DeKalb County Democrats host mayoral debate


DeKalb mayoral candidates (from left to right) Mark Verbic, John Rey, Jennifer Groce and David Jacobson respond to citizen’s questions during a candidate’s night event on Thursday which was moderated by Dan Kenney (far right) of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb, 158 N. Fourth St.

By Ryan Chodora

Mayoral candidates sat down together on Thursday to answer questions from the public during a forum hosted by the DeKalb County Democrats.

“They [voters] are making a very important decision in voting for the next leader of our city,” said mayoral candidate Mike Verbic. “And there’s no better form than tonight when people can ask questions, that again, candidates need to be prepared to answer.”

The debate started at 8 p.m. and lasted about two hours after an open vote from the audience passed to extend the meeting. The event was held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb, 158 N. Fourth St.

“This is a great way for folks to get to know all of us as candidates; it’s a great way for different questions to be asked,” said mayoral candidate Jennifer Groce. “It’s really for us to get to hear citizens’ issues, as well.”

All four mayoral candidates were in attendance: Groce, a research associate in community and economic development at NIU; David Jacobson, DeKalb’s first ward alderman; John Rey, a retired internal SAP consultant at Monsanto; and Verbic, an instructional media system tech at NIU.

“I think too often at candidates’ nights, that the candidates direct how the conversation [goes] and what the message is,” Jacobson said. “I think it’s important for the citizens to get involved. I think it’s important for them to understand what the candidates are really about and not just what the script in front of them says.”

All four candidates were seated at a table and moderator Dan Kenney, a local environmental activist and the coordinator for the DeKalb Interfaith Network for Peace and Justice, read off questions for the candidates to answer. Each candidate had two minutes to answer each question, which ranged in topic from who their role models are to how to help businesses grow in the downtown area. Once each candidate had answered the question, they had the opportunity to partake in a one-minute rebuttal. The candidates each answered 11 questions throughout the evening.

“It really gives the citizens the opportunity to compare personalities and cut through rhetoric, if you will, and see the personality of the individuals,” Rey said.

The mayoral election is nonpartisan and election day is April 9.

For more information about the candidates, visit their web addresses.

Jennifer Groce:

David Jacobson:

John Rey:

Mike Verbic: