New Trier Democrats’ Posts

NTD Committeeman Dean Maragos’ Primary Candidate Guide

[Editor’s note: The following post was drafted by NTD Committeeman Dean Maragos and contains his personal endorsements for the upcoming Democratic Primary. New Trier Democrats – as an organization – did not make endorsements for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner, Board of Review Commissioner or Circuit Court Judges. The candidates selected below in those races are solely the choices of Committeeman Maragos. New Trier Democrats, as an organization, voted on endorsements on January 26. The results of that Endorsement Meeting are posted here.]

Dear Fellow New Trier Democrat,

Your vote now is critical to elect the best candidates to protect our Democratic values and defeat Donald Trump in the November election. Early voting in the 2020 Presidential Primary Election is Monday, March 2, 2020 to Monday, March 16, 2020. Election Day is Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Visit the Cook County Clerk, Karen Yarbrough’s website, for information on early voting and other voting questions.

Elected Position
Candidate – Ballot #

U. S. President
No Endorsement

U.S. Senator
Dick Durbin – 21

U.S. House 9th District
Jan Schakowsky – 31

U.S. House 10th District
Brad Schneider – 31

State Rep. 17th District
Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz – 111

State Rep. 18th District
Robyn Gabel – 111

State Rep. 58th District
Bob Morgan – 111

MWRD 6-year term
M. Cameron “Cam” Davis – 125

MWRD 6-year term
Kimberly Neely Dubuclet – 126

MWRD 6-year term
Eira Corral Sepulveda – 127

Cook County State’s Attorney
No Endorsement

Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court
Michael Cabonargi – 148

Commissioner, Board of Review, 1st Dist.
Abdelnasser Rashid – 151

Illinois Supreme Court
No Endorsement – (Note: Margaret Stanton McBride, a New Trier Resident, was within 3% of receiving the New Trier Democrats endorsement)

Illinois Appellate Court (Neville vacancy)
Michael B. Hyman – 174

Illinois Appellate Court (Simon vacancy)
John Griffin – 175

Judge, Cook County Judicial Circuit

(Bellows vacancy)
Kerrie Maloney Laytin – 183

(Coghlan vacancy)
James T. Derico, Jr. – 187

(Ford vacancy)
Laura Ayala-Gonzalez – 189

(Funderburk vacancy)
Celestia L. Mays – 194

(Larsen vacancy)
Levander “Van” Smith, Jr. – 195

(Mason vacancy)
Chris Stacey – 201

(McCarthy vacancy)
Teresa Molina – 204

(Gorman vacancy)
Sheree Desiree Henry – 207

(O’Brien vacancy)
Lloyd James Brooks – 212

(Patti vacancy)
Lynn Weaver Boyle – 214

(Roti vacancy)
Araceli Reyes De La Cruz – 217

(C. Sheehan vacancy)
Maura McMahon Zeller – 220

(K. Sheehan vacancy)
Jill Rose Quinn – 222

Judge, 9th Cook County Subcircuit

(Axelrood vacancy)
Pamela “Pam” Stratigakis – 231

(Luckman vacancy)
Julie Bess Aimen – 236

Judge, 12th Cook County Subcircuit

(Hanlon vacancy)
Patricia M. Fallon – 231

For more information on the judicial candidates, visit for results of 12 bar associations who evaluate candidates’ performance and recommend who is qualified to be a judge.

Thank you for your support of the New Trier Democrats and for voting in the upcoming 2020 Democratic Primary Election on March 17 (or voting early before this date). Your vote will determine the course of our nation.

Dean T. Maragos, New Trier Democratic Committeeman

The NTD Endorsement Meeting Notes

It’s been over three months since I signed off from writing a weekly commentary. But last Sunday I attended the New Trier Dems’ Endorsement Meeting and the experience sparked some thoughts that I want to share. I won’t get into specifics about the meeting results since that’s been covered nicely in another post on our website. My thoughts have more to do with a ”refreshed” perspective that the endorsement meeting gave me.

I have to confess that over the past year, the acceptance of President Donald Trump’s behavior by large segments of the American public as well as, it seems, every Republican officeholder, gnawed at my faith in the future of our democracy. I think that was one of the reasons I needed a break from writing about this discouraging situation week after week.

