KCDW 2024 Election of Officers for Two-Year Term

On January 20. 2024, the Kane County Democratic Women held its annual meeting and installation of officers. Martha Hanna, the Nominating Chair, introduced the officers, who were unanimously elected by the members present. The 2024-2026 officers are Carolyn Bird Salazar, Chair; Cherryl Strathmann, Vice Chair; Lois Swatscheno, Treasurer; and Kim Young, Secretary. 

2024 KCDW Board Members

Following the installation, Carolyn summarized the activities and accomplishments of KCDW during the past year and motivated our members to achieve even more during this election year. Carolyn began by saying that “Hope is not a strategy,” and we have to put our desires into action to motivate voters to come out and elect our candidates. This includes making phone calls, mailing postcards, dropping off literature at voters’ homes, and supporting our fundraisers. Since 2016, democrats have known that Trump is a threat to democracy and our freedom, and he continues to confirm that threat in his campaign speeches.

Some actions we plan to take this year are conducting two educational forums, held in April and July, to educate the public about current topics, and two fundraisers, held in April and September, to raise money for our member candidates. Dan Barreiro and Deb Fisher are co-chairs of the Candidate Action Committee and will be organizing members to canvas over the phone and in person to get democrats to the polls. In addition, our member candidates will be speaking at our meetings to tell us about their campaigns and ways we can help. Several candidate biographies will also appear in each newsletter, so our members have the information they need about candidates as they canvas. And this year offers an exciting opportunity: some of our members have volunteered to work at the Democratic National Convention (August 19-22), and there are more spaces for volunteers. Carolyn concluded her speech by reminding us that “every little bit helps.” Even if we help for an hour or two, it brings more voters to the polls.

Congresswoman Underwood

Carolyn then introduced our featured speaker, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, Representative for the  IL 14th District, and a member of KCDW. On January 3, 2019, Lauren was sworn into office as the first person of color to represent the 14th District and the youngest Black woman to serve in Congress at that time. She has had 14 pieces of legislation signed into law since she took office. Lauren has worked tirelessly for good healthcare for everyone, which covers pre-existing conditions. She wrote the Health Care Affordability Act , which was signed into law as part of the American Rescue Plan and has been extended through the Inflation Reduction Act. This act limits healthcare costs to 8 1/2% of income for families who enroll through the Marketplace and has been so popular that 20 million people signed up this year. Lauren co-founded the Black Maternal Health Caucus because of her concern about the high mortality rate of Black mothers, and she wrote the Protecting Moms Who Served Act, to address maternal mortality of service members. To confront the mental health crisis in the public schools along with the lack of available counseling, Lauren obtained over $1 million for colleges in the 14th district to set up mental health counseling programs for school counselors.

Presently, Lauren is co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and serves on the House Appropriations Committee on Homeland Security. Recently, Lauren Underwood, Bill Foster, and Sean Casten wrote a letter to President Joe Biden expressing the need for federal funds in IL to assist with the asylum seekers. They are also working with Governor Pritzker and Dick Durbin to find solutions to help the migrants. Lauren explained that border states such as Texas and New Mexico receive federal funds to provide assistance and shelter to asylum seekers, but even though migrants are being sent to Illinois and New York by bus and plane from Texas, these funds have not been sent to states receiving the migrants. Lauren supports comprehensive immigration reform and the approval of a pathway to citizenship, but federal funds are urgently needed to address this humanitarian crisis and safety concerns.

When asked about what she does to relax, Lauren said that she comes home every weekend to meet with constituents and to spend time with her family. She loves to garden and picks vegetables as part of a community garden membership during the summer months. Lauren’s district includes both urban and rural areas, including large family farms. She visited farms in the 14th and 11th districts in 2023 to learn the needs and concerns of farmers and ensure “our rural economy is strong, and the great partnerships at the federal level …. and the programs out of USDA are meeting” the needs of IL farmers.

Lauren summarized what the Democratic Party has accomplished during the last three years. President Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and 14 million jobs have been created, including jobs that promote energy efficiency and less pollution. Millions of people who were uninsured now have good healthcare. The economy is doing well, and inflation is coming down. Lauren emphasized that all democrats need to vote in this election, and we cannot leave any vacancies on the ballot at any level, including the local level. Local elections can have a major influences on our lives and the lives of our children. The far right has begun to take over local positions such as school board and library board positions. This has led to banning books in schools and public libraries and eliminating facts about American history from our textbooks. It is up to us to save our democracy for ourselves and for our children. The world is watching to see if America can be trusted to be the leader and example it has been for over 200 years. We are in a battle to save America for ourselves and for the world.