Court Operations,which improved courtroom duties. Because of Covid restrictions and some cases being held remotely, Theresa also distributed work-from-home equipment when needed to keep employees and the public safe. The 16th Judicial District currently has two courtrooms that have equipment for a “hybrid” environment. To help the public pay fees, she set up a drop box at the main office in St. Charles for people who did not want to come inside the office or pay online.

We were curious about how her personal values such as campaign integrity and loyalty to the community serve her in her day-to-day activities.

She responded that she emphasizes good customer service and kindness in dealing with the public. The office set up a new phone system, which handles calls to the office number whether employees are in the office or working remotely. She believes her main purpose is to serve the public. Last year, she set up three expungement clinics throughout the county. This involved working with States Attorney Jamie Mosser, Prairie State Legal, and some legal volunteers to help people with minor offenses get their files expunged or sealed, so it does not hinder them in getting jobs. This service is not offered to people who committed serious or violent crimes. Most of all, she believes in an accountable and transparent office and is committed to the public to improve efficiency and provide timely and efficient services. Her office oversees a budget of over $8 million. Theresa goes line-by-line to see where departments can collaborate to save money for Kane County residents.

Lastly, we asked about challenges for the future. Theresa  emphasized that additional employees are still needed, and she continues to hold job fairs and set up training for employees. Part of her duties include keeping track of county statistics, and she continues to provide more statistics that can be used in decision making. Her office along with the 16th Judicial set up a dashboard for the Safe-T-Act, and she hopes to make things easier for the public to obtain documents in the future by setting up self-service kiosks. 

You may wonder how Theresa balances her long work days with family responsibilities and relaxation.

Theresa and her husband Dan enjoy camping and weekend vacations, and they attend concerts when possible. They also enjoy visiting their daughters in NYC when they can get away. Theresa has the support of family (her husband and three grown children) and friends who are always there for her as she is for them. She still finds time to volunteer in her community and is an active member of Kane County Democratic Women.