There's something new in the March 20 primary for DuPage County Democrats: the chance to vote in four contested county board races.
The emergence of an unusually high number of Democrat candidates in the traditional Republican stronghold has its roots in several factors: anger with the president; enthusiasm gleaned from Women's Marches; unhappiness with a perceived lack of diversity on a board dominated by white, male Republicans; and the belief that some Democrats can win in November. Here are our endorsements in the Democratic primary for county board; our endorsements in the Republican primary will follow in a later edition.
District 2: Chaplin, Kendorski
The biggest surprise is the three-way race for two seats in District 2, where the county board's lone Democrat, Elizabeth Chaplin of Downers Grove, finds herself competing with Claire Goldenberg of Lisle and Arlene Kendorski of Downers Grove.
Chaplin is an easy choice. A board member since 2012, she's willing to ask questions and challenge the status quo about everything from members' pay to lobbying costs to concerns about how to best approach consolidation. She's also been a mentor to many of the other Democrats seeking board seats.
Goldenberg and Kendorski both represent their party well. They stress the need for better communication and pledge to challenge groupthink. The edge goes to Kendorski because she has attended board meetings for more than a year and is best equipped to hit the ground running.
Chaplin and Kendorski are endorsed in the district serving Addison, Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Lisle, Lombard, Naperville, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Villa Park, Westmont and Woodridge.
District 3: Renehan, Basco
The race for two seats in District 3 features three political newcomers: Julie Renehan, a Hinsdale attorney; Mehr Qayyum, a consultant from Burr Ridge; and John Basco, a manager/teacher from Downers Grove.
Renehan pledges to "drill down" into the county budget to check spending and to actively pursue bringing more business to DuPage. Qayyum and Basco are both well-meaning novices who must better hone their messages before November. We like Qayyum's enthusiasm, but Basco gets the slight edge for his better grasp of the issues.
Renehan and Basco are endorsed in the district serving Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Lemont, Naperville, Westmont, Willowbrook and Woodridge.
District 4: Orsinger, Ozog
Democrats unhappy with the number of white male attorneys on the county board may shudder, but Trevor Orsinger, a lawyer from Wheaton, stands out in a three-person field for two seats. We like his call for "One DuPage," a bipartisan effort to address transportation, infrastructure and stormwater needs, and his willingness to examine the budget.
The other candidates are Mary FitzGerald Ozog of Glen Ellyn, who serves on the Glenbard High School District 87 school board, and Hadiya Afzal, a student from Glen Ellyn. Afzal is impressive but not yet ready; Ozog's experience makes her a clear choice.
Orsinger and Ozog are endorsed in the district serving Addison, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, Lisle, Lombard, Wheaton and Winfield.
District 6: Rutledge, Green
The three candidates seeking two board seats are all political newcomers: Sheila Rutledge, a photographer from Warrenville; Erica Green, a health care professional from Bloomingdale; and John Maguire, a student from West Chicago.
Green brings an important front-line perspective to dealing with the opioid crisis. Rutledge will push for more emphasis on social services. Maguire is smart and thoughtful but needs more experience; he someday will be a force to be reckoned with.
Green and Rutledge are endorsed in the district serving Aurora, Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glendale Heights, Hanover Park, Naperville, Roselle, St. Charles, Warrenville, Wayne, West Chicago, Wheaton and Winfield.