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Glen Ellyn

A razor-thin win: Glen Ellyn’s Hadiya Afzal reflects on Democratic primary victory in DuPage District 4

Hadiya Afzal
Hadiya Afzal

GLEN ELLYN – Hadiya Afzal, a student at DePaul University, is the winner of the Democratic primary for DuPage County Board member in District 4.

Afzal finished 29 votes ahead of her closest opponent among five candidates in the primary that took place March 17.

The win came courtesy of “a lot of work from local supporters. I ran in 2018 and that first one really helped the second time around. I learned a lot the first time,” said Afzal, 20, of Glen Ellyn.

That first campaign two years ago taught her how to collect petitions and how to best use a phone bank when seeking votes.

She won the Democratic primary in 2018 and finished fourth among people seeking two seats in the general election that November.

This time around, she had a narrow 29-vote victory over Lynn LaPlante, also of Glen Ellyn. Afzal received 4,262 votes. LaPlante had 4,233.

The other candidates were Janette DeFelice (3,386), Hailey Nicewanner (1,636) and John Jacobs (1,601).

The day after the primary, Afzal sent an email to supporters thanking them.

“Every other candidate in this primary has run spirited, positive campaigns. I’m glad to have seen them all step up to serve their communities, driven by their strong Democratic principles,” she wrote.

“Though voting on Election Day was fraught with difficulties with the COVID-19 crisis, I’m also grateful for the efforts of the volunteers and poll workers who stepped up in this difficult time.

“In addition to yesterday’s election judges, I also want to thank everyone who waited in long lines, requested mail-in ballots, and voted early in DuPage. Every vote counts in every election and this primary was no different. ... For a grassroots movement like ours, this may have once seemed like an impossible victory. I’m grateful for the volunteer support and passion that allowed us to gain this edge last night.”

It makes sense for her to want a seat on the county board. Afzal is a political science major in DePaul University’s Honors College. She’s also president of College Democrats of Illinois.

Attending school and campaigning in District 4, which covers large parts of Wheaton, Glen Ellyn and Glendale Heights and smaller portions of Winfield, Bloomingdale, Lombard, Addison and Carol Stream, involved plenty of “time management,” she said with a laugh.

“Having one good conversation with someone can make up for 10 doors when no one’s home,” she said.

Afzal was endorsed by the progressive organization Run For Something.

She will be running against Republican incumbent Tim Elliott, who ran uncontested.

The main thing on her agenda is addressing climate change on the local level. She’s studied what other countries have done.

“A big one for me is an investment in public transit,” she said. “It’s fundamentally impossible to get around the suburbs without a car, and that needs to change very quickly if we want to mitigate climate change on a scale that makes a difference.

“It should be easier to get around without a car,” she added.

She’d also like to address the county’s opioid abuse crisis.

“There are policies that we know work when it comes to combating this,” she said. “Safe injection sties, needle exchange programs, investing in building rehab facilities.”

The county board can take steps “to reduce community spread” of the coronavirus, she said. Mortgage and rent freezes should be considered during the fight against the spread “so residents here in DuPage don’t have to worry,” she said.

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