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Daily Chronicle editor Kelsey Rettke sat down with DeKalb County Board candidates running to represent District 1 (Franklin, Malta, Mayfield, Milan, South Grove, Shabbona, Paw Paw and Sycamore townships), District 2 (Genoa and Kingston townships), District 3 (Cortland and Sycamore townships) and District 4 (Cortland and Sycamore townships).
“I’m running because I feel like I’m very much in touch with our district,” she said. “I bring a lot of focus and dedication to serving the community.”
Like most of her fellow candidates, Simpson cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a crucial challenge this year, and said she’s most worried about emphasizing personal responsibility in the matter.
She said she supports the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office’s efforts and believes police shouldn’t be asked to go on every call, especially if it’s nonviolent.
“If it’s noncriminal activity, or if it’s just a situation that is awkward but not dangerous or criminal, we shouldn’t be sending the police to that,” Simpson said. “They have much more important things to do, and it seems like a real waste of time and effort of their valuable skills.”
Kathleen Lampkins, District 1, Republican
Kathleen Lampkins has lived in DeKalb County for 45 years and soon will be retiring from the DeKalb County Circuit Clerk’s Office, where she’s worked as the chief information officer.
“I’m running because I feel like I have a lot to offer.” she said. “This is my opportunity to give back.”
She said she believes the DeKalb County Health Department has “done an excellent job” in educating the community on health and safety protocols during the pandemic, and heralded the DeKalb County Nursing and Rehab Center for its efforts, too.
She said she believes the county’s department heads have done “a great job” organizing responsible budgets and supports funding the DeKalb County Sheriff’s office.
“I’m very interested in the safety of our children,” she said. “I feel we need to adequately staff and fund the sheriff’s department.”
Christi Slavenas, District 2, Democrat
Christi Slavenas has lived in Genoa for more than 30 years and raised her family there. She’s a retired teacher with 36 years and currently serves on the Kishwaukee Valley Heritage Society board.
“I have a good insight into how all these different agencies keep the county going,” Slavenas said. “I have a reputation of being able to listen to both sides and use that to help solve problems so that everybody feels like they’re heard.”
She said she feels DeKalb County has done a good job of mitigating COVID-19 spread throughout the pandemic.
“Our No. 1 job is safety,” she said. “It’s really not about taking rights away from people; it’s about sacrifice. We need to sacrifice to keep other people safe sometimes. And this is one of those times we just call on people to step up.”
She said she thinks if there was room to cut in the County Board budget, past boards would have done so already.
“Most of the money in the county budget goes to people, to paying salaries and keeping people employed,” she said.
Joshua Orr, District 3, Democrat
Joshua Orr is a 20-year resident of DeKalb County, and spent 15 years working for the Kane County Circuit Clerk’s office.
He said while efforts to contain the virus locally have been good, mitigations being imposed on Region 1 to limit resurgence expected to begin Saturday are “unfortunate, but its probably the right call.”
“It’s unfortunate, I personally want to be able to eat indoors and enjoy all the things, but until we get it under control, we’ve got to make the hard decisions,” he said.
Orr said he’d like the County Board to look for additional ways to support the medical community and ensure adequate personal protective equipment is provided to front-line workers.
He said he believes the only wiggle room in the county budget is perhaps the emergency fund.
“I, too, would be a bit nervous about drawing that down, but it is a historic crisis,” he said. “And that’s kind of what the rainy day fund is for.”
Patrick Deutsch, District 3, Republican
Patrick Deutsch is a lifelong resident of Sycamore and runs a dairy farm operation north of Sycamore with his brother.
“Being a farmer, I’m a small business man,” he said. “I have an idea of what it takes to balance your budget and keep things going. I like to think of myself as being approachable. I decided to run for County Board to be a voice of reason.”
He said he lives close to the Plank Road corridor which he uses for farming equipment, and would like to concentrate on public safety and roads on the County Board.
He said he’s doesn’t support the County Board telling the sheriff’s office how to use their funds.
“It’s a tough job. Could we find some more funding for mental health professionals to help with that?” Deutsch said. “That would be the one thing that I could see trying to find some funding. But I’m really not a proponent of dictating to the county sheriff where his funding is going to go.”
Amber Quitno, District 4, Democrat
Amber Quitno said she can trace her DeKalb County roots back to 1883, and has a lot of pride living in Sycamore.
“I feel like it’s my time to step up and give back to the community,” she said. “I want to bring another level of transparency and accountability in communicating with the constituents, and want to make sure that Sycamore remains a safe place to call home.”
She said she’d like to refocus DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office efforts on violence crime, child predators and domestic violence.
With a degree in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical industries, Quitno, like her fellow candidates, named the COVID-19 pandemic as the top challenge facing her district.
She said if there’s one thing the County Board can do better during the pandemic, it’s emphasize health and safety.
“If we’ve failed anywhere, it would just be on getting the mindsets right so people aren’t going out without a mask,” she said. “The longer the people ignore the guidelines, the more we’re going to have to start over, and that’s where the economy is getting shafted. We have to get on the same page with this and unite.”
Laurie Emmer, District 4, Republican
Laurie Emmer was born in Puerto Rico and raised in a military family, was the first woman to take command of the Illinois Veterans of Foreign Affairs. She’s running for a second term on the DeKalb County Board to continue that line of service.
“I care deeply about this community,” she said. “This is the place I call home. I care about the economy here, the safety.”
Emmer said she believes the county thus far has done “a phenomenal job,” tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of my concerns through, is personal responsibility,” she said. “My concern is our local businesses. I hate to say it, but the governor’s decision [regarding Region 1 mitigations] is the right one. We have to get this under control.”
She serves on the Mental Health Board and said she is “very much in favor” of more training for DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputies, and said she supports social workers responding to emergencies.
Emmer applauded the County Board for having a balanced budget “for a long time.”
“We have $1.5 million in reserves,” she said “But there’s a lot of uncertainty. Using the reserves, I am personally nervous about that. “