Both Republicans and Democrats have the opportunity to select candidates in Tuesday's primary election for a District 4 seat on the DuPage County Board.
There are three Republicans – incumbent Grant Eckhoff of Wheaton and challengers Ronald Almiron of Wheaton and Paula McGowen of Glen Ellyn – and two Democrats - Jeremy Custer of Glendale Heights and Moon Khan of Lombard.
Candidates cite taxes, economic viability, stormwater, government consolidation, the fate of the DuPage County Fairgrounds property and the rash of drug deaths as priorities. District 4 covers much of Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, and Glendale Heights and also takes in small portions of Carol Stream, Lombard, Lisle, Winfield, Bloomingdale and Addison.
Eckhoff, 54, an attorney who has served on the county board since 2002, said he's running on his track record of trying to keep taxes low by consolidating government while delivering government services, and his focus on what he called an "epidemic" of deaths from heroin overdoses. He said he's trying to address the drug issue through more spending on heroin education.
McGowen, 60, a longtime activist and frequent county board meeting attendee, points to her efforts to effect change, including to block a 23-home subdivision in a flood-prone area near her home and north of Glen Ellyn. She also cited her objections to a proposed $70 million expansion of the DuPage County government center.
"I'm not a rubber stamp. I'm not going to pass anything just to pass it," McGowen said.
She believes stormwater is one of the major issues facing the county and said she favors asking voters whether to charge a countywide stormwater utility fee.
Almiron, 47, a health care attorney and the son of immigrants from the Philippines, said he would bring a fresh perspective and a focus on lower taxes and less spending. He also said the 2012 U.S. presidential election made clear that the Republican Party needs to reach out to less traditional voters, and as a minority, "I believe I can do that."
Almiron said he favors having the county "go on a diet, so to speak," including considering more privatization of services and more public-private partnerships.
"I'd like to take consolidation to yet another level where we have more private enterprise involved," he said.
On the Democratic ballot, a former Republican faces off against the chief of staff for the Illinois Senate president.
Khan, 58, of Lombard, switched parties last year. He works in information technology and served as a York Township trustee for eight years. He said what sets him apart is his past experience as an elected official and as a previous employee of both the DuPage County Health Department and the DuPage Housing Authority.
He criticized GOP leaders for moving too slowly with government consolidation.
"It looks like it will take eight or 12 years. When you see that somebody has a cancerous tumor, you remove it. And there are so many agencies. I suggest that there should be some type of centralization of services, with one human resources department, one accounting department and one IT function," Khan said.
His opponent, Custer, 25, is chief of staff to State Sen. Tom Cullerton. Custer criticized Khan for his recent party switch, noting that "I've worked with Democratic politicians longer than Moon has."
Custer said he favors careful consolidation of governments in DuPage, "so you're not taking a hatchet to bodies of government, you're taking a scalpel to the unwanted portions." He also said he supports asking all voters about a stormwater utility fee and said the county has to lead the way on educating county residents about the heroin problem.