Endorsements: Fichtner, Curran, Eckhoff, Khouri, Nowak
The DuPage County Board has done good work holding the line on property taxes, moving toward consolidation of redundant taxing bodies and working together to benefit constituents. Many issues remain, of course, including challenges with, among other things, flooding, transportation and heroin.
It's against that backdrop that voters in five contested county board districts will be asked on Nov. 4 to choose their representatives.
DuPage District 1: Fichtner
The race in District 1 pits incumbent Republican Paul Fichtner of Elmhurst, who works in the financial industry, against feisty Democratic challenger Rolly Waller, an entrepreneur from Bensenville.
Fichtner has served as finance committee chairman on a board that has not raised property taxes in roughly a half-dozen years. No one on the board has a better grasp of the county's finances and Fichtner is not afraid to address issues facing his district and the county. His financial acumen and steady approach wins him our endorsement in the district that covers all or parts of Addison, Bensenville, Bloomingdale, Elmhurst, Glendale Heights, Itasca, Lombard, Roselle, Villa Park and Wood Dale.
DuPage District 3: Curran
Voters in District 3 will choose between Republican incumbent John Curran, a Cook County assistant state's attorney from Woodridge, and Democratic challenger Pamela Miles, a former television journalist from Downers Grove.
Curran's leadership skills in his first term are evidenced by his selection as vice chairman of the board, a post that traditionally goes to the longest-serving member. He has played a key role in helping hold the line on taxes, wrote an employee benefits revision plan that is expected to save $20 million over the next 20 years, brings insight to the county's battle against heroin and has a commanding grasp of the major issues facing DuPage.
He has earned the chance to continue serving the district that includes all or parts of Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Lemont, Naperville, Westmont, Willowbrook and Woodridge.
DuPage District 4: Eckhoff
Longtime Republican incumbent Grant Eckhoff, a Wheaton attorney, is being challenged by Democrat Jeremy Custer of Glendale Heights, who serves as chief of staff for state Sen. Tom Cullerton.
Eckhoff is not the most colorful of candidates, but he was ahead of the curve in urging the county to fund heroin education efforts and long has been an advocate for consolidation, a cause Chairman Dan Cronin has taken the first steps toward advancing. He is a steady influence and is endorsed for the district that includes all or parts of Addison, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, Lisle, Lombard, Wheaton and Winfield.
DuPage District 5: Khouri
Incumbent Republican Tonia Khouri of Aurora is a business owner who is being challenged by Democrat Regina Brent, another Aurora resident who served as an advocate in the Illinois attorney general's office.
As chairwoman of the county's economic development committee, Khouri has been a strong voice for attracting and retaining businesses in DuPage and helped launch an initiative to assist unemployed and displaced workers train for and obtain jobs in manufacturing. More impressively, as chairwoman of the county's mass transit committee, she has taken an active role in pushing for more public transit funding and additional money for Pace bus service. She deserves another term as a strong-willed advocate for the district that includes all or parts of Aurora, Lisle, Naperville, Warrenville and Woodridge.
DuPage District 6: Nowak
Democratic incumbent Laurie Nowak, a Bartlett resident involved in strategic planning and community outreach for St. Joseph Services, is being challenged by Republican Kevin Wiley of West Chicago, a director of portfolio management and a colonel in the Army Reserves.
Nowak has been on the board for just two years and as one of only three Democrats on the 18-member panel, her influence has been limited, although she has raised questions about the effectiveness of the board's lobbyists and refused to accept a pay raise.
Given a full term, we expect Nowak to grow as a board member and take a greater role in representing her district that includes all or parts of Aurora, Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glendale Heights, Hanover Park, Naperville, Roselle, St. Charles, Warrenville, Wayne, West Chicago, Wheaton and Winfield.