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District 10 hopefuls focus on different county issues

Published: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – James MacMurdo has no problem being a single-issue candidate.

The Republican challenger for DeKalb County Board District 10 said his top three priorities should he be elected are all the same – attract more industry to DeKalb County.

“I’m not running for governor or state representative,” he said. “As one of 24 people, [the board] really needs a spokesman for industry, someone who is going to lead the charge.”

MacMurdo hopes he can lead the charge by winning one of two seats that also are sought by Republican incumbent Jeff Whelan and Democratic challenger Frank O’Barski.

District 10 covers the southeast portion of DeKalb, running east from South Annie Glidden Road toward Webster Road and going just south of Harvestore Drive.

After retiring with 28 years of experience at Ideal Industries, MacMurdo said he knows what manufacturers look for in potential locations for their industries and believes he could help strengthen the county’s job attraction and assist the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation.

“It’s no secret in Illinois we start off with one arm tied behind our back, economically speaking,” he said of the state’s business climate. “But we [in DeKalb County] have a very willing and cooperative community base and two major educational institutions.”

Whelan, a five-year veteran on the board, said he takes a more all-encompassing approach to his role and tries to focus on issues that affect all county residents, not just district-specific concerns because those are generally city related.

His work with the mental health board has opened his eyes to the bevy of services people need, especially in difficult economic times, and he said that has led him to focus on balancing the need for financial restraint with delivering services.

“State funding has been cut back, but people need assistance, especially when the economy is down,” he said.

O’Barski, who hopes to replace Pat Vary as the Democrat from District 10, said he is running because he has the same concerns as many residents, especially when it comes to the jail and landfill expansions.

O’Barski said DeKalb County spends far too much in court and on incarceration costs for its relatively small size, and he believes reforms could be made.

He said one option could be detouring the large volume of failure-to-appear offenders outside of the court process to other avenues, such as caseworkers.

“I think we can save a lot of money with some reforms to justice proceedings,” he said. “We have to protect the community ... but there are a lot of minor offenses.”

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