The truth is, it’s hard not to feel at least a little pessimistic about the state of our nation when the daily headlines and nightly news stories consistently underscore the divisions in our democratic (small “d”) society. It can seem like there’s little hope ahead. I suspect that many of you may sometimes feel that way too.

But Sunday’s gathering reminded me that grassroots political involvement is still an estimable force. And I was also reminded that the values and goals of the Democratic Party are, more than ever, worth fighting for.

I was inspired by the team of New Trier Dem volunteers at the meeting, each focused on their specific task, all ensuring that everything would go smoothly. It’s a cooperative spirit I’ve seen time after time, canvassing for voters, at rallies, on election day. And it’s a spirit that has power.

And when I heard the candidates and their representatives make their presentations, I heard speakers who put people and justice first. — A far cry from the divisive appeals and regressive goals of the Republican Party and its candidates.

So although we aren’t living in a state that’s in the midst of a crucially important presidential primary contest or one that’s an electoral vote battleground, we need to start feeling the energy Democrats in those states are feeling.

We cannot delay getting involved in the fight against forces that would see the United States abandon its vision of a better life for every American. We cannot allow power to remain in the hands of leaders who maintain that power by seeding disharmony and mistrust between regions, races and religions. We must turn back those forces who dismiss values established by our founding fathers as no longer relevant.

Right now, here in our part of Illinois there are plenty of opportunities to become engaged in what I believe may be the most important election year in my lifetime. There are newly won Democratic congressional seats in our region that must be held, and potential Democratic voters in neighboring states who must be reached. And of course, there is a disastrous president in our White House who must be defeated.

Throughout this campaign year, the New Trier Dems, the Tenth Dems, the Democratic Party of Evanston, Sister District New Trier and the Indivisible movement will all be offering potential avenues for your involvement. A scroll through our Volunteering Opportunities page now and in the weeks to come will give you a selection of actions you can take. I hope you’ll get involved in whatever way your can.

Nels Howard, NTD Member Since 1973

New Trier Democrats’ Endorsements for the 2020 Primary

Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in New Trier Democrats’ Endorsement Meeting! We had an energizing afternoon of grassroots politics and civic participation. A special thank you to all of our volunteers who made this event a success, and to all the candidates who took time out of their busy schedules to speak to our membership.

For New Trier Democrats’ membership to endorse, a candidate had to receive at least 60% of the votes of all members present. If no candidates reached 60% on the first vote, we held a second vote between the top 2 vote-getters from the first vote. If no candidate reached 60% on the second vote, then our organization did not endorse any candidate for that office.

To be clear, “No Endorsement” means that we failed to reach 60% agreement of our membership to endorse. This result does not mean that we are unenthused about these candidates. On the contrary, this result reflects that we have many excellent candidates running for office and we simply failed to reach 60% agreement. Democrats will have wonderful candidates who will fight for all of us no matter who eventually wins the Democratic Primary for these offices.

Congratulations to all of the candidates who received our endorsement!

New Trier Democrats’ endorsements in the contested races for the March 17, 2020 Democratic Primary are: 

U.S. President
No Endorsement

Cook County State’s Attorney
No Endorsement

Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County
Michael Cabonargi

Illinois Supreme Court, 1st District
No Endorsement

Illinois 1st District Appellate Court, 1st District
John C. Griffin

Illinois 1st District Appellate Court, 3rd District
Michael Hyman

We also endorsed – by voice vote – the following Democratic candidates in uncontested primary races:

U.S. Senate
Dick Durbin

U.S. House of Representatives for the 9th District of Illinois
Jan Schakowsky

U.S. House of Representatives for the 10th District of Illinois
Brad Schneider

Illinois State Representative – 17th District
Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz

Illinois State Representative – 18th District
Robyn Gabel

Illinois State Representative – 58th District
Bob Morgan

In the interest of transparency, and to satisfy your curiosity, here are the results from the final vote for each office:

U.S. President
Joe Biden – 43%
Elizabeth Warren – 32%
Pete Buttigieg – 25%
* Warren and Buttigieg tied for 2nd place on the first vote, that’s why we had 3 candidates on the second ballot.

