Party chairwoman: DuPage Democrats aim for 'empathy, problem solving'
Editor's note: A Q&A with Marty Keller, chairman of the DuPage County Republicans, ran last week. Click here to read it.
Her involvement with the Democratic Party of DuPage County stems from her passions for helping neighbors and building community.
Cynthia Borbas of Carol Stream leads a party organization that aims to gain steam after a strong 2018 showing.
Borbas became involved with Wayne Township and DuPage County Democrats in 2014. She ran for state representative in 2016 in the 45th District but fell to incumbent Republican Christine Winger in a race that drew more than $2 million in total spending.
Borbas' party, however, saw more success in 2018. Democrats won seven of 12 seats available on the 18-member DuPage County Board and were elected as county clerk and as circuit court judge. Democrats also claimed nine out of 14 state House and Senate seats representing parts of the county.
Borbas sat down with the Daily Herald to share the party's outlook after gaining ground in 2018.
Here is an edited version of the conversation.
Q: Has DuPage County turned politically blue?
A: Well, we're not blue, but we're making progress. It's not like an overnight success. This is something that the county party and the township parties have been working on for 10-plus years through grass-roots initiatives. We've been talking about the issues, centralizing the issues of education, safety, health care, wages and, of course, property taxes. We've been turning the hearts and minds of people to let them know that their issues are actually Democratic issues.
Q: What's changed after the party's recent successes?
A: Because of the successes we've had, we're able to look at campaigns and our elected officials in a different way that allows us to not just be saying, 'Hey, we want a seat at the table,' but be saying, 'Hey, we are here at the table. We are here to govern with you.' So there's a shift. We're evolving to thinking about ourselves in terms of governing and long-term responsibility. We are at the table now and we need to be leading and governing.
Q: How are the new Democrats doing on the county board?
A: (They) ran on a platform to not be the status quo, to not be rubber stamps, to call out pay-for-play. Our county board members ran to be a check on the current county board, which previously had one Democratic member. Now there's a bit of a voice. I see them trying to fulfill their promise and fighting to make sure the least of us are taken care of with health services, senior services, Meals on Wheels. I think it's a shake-up on the board. I feel that there's an adjustment for everyone. Our county board members are acting in good faith and doing what they were elected to do.
Q: What's the party's biggest challenge moving forward?
A: Not to get complacent. We've had a little success. People might be like, 'We're on the mountaintop. This is great!' But we need to be aware that our fight is only just begun and we still have a lot of work to do. We still need to stay focused and we need to stay unified. One thing we really believe in the Democratic Party is diversity is our strength and unity is our power.
Q: What effect does President Donald Trump have on DuPage Democrats?
A: Politics needs more empathy and problem solving. As elected officials, it's the responsible thing to work with everyone. But when someone is a bad actor, you need to call them out. When Trump says his egregious rhetoric or policies, we are very disappointed in our Republican elected officials and candidates, that not more of them call him out on it. If people feel that Trump's policies and rhetoric don't reflect them -- and frankly don't reflect the majority of DuPage County at this point -- it doesn't make them more open to voting Democratic, necessarily. It makes them more open to looking at politics with a different view and having conversations. I don't know that it helps us win over voters, but it helps us have conversations. At the end of the day, we want to serve the people. We believe that government should be for the people and we want to connect on that level.