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Young Alumnus Elected Mayor of Des Plaines

Matt Bogusz becomes youngest mayor in Northwest suburbs of Chicago

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April 11, 2013 | by Matt Paolelli

Matt Bogusz

When Matt Bogusz graduated a couple quarters early from Northwestern University, he didn’t spend the extra time relaxing or taking a trip around the world. Instead, he immediately began running a campaign to become alderman of the 3rd Ward in his hometown of Des Plaines, Ill. He won the election with 73 percent of the vote and became an alderman at the age of 22.

This week Bogusz’s career in local politics reached a new height. The 2009 graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences was elected mayor of Des Plaines -- making him, at the age of 26, the youngest mayor in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

“There’s no class for local politics, but Northwestern teaches you how to think,” Bogusz said. “I’ve continued to pull all-nighters prepping for city council meetings, so I guess that’s a learned skill.”

By day, Bogusz works as an associate director in advertising at a media agency. But his political interests take up much of his extracurricular time. He served as chairman of the finance committee for the past two years of his aldermanic term and said he is focused on continuing to fix the city’s financial situation as mayor.

“In 2009, the city of Des Plaines was financially broken, and I’ve invested a great deal of my first four years working to undo a lot of the damage that had been done,” he said. “I’m proud to say that today we’re far better stewards of tax dollars, and we’re working to do more with less.”

Bogusz cut his political teeth at Northwestern, serving as executive vice president of the Associated Student Government (ASG). He also met his fiancée Kate Pascale (Weinberg ’08) through his time in ASG. As if running a mayoral campaign wasn’t hectic enough, the couple plans to marry in August.

Although he was born and raised in Des Plaines, Bogusz said he didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming mayor of his hometown.

“You don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into until you put your name on the ballot,” he said.

While opponents questioned his youth, Bogusz said it served as a tremendous asset, as he had energetic friends who were willing to go door to door seeking supporters throughout the winter months, and he was able to leverage social media to gain more support and communicate with voters.

“People ask me how I can connect with senior citizens, because Des Plaines has a large senior population, and I always say, ‘Well, I hope to be a senior one day,’” Bogusz said. “We all have something in common, and we all have the same interests in ensuring that Des Plaines has a bright future.”

When Bogusz begins his mayoral term, he’ll have some Wildcat company. In the same election, Joanna Sojka (Weinberg ’07, SESP ’10) was elected alderwoman of the 7th Ward of Des Plaines.

Topics: People