Turnout down in elections

David Jacobson:116 votes (100 percent)

Andre Phillips and Satta Kendor

About 1,241 votes were cast Tuesday in the 2015 DeKalb aldermanic election, a 60 vote decline from the last odd-numbered ward election in 2011.

One alderman is elected from each of the seven wards in the city and serves a four-year term. The odd-numbered wards were up for election this year. The aldermen compose the City Council, which serves as DeKalb’s legislative body.

First ward

First ward Alderman David Jacobson secured his seat on the City Council with 116 votes, running unopposed, and said his major concern for the next four years is finances for the city. Jacobson said he would like to see DeKalb in a position where it is operating a sustainable, neutral budget with reasonably priced services.

Jacobson said his biggest concern four years ago was safety. Co-policing efforts between the chiefs in the NIU and DeKalb police departments have allowed Jacobson to shift his focus on finances.

“When you’re so busy treading water, it’s hard to learn to swim,” Jacobson said. “Now that those things … have certainly made major progress … I think the next four years will give me the opportunity to really push for better planning and better strategic visioning of what happens in the 1st ward going forward and what the face of the ward and the face of the city will look like both in a year, in four years and in the far beyond future.”

Third ward

Michael Marquardt’s 237 votes gave him a victory over opponent Steve Kapitan, who received 228 votes. Marquardt said his major concern during his term will be maintaining and adding businesses, keeping expenditures low and balancing the budget without raising taxes.

Kapitan, who lost to Marquardt by nine votes, said voter turnout was less than average this year. Municipal elections have the lowest percentage voter turnout of all elections, Kapitan said.

“In going door to door and talking with people, I learned there’s a great deal of cynicism about government,” Kapitan said. “You know they, people, see the corruption in government and that sours their view of government in general and often times they drop out of the process. The low voter turnout is a reflection of that, and this election was no different.”

Fifth ward

Kate Noreiko took the fifth ward alderman position as she beat out her opponents with 247 votes.

Noreiko celebrated the win at home with friends and said she wants to meet with city staff to get a better understanding of issues soon to be presented to the City Council.

“I will need to learn the details of the budget,” Noreiko said. “I want to meet with the city manager and the economic development director and find out what I as an alderman can do to further economic development in the city.”

Michael Haji-Sheikh said he was disappointed by falling short of a win with his 220 votes, but the loss to Noreiko was “not the end of the world,” as he plans to stay active in the community and attend City Council meetings to ask questions of the council.

“I feel that local politics affect the way we do things,” Haji-Sheikh said. “I want to bring in jobs and create an organized environment where people want to stay.”

Cameron Zelaya said he was happy his connection with the citizens in his wards earned him 102 votes, adding he didn’t take Noreiko’s win as a loss.

“The best thing about being 24 is my future is right in front of me,” Zelaya said. “I’m going to take it one day at a time. I will still wake up tomorrow [and] take a shower, get ready for work and sell somebody some insurance.”

Seventh ward

Incumbent Monica O’Leary saved her 7th ward position by one vote, as she garnered 46 votes to opponent Craig Roman’s 45 votes. O’Leary nearly doubled her 26 votes from 2011, when she won the election by four votes. The alderwoman said she is thankful to DeKalb but hopes to make more of an effort to increase voter turnout.

In the next year, O’Leary said she is focused on transparency in DeKalb and keeping the city within its budget.

Challenger Roman said he will not seek a seat again. Roman ran in the 6th ward alderman election in 2009 and lost to 6th ward Alderman David Baker and he lost in the 2012 DeKalb County Board election.

Roman said he will contact DeKalb County Clerk Doug Johnson to “make sure votes were counted.”