Hear From Zahra Suratwala, Candidate for DuPage County Board District 1
I’m Zahra Suratwala, a Democrat running for the DuPage County Board in District 1.
I am passionate about our DuPage communities, having chosen to raise children and start a business here, and I want to keep our district a place where all residents can live as neighbors in prosperity and safety.
With my experience living abroad and negotiating my Muslim American identity here at home, I will give a voice to a broader, more diverse population.
I bring to the County Board my passion for DuPage’s communities, my empathy for our neighbors, and my ability to be an effective advocate and ally.
Here are my answers to a YTDO questionnaire. Learn more about my candidacy here:
1. Racial Injustice and systems of oppression have been on the front burner of American society recently, instigated by mass protests and demonstrations calling for racial equality in many systems that have historically and currently kept Black Americans down. If elected, what is a change or some changes that you would make in order to shrink the many disparities that have plagued black communities for generations?
Systemic racism is indeed a plague and it is the responsibility of all members of our society to eradicate it. However I think many people are unsure of how to do so, what actions to take, how to help. If elected, I will ensure that we push out to our constituents information about uplifting the Black community, making sure Black Americans in our county are being hired, are voting, are given educational opportunities. We can support the Bail Project, and we can increase awareness by making Juneteenth a holiday in our county.
2. What motivated you to run for this position?
When Trump was elected in 2016, I realized that not paying attention to politics and assuming that the people “in charge” had it figured out was not, in fact, going to work anymore. And that it hadn’t been working for quite some time. I saw Obama give a speech where he said, “If you don’t like who is representing you, grab a clipboard and some signatures and run yourself.” And that planted a seed in my mind. I knew that if I wanted the members of the County Board to represent me and other people of color, that I needed to BE one of the members of the County Board. I could not wait for someone else to take this step, when I knew I had the ability and the heart and the determination to bring positive change.
3. What are some benefits that we would come to expect by having you in your respective position over your opponent?
I am willing to learn, I am willing to listen, I am eager to bring my compassion and my determination to the County Board. I am ready to work alongside other members so that we can move forward with positive change. I am ready to lead by example and give my time and energy to this county. My opponent is not energized; he is not ready to devote himself to this change the way I am. He has been in this seat for over a decade, and it is time for me to bring my perspective to a County Board that is sorely lacking it.
4. What is your take on the BLM movement? The changes that they are proposing (Defunding/Abolishing police, Other Police Reform)?
I am thankful that the BLM movement exists, and I am grateful that it is getting the attention it deserves. It is absurd that we need to even say that someone’s life matters- that should be something we are taking for granted- but the fact that it needs to be said means there is a lot of work to be done. I am very interested in police reform at the minimum, and I can see many positive reasons to defund/abolish the police and start over - we can instead pour those financial resources into investing in underserved communities, so that the systemic issues we see start to ease.
5. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal to discriminate against employees or candidates based off of sexual orientation, which serves as a landmark case towards the fight for equality, acceptance, and protection of LGBTQ+ rights. In light of this wonderful verdict, what are some ways that you wish to bolster the health and prosperity of our LGBTQ+ communities and residents?
Yes! This Supreme Court ruling is wonderful indeed. It is true progress. We must provide resources for members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as people who want to learn more and help these communities. We need to educate our community about ways the LGBTQ+ community is at risk of suicide, mental health issues, and discrimination. This can only change is people are aware, and if we have resources in place to uplift our LGBTQ+ community members and protect them.
6. Climate change is the most pressing issue facing our world as a whole. What in your capacity will you do to make DuPage County a greener place?
We can incentivize small businesses to be green, educate the public about solar power, require reusable bags to be used for retail (and charge for plastic bags), ban plastic straws, offer composting pickup, and much more. There are many such small changes we can implement throughout the county which will have exponential effects.