2015 Aldermen Elections: Candidates Night

By Jackie Nevarez

The League of Women Voters of DeKalb County will hold a Candidates’ Night 6:30 p.m. today in the second floor of the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St.

Candidates in contested races, including the 3rd, 5th and 7th wards, will answer questions from the audience. To submit a question, audience members are asked to arrive before 6:20 p.m. and write their questions at the door. The event will also be streamed on DeKalb’s website, CityofDeKalb.com.

Citizens had the opportunity to meet the aldermen candidates Monday at DeKalb Candidates Night, held at the Stage Coach Players Theater, 126 S. Fifth St. Candidates spoke about issues ranging from the future of the Oderkirk House to working with the state Legislature.

First ward Alderman David Jacobson did not participate in the forum, as he is running unopposed.

Third ward

Steve Kapitan, 3rd ward alderman candidate, said he served as alderman from 1995 to 2007 and as DeKalb city clerk 2009 to 2012. Kapitan said he would study material, do independent research and speak his mind to influence decisions made by the City Council.

“A lot of times council members will just accept what the [city] staff presents without critical inquiry,” Kapitan said. “And as many remember, I wasn’t one of those people.”

Michael Marquardt, 3rd ward alderman candidate, said he’s been a DeKalb resident since 1989 when he moved to attend NIU. Describing himself as a “history buff,” Marquardt said the Oderkirk House should be preserved. The Annie Glidden Agrarian Society has pushed NIU to take responsibility for renovations to the house, but NIU officials have declined to do so.

“I believe we need to preserve the history we have in the city,” Marquardt said. “There are cases where buildings fall totally out of repair … . In those cases, I think we should put buildings to good use.”

Fifth ward

Michael Haji-Sheikh, 5th ward alderman candidate, has served as an associate professor in electrical engineering at NIU for 13 years. Haji-Sheikh said DeKalb’s strengths include a “world-class academic institution” in NIU, clean water and a strong work ethic.

Cameron Zelaya, 5th ward alderman candidate, is a 2008 graduate of DeKalb High School and serves as an in-person counselor for assistance in affordable healthcare coverage at the DeKalb County Health Department. Zelaya said the City Council should work with local representatives to influence the state Legislature’s actions and let them know proposed budget cuts may be harmful to DeKalb’s services.

Kate Noreiko, 5th ward alderwoman candidate, served as a human resources professional for 25 years. Noreiko said every effort should be made to “preserve treasures from our past” in reference to the Oderkirk House.

“I would want to find out what NIU’s concerns are about the facility and see how we can work towards the city and NIU could work together towards resolving those concerns,” Noreiko said.

Seventh ward

Monica O’Leary, 7th ward alderwoman candidate and current 7th ward alderwoman, has been a citizen of DeKalb for 31 years. O’Leary said petitions expressing how proposed budget cuts would affect the city must be given to the state Legislature to influence its actions.

Craig Roman, 7th ward alderman candidate, is the treasurer for the DeKalb County Illinois Democratic Party. To work with city staff, Roman said he would get to know them better individually and get more in-depth information on what they present at City Council meetings.