DuPage Dems Difference Maker – Gary Kleppe
In Gary’s own words…
I started getting involved in local politics shortly after moving to
Illinois around the turn of the millennium. I participated in a local
progressive Democrats group and volunteered for Dennis Kucinich’s
campaign for president and for Christine Cegelis as she worked to
replace noted Republican pecksniff Henry Hyde. Christine introduced me
to York Township Democratic Organization then-Chair Doug Cole. As a
Precinct Committeeorganism in YTDO I was a major organizer for a
Congressional primary candidate forum, more or less single-handedly
built a fully functional web site for the group, and was voted PC of the
Year in 2007. I was also a founding member of Operation: Turn DuPage
Blue which worked to strengthen the county organization.
In 2008 I was elected First Vice Chair of YTDO. In 2012 I was asked to
run for Chair by both incumbent YTDO Chair Carol B. Davis and county
Chair Bob Peickert, who at that time agreed on very little else. I was
elected and served as YTDO Chair for six years until someone else was
ready to take it over. My vision for YTDO was (and still is) as a
bottom-up organization where the leaders listen to and serve the values
of the membership at large. The party organization should be there not
only to get our candidates elected but to push them towards fulfilling
the interests of the voters and not big-money donors.
Outside of YTDO, I’ve also been involved with Illinois Ballot Integrity
Project, promoting election systems that are transparent and verifiable.
I’ve been on the ballot as a Bernie Sanders delegate in 2016 and will be
again in 2020. I live in Villa Park with my wife Nayana, an election
judge, and son Ted, whom we frequently drag to meetings but who at age
13 can’t be a Precinct Committeebeing (that’s much too old).