Cook County State’s Attorney
Kim Foxx – 56%
Bill Conway – 44%

Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County
Michael Cabonargi – 69%
Jacob Meister – 25%

Illinois Supreme Court, 1st District
Margaret Stanton McBride – 57%
Cynthia Cobbs – 40%

Illinois 1st District Appellate Court, 1st District
John C. Griffin – 64%
Sharon Johnson – 18%

Illinois 1st District Appellate Court, 3rd District
Michael Hyman – 71%
Carolyn Gallagher – 21%

A New Year’s Message From Our President

I want to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year. I hope that together in 2020, we New Trier Democrats can make a difference in the important national, state and local elections. Now more than ever we must stand together for decency, honesty and compassion.

There will be many opportunities for you to participate and you will find that when you put skin in the game, the feeling when you win is overpowering and so rewarding. I will give you an example: this summer I worked with Sister District to send post cards to help turn the Virginia House of Delegates Blue…We did it…Such fun meeting new people, so easy just writing postcards, and the results were so important. Now Virginia could finally get the ERA amendment passed.

Our newsletter, website and facebook page will keep you informed of many chances to participate in voter registration. Fighting voter suppression by identifying our voters and turning out the vote both in Illinois and across the border in Wisconsin will be crucial. Wisconsin is being identified as winnable and we can use those electoral votes. In our events listing page, there are opportunities to become a deputy voter registrar in Illinois or help get out the vote in Wisconsin by phone banking, writing postcards, or canvassing to make sure voters get their proper Wisconsin voter identification.

Our first event in 2020 is our Endorsement Meeting on Sunday, January 26th at Winnetka Community House – see our events page for further details. I urge all of you to join us to help support our candidates in 2020. Also, if you live in New Trier Township and are a NTD member, you are entitled to vote at the meeting and to speak for a particular candidate.

We have many events planned and we will be handing out palm cards listing our 2020 events.

I look forward to this year and its challenges. Hopefully, if we all work together and join hands and hearts for a better country for ourselves and our children we will attain this goal.

Judy Mandel, NTD President

A Special Message From Our Committeeman

Exactly 57 years ago, the United States was involved in the greatest crisis in history – The Cuban Missile Crisis. At stake was not only the cause of freedom in the world, but also annihilation of the human race. The Russian Premier Khruschev wanted to destabilize NATO, the balance of power in the western hemisphere and American foreign policy and influence by placing medium range nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba. President Kennedy knowing the Russian premier’s objectives knew he had to directly confront the Premier to preserve the nation and world.

The entire U.S. military, wanting to make up for the Bay of Pigs debacle, proposed to invade Cuba, oust Castro and remove the missiles. President Kennedy, knowing the strong possibility of nuclear war if there was an invasion of Cuba, courageously defied the military’s immense pressure for an invasion. On October 22, 1962, President Kennedy gave his famous address on the crisis warning the Russians of the American resolve to have them remove the missiles from Cuba or face the dire consequences.

The President chose a blockade of the island and not an invasion. The President eliminated Khruschev’s nuclear threat by having the missiles removed from Cuba and thus avoiding worldwide annihilation. The Russians were defeated by a courageous President whose loyalty was to the nation and having no other motive. It was America’s finest hour.

Today we are engaged in another crisis of great magnitude with the Russians. President Putin again wants to destabilize NATO, the balance of power in the world and American foreign policy and influence in the world. However now we have a President who is the agent for the Russian government and not against the Russians as is his sworn oath to the nation.

When asked about proven intelligence reports that Putin interfered with the 2016 American election, Trump sided with Putin and accepted Putin’s simple denial. When the Russian ally – President Erdogan of Turkey – informed Trump that Russia and Erdogan wanted Trump to remove American troops from Syria to allow the Turks to eliminate our allies the Kurds, Trump gladly accommodated Putin and Erdogan and immediately removed the American troops that were the only protection for our allies the Kurds. Trump’s betrayal not only completely changed the balance of power in that region but sent a profound warning to all of America’s allies that at a moment’s notice Trump would betray them the same way he betrayed the Kurds to assist America’s enemies.

