Voters in DuPage County Board District 4 are getting something rare this year: a Democratic primary.
M. Moon Kahn of Lombard and Jeremy Custer of Glendale Heights are seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for the one available District 4 seat on the county board.
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Whoever wins the March 18 primary election will have to face the Republican nominee in November's general election that will determine who represents the district for the next four years.
Republicans competing for the GOP nomination are incumbent Grant Eckhoff of Wheaton, Paula McGowen of Glen Ellyn and Wheaton resident Ronald Almiron.
If a Democratic candidate were to win the District 4 seat, he would be in the minority on the 18-member county board, which has only three Democrats.
Custer said during a Thursday meeting with the Daily Herald's editorial board that he's able to work with Republicans.
"I think that my sisters would say that I'm pretty good at compromising," he said.
The 25-year-old says he would bring energy and a fresh perspective to the county board. As chief of staff to state Sen. Tom Cullerton, Custer said he also has experience in delivering government services.
"My day-to-day job is dealing with problems when government doesn't work for people," Custer said. "No one comes to me on a good day."
Khan was a Republican until he recently switched parties. During his time with the GOP, the 58-year-old information technology specialist served for eight years as a York Township trustee.
"I know how government works," said Khan, adding he has interacted "at various levels" with numerous local issues.
"I know from the bottom up the problems and how it can be resolved," he said. "That's my expertise."
Both Khan and Custer said they support the county's efforts to reform and consolidate local government.
But Khan said DuPage should take greater steps to centralize services and merge county offices. He said one example is how officials are exploring whether certain functions of the DuPage County clerk's office and the DuPage Election Commission could be consolidated to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
"The county has been trying to reduce (its) budget and cut costs," Khan said. "I will try to be a team player and come up with some new solutions."
While he supports consolidation, Custer said it's a process that must be done carefully to prevent services for residents from being negatively impacted.
"Yes, we need to save the taxpayers money," Custer said. "Yes, Illinois has more units of local government than any state.
"We need to address the problem," he said. "But at the same time, don't throw the baby out with the bath water."
If elected, Custer said his top priority will be to make sure county government works for the residents. "If you want someone who's going to be the best customer service rep for the county, I'm your guy," he said.
Khan said he would bring his experience as a community activist to the county and not sit quietly at board meetings.
"I am a person who can go and stand up and say, 'This is wrong.'" he said.
County board District 4 covers all or parts of Addison, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, Lisle, Lombard, Wheaton and Winfield.