Republican voters in four DuPage County Board districts will face contested races in the March 20 primary to determine which candidates advance to the general election in November.
District 1: Tornatore, Gavanes
Three strong candidates -- incumbent Sam Tornatore and newcomers Dino Gavanes and Paul DeMichele -- are seeking the GOP nod for two seats in the district serving Addison, Bensenville, Bloomingdale, Elmhurst, Glendale Heights, Itasca, Lombard, Roselle, Villa Park and Wood Dale.
Tornatore has served on the board since 2012 after stints as a trustee for the village of Roselle and for Bloomingdale Township. He's an effective and thoughtful board member who has been involved with consolidation efforts and been a strong proponent for stormwater management and O'Hare noise mitigation.
DeMichele has a strong background in public service, but we think Gavanes' business background would best serve the board.
Tornatore and Gavanes are endorsed.
District 3: Hart, Tully
The three-person field in District 3, featuring sitting board member Greg Hart, Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully and Woodridge village Trustee Greg Abbott, probably represents the strongest group of candidates from either party in a contested county board primary.
Hart, a management consultant, was appointed to the board in 2017 and shows great promise. His support for streamlining governmental operations makes sense and his desire to find answers to flooding problems is genuine.
Tully, who is coming to the end of his second term as mayor of Downers Grove, has demonstrated an ability to get things done. We like his suggestion for a bottom-up approach to government consolidation. We think he could take a leadership role in the county's battle with the opioid epidemic.
Abbott is a strong anti-tax candidate who voted against property tax increases during his first two years on the Woodridge village board and then helped lead the effort to keep those taxes flat during the past five years.
All three of these candidates are well-spoken, knowledgeable and ready to serve, but we give the edge to Hart and Tully in the district serving Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Lemont, Naperville, Westmont, Willowbrook and Woodridge.
District 4: Eckhoff, Zaruba
Six candidates are running for the GOP bid for two seats in District 4 in a field featuring incumbent Grant Eckhoff of Wheaton and newcomers Ron Almiron, a Wheaton attorney; Paula McGowen, a Glen Ellyn precinct committeewoman; Christopher Zaruba, a Wheaton attorney; Craig Chinchilla, a Glen Ellyn business owner; and Elizabeth Tatro, a corporate communications manager from Wheaton.
Eckhoff is a former Wheaton City Council member who has served on the county board since 2002. His knowledge on county issues is extensive and he's played key roles in consolidation efforts and holding the line on taxes.
There's much to like about the other candidates, particularly Chinchilla's business background and Tatro's focus on transportation issues. Both would be fine choices, but we were most impressed with Zaruba's overall knowledge of county issues and his willingness to be specific about areas that must be addressed.
Eckhoff and Zaruba are endorsed in the district serving Addison, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, Lisle, Lombard, Wheaton and Winfield.
District 6: Zay, Wiley
Two incumbents, Jim Zay of Carol Stream and Kevin Wiley of West Chicago, are being challenged by Sean McQuade, a Carol Stream Elementary District 93 school board member, in the race for two seats.
Zay has been on the board since 1999 and has been an effective leader who knows his stuff and how to get things done. Wiley, a colonel in the Army Reserve, has been impressive in his three years on the board.
Zay and Wiley are clear choices in the district serving Aurora, Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glendale Heights, Hanover Park, Naperville, Roselle, St. Charles, Warrenville, Wayne, West Chicago, Wheaton and Winfield.