Candidate profile: Ward 2 alderperson

By Northern Star Staff

The following is the response to a Northern Star questionnaire sent to local candidates for the 2021 consolidated election. Answers have been lightly edited for clarity and consistency.

Name: J.J. Wett

Occupation: Clinical Director at the DeKalb County Youth Service Bureau and Marriage and Family Therapist

Education: B.S. from NIU in ’07 and M.S. in Family and Child Studies from NIU in ‘12

Related experience:

As a community leader, I have held several leadership positions throughout the county. Currently, I am a member of the Transition Planning Committee which helps young adults with disabilities transition into adulthood. Recently I have been named Chairperson of the Board for Avancer Homes & Genesis Developmental Training Center. Until recently, I was the Vice-Chair of the DeKalb County Democratic Party. I resigned to dedicate my time to becoming the next 2nd Ward Alderman.

Why are you running the position:

As the next Alderman for Ward 2, I will continually listen to and advocate for all the constituents that I represent. I will fight to keep businesses secure and prosperous, help build the working class, and secure a budget that helps defend social services. Most importantly, I will be a representative for the people!

Goals you want to accomplish if elected:

  • Protect ALL Minority Voices and Ensure That All of DeKalb’s Human Services Are Funded at a Higher Rate
    Human services in the community are funded at an extremely low percentage! These services are what truly rehabilitate the community from violence. Violence generally stems from a lack of control over emotions. With all of the human service providers in DeKalb, there is no reason this problem cannot be taken care of! By reallocating funding from other areas, we are more than able to re-allocate that funding to fund our human services. Thus ending the war on drugs and protecting our BIPOC, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and disability communities!
  • Continue to Assist Small Businesses, Particularly Worker-Owned Co-Operatives
    Small businesses and worker co-ops help build the middle class from the inside out! According to Forbes, “We often hear that small businesses are the engines of job creation in the United States. Their value and the role they play in our economy are sometimes underestimated because, they are in fact, small. But the truth is there’s nothing small about the impact they have on our economy.” According to Entrepreneur Magazine, there are approximately 25 million to 27 million small businesses in the United States of America that account for 60 to 80 percent of all jobs. Also, another recent study by Paychex says that small businesses produce 13 times more patents than larger firms. Worker co-ops are business entities that are owned and controlled by their members, the people who work in them. workers report that because they have an ownership stake in the businesses their productivity is higher, absenteeism is lower, and they are much more satisfied with their jobs.
  • Implement Prevailing Wage for ALL Projects Using Taxpayers’ Money
    Prevailing wages support and help the working class to thrive in our city. When workers are paid prevailing wages, their income enters the stream of local commerce. Workers who earn a livable wage in turn spend their income in our communities at restaurants and other local businesses that help our local economy grow.
  • Transparency Within the City Council
    Local citizens do their best to vet their political candidates to ensure they get public officials into office that are honest, have integrity, and will work for the best interests of the community. When the media comes forth with news about fraud in government, it’s a huge letdown, especially when it happens in local government. Secrecy creates an environment where there is the potential for the lack of accountability and abuse of power. When information about how a local government operates isn’t forthcoming, it causes the public to be skeptical. Best practices for good governance recommend that transparency is a vital component of good government and strong communities. By hosting quarterly town halls to answer questions and hear concerns, we can add transparency! By responding to emails and phone calls, we can add transparency! Finally, when we ask questions and challenge the status quo, we can add transparency!
  • Rebuild Our Crumbling Infrastructure
    The American Society of Civil Engineers has given the entire USA an overall grade of a D+ for our infrastructure… AND DEKALB IS NO DIFFERENT!!! My plan is to invest in our roadways, energy, public transportation, schools, railways, and bridges to not only make the city one of the best cities to live in but also create jobs.
  • Implement a Common Lease for Landlords and Renters
    The goal of having a standard lease for all rented units in DeKalb is to clarify the rights of tenants and the responsibilities of landlords in a uniform way for all renters in our city. With the Common Lease, we can change the dynamic between landlord and tenant by allowing tenants to withhold rent when basic utilities are not provided, or when maintenance requests go ignored. The Common Lease also protects landlords in the case that property is destroyed, the renter will be held accountable. DeKalb is a renter-majority city, and disproportionately people of color live under the neglect of the city and careless landlords.

Why students/residents should vote for you:

When you have a disability, you don’t choose politics, politics chooses you. When you have a disability, every day we enter the political battle arena knowing that services we rely on to live our lives wholly could be cut with a swipe of the pen. These services enlist us to not only fight for ourselves, but for our community. From early on in my life, I consistently advocated for my disability community but never on a larger political level. I advocated for my” community” and my community alone, never anyone else. Then again, that’s the conservative mindset and I was raised in a conservative household. The above mindset forced me to confront my own implicit biases. From this, I have learned and transformed into who I have become. I believe trans rights are human rights, science is real, Black lives matter, kindness is everything, love is love, and the working class is what drives our country. In 2014, I had a few months off and stumbled upon articles about the disastrous effects of corporatism in the world. I couldn’t get enough and kept reading and watching documentaries including The Koch Brothers Exposed. This documentary is about the owners of Wal-Mart and how they influence politics in our country. This is what got me off the sidelines and into the game.

As your next Alderman for Ward 2, I will continually listen to and advocate for all constituents. I will fight to keep businesses secure and prosperous, help build the working class, ensure NIU and the students at NIU have a voice and secure a budget that helps defend social services. I want an equitable council that promotes equity through social programs. I want a just council that ensures mental health is a major part of law enforcement. Finally, I want a prosperous council that helps small businesses and renters prosper. There’s only one way forward, and that is for us to progress together.

The Northern Star is publishing the candidates’ responses to our questions as they are given to us. The Northern Star is not endorsing local candidates. To have your profile published email