DeKALB – While races for DeKalb mayor, city council and park district have been highlighted at local debates, candidates for DeKalb Township offices took center stage Wednesday.
Five township races were featured during the DeKalb County League of Women Voters Candidates Night at the Council Chambers in DeKalb City Hall. More than 30 candidates for local races of all offices were invited to the event, which was broadcast on the public access channel and streamed online at DeKalb’s website. More than 50 people attended.
Although township candidates had not enjoyed a public stage to debate in the lead up to the April 9 election, DeKalb Township Supervisor Eric Johnson said the unit of government is still relevant and serve an important role.
Johnson highlighted the accomplishments during his tenure the past two years, including launching a cellphone recycling program, a Committee on Youth to battle juvenile delinquency and overhauling the township website to be more transparent.
“This is the unit of government closest to the people, and we want to keep it that way,” Johnson said. “We’re one of the few units of government that can say we carry zero debt.”
Jim Luebke, the head of an independent coalition running for multiple township offices, said township government could be more accessible and efficient. He said he would have later than 4:30 p.m. start times for monthly meetings and look to eliminate programs such as the Committee on Youth.
Johnson and his challenger disagreed on the role of the Committee on Youth, with Luebke calling it an unnecessary layer of government and Johnson touting it as a vital source of funding for organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“We have to make sure when we are expanding government we don’t duplicate what people are already doing well,” Luebke said.
Seven candidates are competing for four township board positions. Michael Shane and Patricia McKinley are two of the incumbents running for the positions and talked about their dedication to continuing the work the board has accomplished the past five years.
Shane said he would continue to protect the taxpayers while McKinley said she would stay connected to the community and be a voice for constituents.
“I’m out in the community a lot, and I let people know I am a trustee,” McKinley said. “I take pride in my six years of service on the township board.”
Lametra Curry, Kevin Flavin and Lisa King represented the independent party organized by Luebke.
Other township races include assessor, highway commissioner and clerk.
Flavin said he was a lifelong resident eager to give back, while Curry and King said they moved to DeKalb because of its opportunities and represent the diversity and changes that have taken place over the past decade.
“Our community has changed drastically. It’s not even the same place 10 years ago when I came here,” Curry said. “I would like to be that voice that may not be present at the table.”