Trump’s betrayal however united the members of Congress in a rare display of political courage not seen in Washington for a very long time. In a truly monumental act, Republican and Democratic members of Congress recently united against Trump and voted 354 to 60 to condemn Trump’s betrayal of our Kurdish and other regional allies and destabilization of the balance of power in the region. Trump’s betrayal in the opinion of a bipartisan Congress was clearly against American interests and a violation of his oath of office to protect the nation.

Putin is now the most powerful man in the region and he has been invited to meet with all the major powers in the region who realize that Putin is now calling the shots on American military and economic power – NOT Trump!

As in October, 1962, it is again time for courageous political figures in our nation to defend our nation’s interests both internal and abroad. Let us now answer the clarion call to stop Trump and Putin by every legal means available to us. This crisis again threatens our freedom and safety.

Trump must be removed from office either by impeachment and conviction or voted out of office in 2020. We cannot and will not tolerate this despicable character to again betray our nation any longer. As Leo Amery, a British Member of Parliament spoke in the May, 1940 session against the Prime Minister of England Neville Chamberlain, as appeaser of Hitler, “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” Chamberlain resigned within days of Amery’s admonition. Hopefully Trump will follow Chamberlain’s lead.

Dean T. Maragos, New Trier Township Committeeman

A Special Message From Our President

I want to first of all wish all our members a happy holiday season. As we end this year and enter 2020, we will be embarking upon a very critical period for our country. We will be looking as Democrats for candidates in the Primary to fill State, County, Congressional and Senatorial seats as well as Judgeships.

But most critically we will be looking to nominate a candidate for President who can defeat Donald Trump. That will not be decided for sometime and many of us are supporting different candidates at this time.

There are buttons being circulated by the Tenth Dems which say “Democrat for President 2020.” I am hoping that when we head to the ballot box in November 2020, we remember that we vote for whichever Democratic candidate wins our party’s nomination.

As members of the New Trier Democrats who live in New Trier Township, you will be able to cast your ballot for the candidate you want our organization to endorse in the March 17, 2020 Democratic Primary. Our endorsement gives candidates support for their campaigns, use of our office and the use of our name in their literature.

We hope that you will attend our Endorsement Meeting on Sunday, January 26th. The information for this event is listed below, as well as on our website and Facebook. I hope that you will consider renewing your membership or becoming a member and attending this important event. I look forward to seeing you there.

Judy Mandel

President, New Trier Democrats


A Call To Arms

“For one true measure of a nation is its success in fulfilling the promise of a better life for each of its members. Let this be the measure of our nation” President John F. Kennedy, February 27, 1962, Special Message to the Congress 

This is the founding principle of our nation – to improve the human condition for all Americans no matter what their social or economic status. Yet today we are witnessing the degradation of our society at the hands of a man – Donald Trump – whose sole purpose in his holding the office of President of the United States is his own greed and self-aggrandizement. He has betrayed his oath of office to be loyal only to the best interests of the nation and its citizens. 

He is systematically destroying women’s rights, the overturn of Roe v. Wade, destroying the environment by allowing lower standards of pollution control, encouraging far right extremist groups, doing the bidding of dictators such as Putin and President Erdogan of Turkey, betrayed our allies in NATO and the Kurds among others. He has used the State Department officials in Ukraine to become his political henchman. We are now witnessing impeachment proceedings against this despicable demagogue.

 We all agree that our nation is in a dire state of peril. You may be asking what can I do to stop Trump and get the nation on the right path again. The answer is JOIN the New Trier Democrats in our winning plan to oust Trump from office and regain control of the three branches of government. This is our Call to Arms! 

Last year due to our New Trier team’s work we elected a Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker and maintained our Democratic majority in both the State Senate and House. Yet perhaps our greatest victories were in our local Congressional elections as we added 2 more new Congressional representatives to Congress: Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood in addition to our other outstanding representatives Jan Schakowsky and Brad Schneider and we have taken back the U.S. Congress. 

