By Kim Savage

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Effecting change can be challenging, sometimes nearly impossible. Whether strengthening the safety net to protect our most vulnerable neighbors, implementing environmental protections, ensuring human rights, or guaranteeing citizens the right to vote, people have fought hard and even died to put people over profit.

Certainly, the election of 2016 created a greater sense of urgency within our nation, prompting many people to become more aware of the importance of vigilance and action in our communities. Increased involvement built a foundation for a greater understanding of the strength and energy put forth by long time activists. Ultimately, we must all acknowledge that making the world a better place is not a one-time thing, it is a never ending project. It all starts with prioritizing and acting on common goals.

In 2018, local Democrats united to elect 2 new Representatives in the U.S. Congress, Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood. DuPage residents also elected 6 more County Board Members, the County Clerk, the President of the Forest Preserve District, and a Circuit Court Judge, as well as 2 more State Senators and 4 more State Representatives. The victories were rewarding and will have long term impact, if we hold the ground we have achieved and expand to the next level.

Following those victories, an amazing group of residents organized in southeast DuPage County to fight for protecting public health. These local heroes sounded the alarm and enlisted neighbors into action to shut down the Sterigenics plant that had been emitting carcinogenic gases into the air for decades. Their relentless efforts to educate residents, local officials, and legislators have made a major impact on the community and demonstrate the importance of persistence in achieving results. The fight is not over yet. There are still facilities emitting Ethlyene Oxide in Illinois and across the country. Please stay engaged and honor their work as they pave the way to ban this substance in Illinois and nationwide. Thank you to all who led and participated in the Stop Sterigenics movement.

As we move forward into 2020 and other issues, we need to support each other as issues arise, prioritize what is most important, and move together in a positive direction. We may not all agree on every issue and that is okay. Let’s be respectful of others when we disagree. Most importantly, keep squabbles among ourselves and off of social media. If we don’t, we will elect more Republicans.