Zahra Suratwala: Candidate profile, DuPage County Board District 1
Democrat Zahra Suratwala of Elmhurst is challenging Republican incumbent Donald E. Puchalski of Addison for a seat on DuPage County Board District 1 in the Nov. 3 general election.
Surawala is an author and professor of English at Elgin Community College.
To explore her campaign website, check zahrasuratwala.com.
District 1 serves all or portions of Addison, Bensenville, Bloomingdale, Elmhurst, Glendale Heights, Itasca, Lombard, Roselle, Villa Park and Wood Dale.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates to answer a series of questions. Here are Surawala's replies.
Q: What have we learned as a county from the COVID-19 pandemic and what changes should be made looking forward as a result?
A: I've learned that diversity of opinion and life experiences in our leadership allows for the best solutions to serve the diverse needs of our county. We need everyone represented at the best of times, and this becomes especially true in a crisis.
Q: 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?
A: I am running because we need more diverse representation at all levels of government. We need voices from various professions, backgrounds, perspectives. We need empathy, kindness, determination and common sense. We need a new generation of leadership for DuPage County, and if we can bring balanced representation to the county board, we will see an improved quality of life for DuPage residents.
The issues that motivate me are increased transparency and accountability on the part of our elected officials, as well as better accessibility to them.
Q: 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?
A: I bring more balanced representation to the county board. I bring a fresh voice and a fresh perspective, a willingness to listen to the needs of residents, and a lens of empathy and determination. My priority in being a public servant is to serve the public. We need better transparency and accountability in our leadership, and that is my goal.
Q: Describe your position regarding the allocation of resources in the recorder of deeds' office. Are personnel allocated as they should be? Are there capital expense or other budgetary items that the office must address, and, if so, how do you propose to address them?
A: This is a question for a candidate seeking the position of recorder. I am seeking the position of county board member.
Q: Name one concrete program you'll create or personnel move you'll make to improve efficiency in the office or make it more successful. Explain how it will be funded and how you will overcome any obstacles to initiating it.
A: In reference to the county board position I am seeking, I believe in promoting diversity among personnel so that, with varied voices, we produce the best outcomes for the residents of DuPage County. Existing committees such as Complete Count and Strategic Planning can be utilized to find low-cost ways to incorporate new perspectives. We should also post appointments as job postings, like neighboring counties do, so that we can more easily find diverse candidates.
Q: Describe your position on transparency in the office and the ease of access to records by the public. If you believe improvements are needed, what are they and how would you go about achieving them?
A: In reference to the county board position I am seeking, I am strongly in support of more transparency and more accountability on the part of our elected officials and our offices. We can utilize technology to ensure information is available to residents.