On January 26, 2020 at 1:30 pm at the Winnetka Community House we have our formal endorsement session in which you as a New Trier Democratic member can speak and vote for your candidate of choice from the race for President of the United States, to Cook County State’s Attorney, Cook County Clerk of the Court and the Illinois Supreme & Appellate Court. 

The Political Momentum is on our side! We have seen Trump get soundly defeated in Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana – supposed Trump strongholds. We need to take back the U.S. Senate and the White House in 2020.

The Fight Starts Now. Join us to defeat Donald Trump and all that he stands for. Become members for as little at $50. Join us on our work with the Democratic Party in Wisconsin and our work here in the Casten and Underwood districts. We are now establishing our 2020 strategy and urge you to join us in the implementation of our strategy for total victory in November, 2020. 

All of the funds we collect at the New Trier Democratic Organization are used only for political races and events supporting our candidates and causes we believe are important to our community. 

The choice is yours. Join us to defeat Trump or watch while he wins again in 2020 and destroys the America we know and love. Call us at (847) 446-8030 or email us to join our team. I know together we can beat Trump and fulfill President Kennedy’s charge to us to assist our fellow citizens in fulfilling a better life for all.

Thank you for your critical support in our battle. 

Dean T. Maragos, Committeeman


In Memoriam, Dr. Jack Melamed

Dr. Jack and Marcia Melamed (far left) at Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s Ultimate Women’s Power Lunch in May, 2019.

It is with great sorrow that I have learned of the passing of New Trier Democrats’ long-time member and political activist, Dr. Jack Melamed. When I first became involved with New Trier Democrats in 2005-06 through the Dan Seals campaign, I met Jack and his lovely wife, Marcia. They were great supporters of not only our organization but of Dan Seals and, later on, one of the first supporters of Barack Obama. Jack and Marcia were great about volunteering their time in our organization and were generous in their financial support. In recent years they moved to The Mather in Evanston. I was fortunate to spend some time talking with both Jack and Marcia at Jan Schakowsky’s BBQ this past summer.

Jack will be greatly missed and I ask that you please join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to Marcia Melamed and her family. 

Judy Mandel – President, New Trier Democrats

After Ten Years, “It’s A Wrap!”

A bit more than ten years ago I began putting together a newsletter for our New Trier Dems organization. From the start, the primary purpose of the NTD News was to pass on information about events and opportunities that would be of interest to Democrats and Independents living in or near New Trier. Especially those who believe in the power of grassroots political participation. And that is still its purpose today

However, even in those early versions of our NTD News , I found myself writing a brief preface each week to set up those featured events, often encouraging some sort of action.

As the longtime readers among you know, those brief introductions eventually developed into full-blown essays — some much longer than I had planned, and probably longer than any of you wanted. You have my sincere apology for those times when my wordiness got the best of me.

But let’s face it. In the years I’ve been doing these commentaries, there’s been a tsunami of political subjects to get wordy about: The foolishness of George W. Bush, and the evilness of his Svengali Dick Cheney, recurring mass shootings and the insane proliferation of guns in America, the degradation of the world’s environment and the existential threat of climate change, blatant voter suppression in the North as well as the South., the erosion of women’s rights, the cowardice of Republican legislators afraid to do what’s best for our democracy, Vladimir Putin’s mysterious hold over our president…just think how much longer this wordy list could be!

And of course in recent years the most repeated subject for so many of my commentaries has been President Donald J. Trump, a narcissistic, sociopathic demagogue who is quite possibly the dumbest, most ill-equipped, destructive and dangerous president our nation has ever endured. I’m sure I’ve set a personal record for my use of the thesaurus in search of pejorative descriptors for this guy. No number of negative words can do him justice, although there is one word that might — impeachment.

With all that said, on a positive note I also want to point out that over those years, there have been political stories that have inspired us and kept us all hopeful for a better future. Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 was no small feat. Then we saw the defeat of the last remaining Republican legislators representing any part of New Trier. In fact, our region is now blue all the way to the Wisconsin border. The mobilization of suburban women and the Democratic victories across America in 2018 have been a sign of positive things to come — if we Democrats all stay engaged. The energetic new Democratic voices in our U.S. Congress and among our Springfield legislators should fill us with hope. It’s all good stuff.

