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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-11-25
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Marge Paul earns four more years in Berwyn
Out and elected in the suburbs
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times

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She proved her 2009 election as 3rd Ward alderman in Berwyn was no fluke, winning re-election despite a snowstorm that blanketed the area on Feb. 26.

The storm was fitting, as Marge Paul's first term also included three major floods and a blizzard.

"I am thrilled," Paul said. "I ran with some marvelous people in 2009, and certainly relied on their campaign structure to help me out and give me the [best] way of going about doing it. This year, I ran with a small, independent party—the Independent Voters of Berwyn—but, unfortunately, that [group] kind of disbanded, and I was left [to] campaign on my own."

So she relied on two classes she's taken from Wellstone which, as its website boasts, is "the premier training center for the progressive movement."

"I learned [through the Wellstone classes] how to be my own campaign manager, be a better candidate, and more," Paul said. "I used all of the advice that they gave in those two workshops, and was successful."

Paul, 57, grew up in Detroit and moved to suburban Crete in 1979. She has lived in Berwyn for 30 years and been with her partner, MaryLu Hahn, an attorney, for 33 years, and they have two dogs.

Also an attorney, Paul has worked as an administrative assistant at a property management company in Oak Brook since last July.

Paul represents about 5,000 Berwyn residents, where her alderman duties often include calls about the stray animals, graffiti on garages, the lack of garbage pickup and more.

"I had a lot of neighbors ask me to run again; they felt I had done a good job representing them and were proud of the work that I had done," Paul said.

That led to decision-time for Paul—run as an independent, or as a democrat?

She went the democrat route and won the late February voting

The general election in Berwyn is April 9, and Paul is unopposed.

"I'm grateful that my neighbors came out in a snowstorm," and voted, she said. "I'm still getting lots of calls and emails from neighbors, to congratulate me."

And Paul is planning to meet with many of those same neighbors—"to hear what their hopes and dreams are for the next four years, [and] to see how I can help them come true," she said. "I'm looking forward to the next four years."

Paul said Berwyn's LGBT community is ever-expanding, especially in her ward. "This is a very attractive part of Berwyn [for LGBT, those] with or without families," she said. "I am a pretty visible part of the community, and they're proud of me, and that makes me proud.

"My neighbors know MaryLu, and they accept us. Those neighbors who just learn that I am a lesbian, well, they don't have a problem with it."

Paul received 66 percent of the vote.

"It's very gratifying to know that, in Berwyn, [LGBT] are just part of the bunch," Paul said. "I have wonderful neighbors. We have the kind of neighborhood that people talked about back in the 1950s, where neighbors invite you over [to their house] for dinner, and [there are regular, well-attended] parties in people's backyards."

Still, Paul said gay Berwyn wasn't always as accepting. Twenty years ago, things were different, she said. "It was an unfortunate time because we had people in Berwyn who thought there were no gays or lesbians who lived in town; we weren't a cohesive group then," she said. "Now, the business community is very supportive and truly embraces the LGBT community."

The Berwyn Development Corporation, which helps local business development, has gone to Northalsted Market Days for years to promote Berwyn to the LGBT community.

Paul said she has "many families in close proximity to my home that also are LGBT." In fact, gay neighbors recently had a well-attended civil union. "That was remarkable, something that I'm sure many thought never would happen in Berwyn," Paul said. "The culture here has considerably changed over the past 25 or 30 years. Berwyn is becoming much more diverse and much more inclusive. People should come check us out."

So, will Paul and Hahn get married, if the bill passes in Illinois?

"We're keeping an eye on Springfield and hoping very much that the marriage act passes. It certainly would make our legal life much easier," Paul said.

See related story, Gay Evanston pol eyes re-election, here:

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