DeKALB – A 29-year-old incumbent is facing off against a 52-year-old township trustee in the race for DeKalb Township supervisor.
Eric Johnson, who was appointed to serve out former Supervisor Patricia LaVigne’s term after she died in November 2010, is running as part of a new party, while Jim Luebke is running as an independent. The two differ on political tactics, as well as the township’s relatively new Committee on Youth.
“After doing the job for two years, I had been enjoying the work I was doing in the community,” said Johnson, who has a law degree from Northern Illinois University. “I still believe townships serve a role in today’s society. They can help the community and continue to do stuff.”
Luebke, a manager at a small local manufacturer, said things have changed in the township, and the leadership should reflect that.
“The township has changed. I’ve seen it. It’s not the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago,” Luebke said. “The township has changed, and I believe the township board should reflect that.”
One of the key differences between Johnson and Luebke will be apparent on the April 9 ballot. Johnson and seven other township candidates will be listed as members of the United DeKalb party.
Because they grouped together as a party, the eight candidates had to only circulate one petition, rather than eight. Johnson said it was a way for candidates already working together to do so more effectively.
However, Illinois law stipulates that new parties are placed above independent candidates on the ballot, something that riles Luebke.
“I don’t see why they filed for any other reason other than a silly political trick,” Luebke said.
Another difference is the Committee on Youth, which Johnson created. The committee awards $500 grants to social service agencies that combat juvenile delinquency.
“By law, it has a wide scope. It’s not deeply defined in what it can do,” Johnson said. “I didn’t want it to be a duplication of any service that existed.”
Luebke, however, plans to disband the committee if he’s elected. He said Johnson is using it to project his political power across the township.
“It’s meant to extend the reach of the township,” Luebke said. “Maybe he had a good intention, but it’s difficult to see how this could make a difference with a social service agency.”
Johnson said Luebke has not attended any of the committee’s meetings, nor was he aware of his criticisms before the League of Women Voters’ candidates’ night Wednesday.