DeKALB – With increasing crime rates and deteriorating housing hurting DeKalb, candidates for DeKalb County Board in District 5 see opportunities to use the position to help the county’s largest city.
Although County Board members have little control over municipal issues, incumbent Democrats Stephen Reid and Derek Tyson, along with Republican challenger Philip Young say there is no reason the county and DeKalb could not form stronger partnerships to address serious issues that affect everyone.
The three candidates are running for two spots in District 5, which includes parts of Northern Illinois University. The district starts just north of Rich Road and extends south to Laurel Lane before dropping off to Lucinda Avenue in a small portion. It runs east from North Annie Glidden Road to First Street.
Young said public safety issues inspired him to run for the county board, citing the increased crime in his district, including a murder and drive-by shooting in recent years. Although it is a city issue, he said increased crime could easily spread throughout the DeKalb County if it is not addressed in a unified way.
“Public safety is an issue for the county,” he said. “It gets down to things such as looking for ways to make more intergovernmental agreements.”
Tyson, a four-year county board veteran, also is focused on crime prevention. He said he would like to help organize a public safety summit for district residents that would encourage discussion with DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott as well as NIU police and DeKalb police officials.
He said the community needs to be more proactive in helping prevent crime and bridges need to be built between residents and law enforcement.
“We need to help them help us fight crime,” Tyson said of residents needing to be proactive. “[Residents] need to know there are police out there for us, who support us.”
Reid, a retired firefighter, said he has seen quality of life diminish in DeKalb and the city’s housing problems continue to grow. He said the county could help the city by attracting young families through job creation.
He also said the county – and the state – need to evaluate when and why they incarcerate individuals.
“There is a tremendous burden on our courts and jail,” he said. “We incarcerate way too many people for what we can handle.”