Election 2018 candidate: Zahra Suratwala, DuPage County Board District 1

Political party

Democrat

Age

40

Town of residence

Elmhurst

Current occupation and employer

Writer/Editor

Professor of English at Elgin Community College

Co-Founder of the I Speak for Myself book series

Education

Master of Arts in English Literaturefrom Loyola University, May 2003

Masters Qualifying Exam

Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, graduated with Departmental Distinction, May 2000

Loyola University Honors Program

Immediate family

Husband, Taher Suratwala, Actuary

Son, Yusuf Age 10

Daughter, Nooriya Age 8

Website

Civic involvement and volunteer work

Volunteer at Emerson Elementary School (my children's school):

1. Spearheaded and run the Junior Book Club Program
2. Room Parent
3. PTA
4. Parent Volunteer

Volunteer at my mosque:

1. Young women's organization, initiated several projects and programs including a Senior Citizen's Outreach, a Green initiative to reduce waste, and a Big Sister/Little Sister mentoring program.
2. Very involved in women's upliftment and outreach
3. Donate my writing skills to my community in various capacities

For more detailed information about my volunteer work, please visit zahrasuratwala.com/communityservice.

Previous elected offices held

None

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

I am running for a seat on the DuPage County Board District 1 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.

What issues specific to your district would you like to see addressed by the DuPage County Board?

Budget: The budget has not been handled correctly and the County will soon face a deficit if this is not rectified. If we have improved fiscal oversight, we can better fund necessary services such as flood alleviation, the opioid epidemic, and the mental health crisis, and we can spend money on fixing issues that are important to residents, such as airport noise.

Accessibility: DuPage residents need a direct line of access to their elected officials. This is essential for their leadership to actually work for them. I look forward to posting a detailed account of every County Board meeting on my website, so that every DuPage County resident can easily learn what actually goes on in these meetings, and what decisions are being made. My constituents will know how to reach me and will be confident of receiving an answer from me. With knowledge comes engagement and better representation.

Where do you stand on consolidation efforts in DuPage County? What additional steps – if any – should be taken?

I support consolidation as long as it doesn’t interfere with providing essential services to residents. Consolidation can increase efficiency and can be an effective way to save taxpayer money.

If any consolidation efforts commence, residents should be given a chance to provide input, and the process should be transparent to residents.

The County Board’s ACT initiative is reported to be saving the county over $100 million, but it is not actually saving money. It is more about public relations than it is about actual consolidation and savings.

The merging of the election commission into the county clerk’s office, however, is actually very beneficial and I strongly support this. It will bring a savings of about $300,000 a year.