DeKALB — Mayor Jerry Smith has begun working on the list of demands that protesters delivered to him and Interim Police Chief Petragallo on Saturday during a rally and march to the DeKalb Police Department.

On Saturday, protesters marched to the DeKalb Police Department demanding a set date for more sensitivity training, more accountability for police officers and the establishment of a diverse human relations committee.

During Monday night’s City Council meeting, Smith said he commends everyone who took part in the protest on Saturday.

“I respectfully accepted those written demands and assured the group that, as mayor, I would respond in a timely manner,” Smith said. “I have begun that process, and will work with Chief Petragallo in addressing the concerns brought forth on Saturday.”

Smith said Saturday’s rally was another step towards how true social justice can be attained through thoughtful and honest discussions with one another.

Fourth ward alderperson

At Monday night’s meeting, a vote to appoint Gregory Perkins as the new fourth ward alderperson passed unanimously. He will fill the position until the next election in April 2021.

Smith said there are three expectations he has for any new alderperson to succeed; to keep good attendance during city council meetings, respond respectfully to any residents in your ward and to expect criticism.

“You're going to be criticized, you're going to have constructive criticism, hopefully, most of the time,” Smith said. “I hope you join me, as long as folks are civil and handle criticism, with what we're doing in the proper way and I think we're all the better for it.”

Perkins was sworn in immediately by City Clerk Lynn Fazekas and participated at the meeting as the new fourth ward alderperson.

Perkins currently works as an operations manager at Ryerson Metal Processing and Distribution in DeKalb and is an NIU graduate with a degree in finance.

Other business

The city will allow cannabis businesses other than dispensaries. During the Oct. 28 meeting, Alderperson Carolyn Morris said the wording prohibiting the other types of businesses didn’t reflect the openness that the council originally expressed.

The DeKalb Fire Department was recognized at Monday night’s meeting for rescuing a driver after their car slid into the Kishwaukee River on Nov. 1.

The fire department responded to the incident and found an SUV in the middle of the Kishwaukee River near West Lincoln Highway. Two firefighter-paramedics entered the river current and approached the vehicle to help the patient out of the car. Other fire department members were recognized for getting the patient and SUV out of the river.

“In exigent circumstances, it takes cool heads, it takes people who are able to improvise and to act and lead when time is of the essence and when people are in need,” City Manager Bill Nicklas said. “And each one of these people did that and did so very professionally, very deliberately and very calmly.”

The council also unanimously passed a resolution that requests the council to consider an option for the upcoming tax levy. The 2019 tax levy option includes a 4% decrease from 2018’s city rate, according to the Nov. 12 City Council agenda.

A public hearing and first reading of the levy ordinance will be held at the Nov. 25 regular City Council meeting.

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