Hadiya Afzal: Candidate profile
City: Glen Ellyn
Office sought: DuPage County Board, District 4
Education: DePaul University Class of 2020
Civic involvement: Election judge in 2016
Elected offices held: Milton Township Democratic precinct committeewoman
Questions and Answers
1. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
I'm running for office because I believe local politics are essential to improving the immediate lives of DuPage residents and there's no position as adequately prepared to take on that responsibility as the county board. In addition to being the direct representatives for residents who live in unincorporated parts of DuPage County, the board has the additional chance to set an exemplary standard for its own towns and other counties across the state by implementing progressive legislation in fields such as criminal justice, housing, the environment, and education.
In the midst of a global climate crisis, it's critical for every political body to work toward mitigating its catastrophic consequences -- from the federal level all the way down to local representatives. I'm particularly motivated by the need to pass climate legislation at the county board level because the costs of not
doing so are both varied and immediate, as I've witnessed in my time as both a DuPage resident and abroad while working on climate policy in the European Parliament. The suburbs are incredibly important in the fight to mitigate carbon emissions and it's time to not only acknowledge that but act on it by passing meaningful legislation.
2. If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?
As a challenger, I believe I would bring a new perspective of county issues to the board, with an eye for environmentally progressive policies and an understanding that local policies like those constructed by the county board are the building blocks of better overall legislation that serves residents.
The current board has set a relatively steady course for DuPage County, but there are clear examples of how taxpayer money could be used better. The board's "pay-to-play" standard for granting contracts to campaign donors and the annual $200,000-plus allotted in the county's budget for Springfield and Washington, D.C., lobbyists is unacceptable. This money could be better used for expanding upon public sector services that actually help the people of DuPage, such as housing, public transit and combating the opioid epidemic.
The county board's ability to step up and lead on important issues such as opening needle exchange sites or abolishing cash bail for the county jail is also unparalleled, and I believe that I can bring that kind of forward-thinking to the board if I'm elected in November.
3. Should county board members continue to start their regular board meetings with an invocation? Please say why or why not.
If I have a choice between ending invocations or working with my colleagues to pass concrete, meaningful legislation that will improve the lives of my constituents -- I'm going to pick the latter. Focusing on the people of DuPage is my biggest priority, and I don't believe that a fight over religious invocations has any
part in that vision.
4. How do you rate the county government on transparency and the public's access to records? If you consider it adequate, please explain why. If you think improvements are needed, please describe them and why they are important.
Transparency and public access are about a lot more than just granting records to individuals who make specific requests for them -- it involves a principled, multifaceted approach to inclusion and accessibility. The time of county board general meetings, currently 10 a.m. on Tuesdays (and often earlier for committee
meetings) is unsustainable for anyone who isn't a county board member. The amount of people who are able to attend early weekday meetings to be aware of what their representatives are discussing and voting on is extremely low, and it's the county board's responsibility to amend that.
5. Does there need to be more bipartisanship and cooperation on the county board? If yes, what would you do to help make that happen?
When it comes to county policy, partisanship should be the furthest thing from any board member's mind. Bipartisan cooperation is how I intend to legislate when I'm elected to the county board, and I'll do so by working with my colleagues in committee to craft legislation that will support all of our DuPage constituents.
6. Do you support a plan to merge the recorder's office with the county clerk's office? Why or why not?
I do support the plan to merge the county recorder's office with the county clerks'. Counties across the state have seen the benefits and savings of merging the two bureaucratic offices, and I believe DuPage shouldn't be slow in following.
The idea floated by some current board members of commissioning an independent study to analyze the specific savings of such a merger is patently ridiculous -- the act of commissioning that study itself costs money! The recorder's office isn't even mandated in the Illinois constitution, and if the board adheres by its own principle of eliminating unnecessary offices, this should be a no-brainer decision.