By Kim Savage, DGTDO Chair

We’ve said it before, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote!” This quote is attributed to magazine editor George Jean Nathan. This has played out over and over again throughout the county, the state, and even locally when school boards have been taken over by Tea Partiers bent on destruction of the public education system and creation of a bench to launch candidates for higher office. For decades, local Republicans have used local elections to create their local networks and funding to move officials into bigger roles. Just from College of DuPage, the Tea Party has sent 2 people to the state legislature and others who started out as council members, mayors or trustees are on the County Board.

Local Democrats, on the other hand, have long suffered from “I’m the only Democrat on my block” syndrome. Many of us are afraid to offend our neighbors by putting up yard signs or discussing politics. Much of that changed in 2016 and we have since elected Sean Casten to Congress, joining Bill Foster, Mike Quigley, and now Marie Newman. Everyone in Downers Grove Township also has a Democratic County Board Member; and there is a majority of Democrats on the County Board.

Maintaining our Democratic gains and building upon them is dependent on Democrats turning out in the April 6 Consolidated Election. Are you one of the thousands of good Democrats in our township who do not vote in local elections? Yes, there are thousands; if you do vote, you certainly have many neighbors, friends, and relatives who do not vote.

In general, people are happy with local government, except when they aren’t. Then, they yell and complain a lot; some will take action. However, navigating the geopolitical reality in Downers Grove Township is very challenging. There are 10 municipalities, three of which cover parts of Cook County! In addition, 10 park districts, 3 fire protection districts, 2 library districts (plus municipalities that elect distinct library trustees), and 15 school districts. (In my own precinct, there are 2 fire districts and 2 school districts). This mess is compounded by the fact that local news outlets have disappeared or diminished over the past decade, and what does exist is rarely staffed with dedicated reporters and editors who know the community. These races are non-partisan (and should be), but the lack of good information about candidates and issues motivates most people to sit on the sidelines. Even more astounding is the fact that some of these entities did not have anyone file to run for open seats (more about that later).

In 2021, there is ONE partisan election for a local unit of government that impacts everyone in the township, whether they live in Burr Ridge, unincorporated Lemont, Downers Grove, or any of the other places we call home: Downers Grove Township. Our township government has been controlled by the Republican Party since its establishment (more than 140 years). As we have been mentioning for months, most people don’t even know it exists or what it does (and that is explained elsewhere in this newsletter). Currently, it barely provides services that it should and people who need them are not aware of them. Moreover, the highway department, which residents in unincorporated areas depend on, is poorly managed and exists as a source of jobs for the current Commissioner’s relatives.

The township had one program that worked very well, the Peer Jury. This program provided an alternative to the court system for non-violent, first offenders who were minors. It was a model program that served communities throughout the township, and yet the Township Board of Trustees discontinued it. Thankfully, under the leadership of our DGTDO Vice Chair and Downers Grove Village Council Member, Greg Hosè, the Village of Downers Grove picked up the program in conjunction with other local municipalities. While townships are limited in the services they are allowed to provide, what is provided can be reimagined and re-engineered to ensure more efficient and responsive delivery to the residents of the township.

It is Your Township, Your Voice, and a New Choice for leadership of the township. It is up to you to help make it happen. The Republicans will outspend us in this election for sure, but by using the networks that each of you have, we can win this election. It is all about turning out the right voters. More information is included elsewhere in this newsletter. So, please boost on social media, talk to your friends, and donate what you can.

Back to municipal races. The Downers Grove Township Democratic Organization does NOT endorse in non-partisan races. However, people always ask, so we have identified candidates who we believe share our Democratic values. Please refer to that information when visiting our website. Regarding the seats where there were no candidates filed, we were successful in recruiting some people to run as write-in candidates. Unfortunately, for two of the races, other people also filed, making them competitive. The write-in candidates to support are:

·        Village of Clarendon Hills Trustee: Allyson Russo

·        Village of Westmont Trustee: Amylee Hogan Simonovich

·        Indian Prairie Public Library District: Sri Rao

We encourage all of you to request your Vote by Mail Ballot now. They will be mailed February 25. Educate yourselves about candidates and issues. Then, fill out and return your ballot. Or you will be able to vote early in person or on Election Day. See information in this newsletter about voting.

The future is in your hands! Vote!