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2017 DeKalb Mayor

Residents offered numerous chances to meet mayoral candidates

DeKALB – With early voting underway and a little more than a month remaining before Election Day April 4, schedules will be packed for the city’s four mayoral candidates as they make their bids to secure votes.

Incumbent John Rey and challengers Jerry Smith, Michael Embrey and Misty Haji-Sheikh are scheduled for multiple forums in March, including an event Wednesday at The Egyptian Theatre and a series of events hosted by One DeKalb, a March 14 event at New Hope Baptist Church at 1201 Twombly Road, a meet-and-greet March 21 at The House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway, and a forum at the University Village Community Room at 722 N. Annie Glidden Road.

The latter three events make up the “Building Bridges” forums hosted by One DeKalb, a collaboration between Northern Illinois University students and DeKalb County Community Gardens Director Dan Kenney.

Outside of these events, candidates will be focused on individual appearances, including fundraisers and community outreach.

Rey, who is running with a platform of good governance, economic development and public safety as the highest priority goals, will be holding a public fundraiser at 6 p.m. March 23 at Eduardo’s Mexican Restaurant, 214 E. Lincoln Highway, and also will be doing strategic mailings and distributing other material, such as door hangers.

“I’m very much looking forward to the community engagement that is anticipated from those community forums to be able to talk to citizens and learn more of their concerns and have dialogue,” Rey said. “I’m continuing to walk neighborhoods and talk with constituents throughout the community, and that will primarily be on weekends over the next five weeks.”

Rey said he has received about $11,000, including a $5,000 loan he made to his campaign committee.

Smith, who said he believes his business and social service acumen set him apart from other candidates, also will be walking through each ward to gather community input while looking at additional advertising.

“In the latter few days, I’ll be reminding folks that the votes are critical, and we want to get folks who we know will be supporting us to get to the polls,” Smith said. “It’s great to have so many folks interested in the election.”

Through a total of 216 letters sent to community members he knew, Smith has received more than $19,000 in campaign contributions.

“I am humbled,” Smith said. “The funding exceeded anything I thought could be raise for this election.”

While he did receive early backing from Barb City Action Committee, Smith said he has not received any money from the group.

Embrey, who said his business experience and willingness to incorporate resident input would make him an effective leader, said he is looking to organize a fundraiser toward the end of the month, but will be spending nearly every day until the election in meetings and other discussions.

He did not have an exact figure of total campaign donations, and contributions could not be found on the Illinois Board of Elections website, but said he is trying to be very frugal in his campaigning.

“Prints and signs are important, but social media, which in many cases is free or very affordable, has some of the best outreach,” Embrey said.

Haji-Sheikh, who is seeking to increase the number of jobs and making the city more business-friendly, is holding events including at 6:30 p.m. today at Rosita’s Mexican Restaurant at 642 E. Lincoln Highway and at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Lincoln Inn at 240 E. Lincoln Highway.

Other events she had planned had to be rescheduled because of the bulk of community forums for all four candidates.

She said that she had been asked to run for mayor when she had been campaigning to be on the DeKalb County Board, which was a huge acknowledgement of what she could do for the city. She also did not have an exact figure on campaign donations, and figures could not be found with the Illinois Board of Elections, but said she received small donations from a lot of people.

More online
See responses from the DeKalb mayor candidates to our questionnaires online at

Candidate events
Wednesday: Mayoral and aldermanic forum at the Egyptian Theatre, 5:30 p.m.
March 14: New Hope Baptist Church community conversation, 7 p.m.
March 16: DeKalb County Building and Development Association presentation and meet and greet at Kishwaukee College KEC building, 5 p.m.
March 21: Meet and greet at House Cafe, 5:30 p.m.
March 22: Community forum at Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center’s Little Theater, 7 p.m.
March 30: Community forum at University Village Community Room, 5 p.m.

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