DeKALB – Eileen Dubin of DeKalb describes herself as a woman that’s had two careers.
Dubin first came to DeKalb in 1965 with her husband, Martin David Dubin, a professor in the political science department of Northern Illinois University. Eileen, a self-described career librarian, worked at NIU’s library for 15 years before working at other college libraries in Illinois, New Jersey and Ohio. Before retiring, she started a telecommunications business in 1993, a business she ran for about eight years.
Dubin’s second career began after her husband passed away in 1999. Before his death, Martin was heavily involved in politics and was the chair of the DeKalb County Democratic Party from 1968 to 1978 and from 1998 until his death. At one point, he even ran for governor.
As the wife of a local politician, Eileen helped fundraise and hosted many guests at her home, including President Jimmy Carter when he was running for office, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Congressman Paul Simon.
Dubin took over as DeKalb County Democratic chair from 2000 to 2012 and was on the DeKalb County Board from 2000 to 2010.
In July, Dubin will move to California to be closer to family. Before her move, Dubin met with MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton to discuss her two careers and why she believes it is important to be involved in local politics.
Milton: Tell me about yourself.
Dubin: I grew up in the Bronx, and I was a pre-social work major at Hunter College. I met my husband when we were both in college, even though he went to City College. We moved to Indiana when he was working on his doctorate at Indiana University, then we moved to Chicago. We moved to DeKalb in 1965, and my husband was a professor in the political science department of NIU. My son and daughter were still young children at the time. We lived in an apartment, and then we built our house in 1968. DeKalb was a quite different environment at the time. The university was growing very rapidly.
Milton: How did you get involved in politics?
Dubin: My husband was the chair of DeKalb County’s Democratic Party from 1968 to 1978, then again in 1998 until his death in 1999. We were both always active in the Democratic Party, but after my husband passed away, the vice chair was on sabbatical in Europe. I kind of fell into the position of chair, and was the chair from 2000 to 2012. … I really only became heavily involved in local politics after my husband’s death in 1999. I was a career librarian. Before, I helped him fundraise, but he was the one involved with politics. We had a lot of people come over to the house through the years, including Jimmy Carter when he was running for office, Dick Durbin and Paul Simon.
Milton: Why did you decide to take over as chair?
Dubin: It was important to build up the Democratic Party in DeKalb because party numbers were dwindling. At the time, in 2000, only four of the 24 county board members were Democrats. When I left in 2012, there were 12 Democrats. I just thought the community should have choices when voting and candidates who have different perspectives on a number of issues.
Milton: What has changed in local politics over the years?
Dubin: DeKalb County has changed drastically, and the Democratic Party itself has changed quite a bit over the years. Also, there’s more political activity in DeKalb County. There’s a lot more activity locally on the Democratic side than the Republican side, which is somewhat unusual for the county.
Milton: What are your goals for the future?
Dubin: I’ll be moving in July to California. I have family in California, including three granddaughters. I’m not sure if I’ll get involved with politics there, but I will continue to always be a good citizen. I look forward to meeting new people, making friends and having new experiences. I definitely have mixed feelings about leaving DeKalb because it is my home. I’m sad to leave, but I’m looking forward to the future.