Sands fills Pritchard’s seat

By Laura Grandt

Dennis Sands wears many hats: retired police sergeant, domestic violence prevention advocate and business owner, but now he is playing perhaps his most influential role yet.

Sands was elected chairman of the DeKalb County Board on Dec. 17, filling the position vacated by state representative Robert Pritchard.

Pritchard now fills the seat of the late representative David Wirsing.

Democrats on the board selected Stephen Faivre, 2nd District representative, as their candidate to fill the position, but did not have the votes to elect him. When it became clear Sands was the Republican candidate, Sands was elected with a unanimous vote.

Party lines should not be an issue anymore, unless redistricting or caucuses are concerned, said Eileen Dubin, 8th District representative. She said she thinks Sands will be a fair chairman.

Dubin has worked with Sands on the Planning and Regulation committee, and said he was inquisitive and always worked to get the facts.

Sands said immediate concerns include passing a public safety referendum, dealing with the increasing growth of the county, examining a possible casino in Shabbona and updating board rules.

The public safety referendum seeks to expand the county jail and offers six alternative programs to prevent incarceration.

Sands draws from the 23 and a half years he spent in law enforcement, the first three and a half spent with University Police, and the last twenty spent with the Sheriff’s Department.

Jeff Metzger, 12th District board representative, said he thinks this experience will help Sands while dealing with the issue. Metzger said Sands has been active since becoming a board member three years ago and he is a people person who listens.

Sands said he thinks his ability to listen is one of the assets that will help him succeed in this position.

“I always pride myself on knowing the other side of the issue as well as the side that I support,” Sands said. “That’s what other people want on the other side of the issue, someone to listen.”

He said his ability to see the big picture is another asset he believes will help him in his new endeavor.

Sands has been meeting with mayors of the various towns that constitute DeKalb County. He said he hopes to meet with all of them by the end of the month. Most of the meetings are already scheduled.

Sands said he wanted to get to know the mayors and develop a rapport right off the bat, as well as hearing what they had to say.

Caring about what others have to say is a quality Pritchard said he thinks will help Sands with his new job.

“Denny has experience that can go a long way in building understanding,” Pritchard said.

Sands was also president of the board for Safe Passage, a domestic violence shelter.

He wrote the police protocol on how to deal with domestic violence situations, and has won awards in the field.

To add to his busy schedule, Sands also co-owns three seasonal businesses, Pokonaka’s Restaurant, Lakeside Bait, Tackle and Boat Rental Shop, and The Camp Store at Shabbona Lake State Park.

Sands will finish the remaining 11 months left on the chairman’s term. He then has two additional years left on the board, in which he said he will probably seek another term as chairman.