I know there is plenty more to talk about entering 2020. But as you can probably tell from the tone of my musings, I’ve decided I’m not going to be the person doing it. At least, not so publicly.

Perhaps it’s because I have a milestone birthday coming up that has me thinking about making new commitments and taking new paths. It could also be that I know a weekly commentary in a political world as polarized as ours can freeze a writer into rigid stances. After awhile the points a writer makes begin to sound redundant. Or, my retreat from the weekly ritual of a political commentary could simply be the result of Trump fatigue. Thinking deeply each week about issues being impacted by such a negative force is tiring, to say the least.

I still do plan to be communicating during the upcoming election year as I ring doorbells or write postcards for Democratic candidates. And who knows? There may be an event, a candidate, an issue next year that inspires a personal observation I feel I must share with all of you. In a year as wild as 2020 will be, that could very likely happen.

So now I want to say, “thank you,’” to people who have made my weekly efforts easier than they might have otherwise been: In the earliest days, longtime NTD leaders Joan Berman and Peggy Slater kept me confident I was on the right track. And throughout the press of completing these weekly newsletters I always knew I could ask for help and get it from our NTD President, Judy Mandel and before her, President Priscilla Sperling. I also knew that our NTD office managers, particularly the late, great Sharon Suzda and our present Office Manager Joan Fishman, could always be counted on for help when I asked. And, a couple election cycles ago, NTD Executive Board member Dan O’Brien took over the job of assembling the “news and events” portion of the NTD News , so I could have time to concentrate solely on commentary. (Dan also revamped the newsletter’s entire design to give it a contemporary Internet look.) — Thanks, to you all.

Finally, I want to thank each person who, over the years, took the time to tell me they enjoyed something I’d written. Some of you were old friends, some were people I had never met. You should all know your encouragement has meant a lot to me.

Nels Howard, NTD Member Since 1973

Politically Passive Is An Oxymoron

The other day I read an article on a financial website that discussed the increasing popularity of “passive” investment funds — specifically mutual funds that represent an entire major stock index such as the S&P 500. Because such funds include shares in all the stocks listed in an index, the fund’s value is dictated by the movement of the entire market. This requires minimal fund management. Oversight is “passive” so management fees are miniscule, hence the popularity.

I started today’s commentary with that financial anecdote because it got me thinking about how appealing it is to find an approach to any situation that only requires passive involvement. Then I thought about that adjective, “passive.” It’s relaxing. It sounds so peaceful and benign — yet in some situations it can be a destructive activity. Doing nothing is doing something. Just look at the 2010 and 2014 election years when too many Democrats stayed home from the polls and we ended up with years of congressional Republican obstruction.

These thoughts led to another aspect of that investment article that struck me as also worth mentioning. We all look for ways to protect and enhance whatever assets we accumulate in our lives. And yet, perhaps the most precious assets we Americans have is our Constitution and Bill of Rights — and the democracy and equality they protect. Many of us take this valuable legacy for granted. And yet, year to year it requires our attention and our involvement. We must never allow an erosion of our democracy that squanders an inheritance that took two and a half centuries to build.

At last Sunday’s NTD Annual Dinner, I was reassured that this battle to protect our Constitutional legacy is not being conceded to the far right. Our Dinner’s guest speakers, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood and Congressman Sean Casten, came to congress in 2018 as a result of hard fought, grassroots campaigns involving hundreds of volunteers. Their words at the Dinner made it clear that they plan to fight even harder to hold on to their congressional seats against an onslaught of right wing money. (We can expect tough challenges to some of our state office holders too.)

So, “passive” is not a word we should even consider as we go into 2020. Democrats, across the country, certainly were not passive in 2018. That momentum has stayed with us. Let’s keep it going.

Scroll down this page and you’ll see a number of opportunities to get involved in meaningful activities. It’s not too early to begin. (The Republicans already have.) And, however you choose to become involved, you will make a difference. Politically, passive never wins.

Nels Howard, NTD Member Since 1973

P.S.The financial article I mentioned above did warn of some potential dangers that may be inherent in passive funds. You can google “passive investing bubble” if you’re interested. It’s worth a read.