DeKALB – The former executive director of Re:New DeKalb is the third candidate to announce running for DeKalb’s mayor.
Jennifer Groce, a research associate at Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies, will run against John Rey, a retired Ag/Monsanto employee, and Mike Verbic, a member of the DeKalb School District 428 Board.
Groce said her work as NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies would complement the work and knowledge the mayor of a city is expected to have. She said she would work toward enhancing partnerships between the city of DeKalb and other agencies, including NIU.
“What is our place in the region, and how can we harness those resources for our community?” Groce said.
Groce noted that both the city and university are undergoing leadership changes in 2013. Mayor Kris Povlsen said he will not run for re-election in April, and NIU President John Peters said he will step down in June. The changes, she said, allow for deeper collaboration between the two.
“I see an important opportunity to enhance the community/university partnership to facilitate mutually beneficial outcomes that will move our city and our campus forward,” Groce said. “We have shared economic development interests and should work closely to develop shared goals and strategies to achieve them”
Groce previously served as the executive director of Re:New DeKalb, a not-for-profit organization that has focused on the economic development of downtown DeKalb. Groce ran Re:New DeKalb and its previous iterations for eight years before stepping down in June 2011.
She said her work led to some calling her a “community cheerleader,” but she said she was proud of her work. During her tenure, she helped oversee a $10.8 million construction project that improved the quality of DeKalb’s downtown area.
Groce identified crime and economic development as two of the most important issues the city is facing. She said she would push for proactive policing to reduce crime, and public-private partnerships between businesses and different governmental units.
Whether she wins or not, Groce said she is glad to be taking part in the dialogue the upcoming election will provide.
“My goal is to help move our city forward, and I hope to do so by taking part in this really important dialogue that will be present in this election,” Groce said.
Mayoral candidates must collect 239 to 383 signatures to appear on the ballot. The filing period for candidate petitions for all local offices is Dec. 17 to Dec. 24.