Democrat Statehouse hopeful betting taxpayer-funded abortion, property tax hikes popular with DuPage voters
She’s nearly 20 years older than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, the New York "Democratic Socialist" phenom fresh off the year’s biggest political upset.
But in her quest to win a seat in the Illinois House, Glen Ellyn lawyer and political activist Terra Costa Howard is using the Ocasio-Cortes playbook, both in style and in substance.
Howard is tirelessly knocking on DuPage County doors, determined to work harder and wear out more pairs of shoes than her opponent, incumbent State Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard).
She’s also unabashedly touting far-left policies historically unpopular, if not anathema, to the upper-middle-class voters of her district.
Democrats once tiptoed around their support for higher property taxes and taxpayer-funded abortion. Howard believes they are winning issues and has made them central to her campaign platform.
On “Occupod DuPage,” a public affairs podcast hosted by two socialist-minded Glen Ellyn college students, Howard said this month that Breen's opposition to House Bill 40, which requires Illinois taxpayers to pay for abortions through the full nine months of pregnancy for any reason, is what compelled her to run against him.
"We should be afraid," she said, describing Breen's view that taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for abortions, as "scary."
Howard also emphasized her support for raising teacher and administrator salaries at Glen Ellyn schools, pondering with teenage hosts Maggie Micklo and Hadiya Azal how to convince “empty nester” district residents to support higher property taxes.
“It’s all about community engagement,” Howard said.
Howard served on the Glen Ellyn School District 41 School Board between 2005 and 2013.
Glen Ellyn property values fell 19 percent, inflation adjusted, between 2007 and 2015, according to an analysis by Local Government Information Services. District 41 spending rose 97 percent over that period.
Effective property tax rates in Glen Ellyn were 2.87 percent, according to a Chicago Tribune report. That's approximately three times the national average.
The 48th District includes most of Glen Ellyn and Lombard, the eastern part of Wheaton, and sections of Lisle, Downers Grove and Oak Brook Terrace.