Student issues top board member’s list

By Paul Kirk

A Democratic DeKalb County Board member wants NIU students to know there’s another political choice other than Republican in heavily conservative DeKalb County.

Thomas Gary, 22, is an NIU student and the incumbent board member for the DeKalb County, District 6, which encompasses the west side of NIU.

He said he considers the student vote extremely crucial to his reelection and to fair representation of NIU on the county board and the state.

“If students live in the residence halls or apartments, as far as the state is concerned, they’re residents of DeKalb. We all spend money up here, go to bars, buy pizza and pay a 9 percent restaurant and liquor tax,” Gary said.

Students should care about how much they’re charged on property and food taxes because students spend the better part of four years in the DeKalb area spending their own money, he said.

“When decisions are made in government and there is no concern over the impact on students, one should not be surprised,” he said.

Gary said more students need to take an active role in local government but delude themselves into thinking they are a superfluous piece of the political puzzle.

“When more students begin to vote (in the elections) and sit on the county board, then we will begin to take control of our own destiny,” Gary said.

Students need to look out for themselves and their predecessors. If students begin to take an active role in local politics, it will have a direct relationship on state funding for NIU, he said.

The students should see themselves as a “class.” NIU is a common bond crossing social and political barriers, he said.

Gary said although the board runs smoothly, officials must lobby state representatives for the county’s needs.

“Elected officials in the county need to talk to state officials,” Gary said. “Individuals in the county are doing this now, but we need to do this as a collective. We need to press the needs of the people in DeKalb County.”

“A slogan is great, but it does nothing if you don’t back up your plan,” he said.

Gary said he considers the county as one of the most efficient and thoughtful county governments in the state, but he also expressed room for improvement.

“There are people on the board who try very hard for the students, but there’s a general feeling of ambivalence to the student population,” he said.

Gary said taxes have been an issue in the county since 1990, and that it will probably be an issue this year.

“We should influence our assembly to make fundamental changes in the way the tax system is implemented. Something that is fair and equitable to the people,” he said.

Gary said he kept his pledge not to raise taxes last year no matter what the cost.

“If you promise something, you do it,” he said.

Gary was born in New York and lived on the south side of Chicago until 1986 when he moved to DeKalb. He is currently enrolled as a senior political science major.