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Local

Breaking: Carolyn Morris, DeKalb Ward 1 Alderman, is running for Mayor of DeKalb in 2021

Mayor Jerry Smith: 'I had no idea this was going to happen'

DeKALB – Carolyn Morris, DeKalb's Ward 1 Alderman, announced late Wednesday night she is running for Mayor of DeKalb in the 2021 election.

"I have loved working for you from day one," Morris said in a social media announcement. "After my election to DeKalb city council I knew I wanted to spend all my time this way. Public service has been my entire adult life – from joining the Marine Corps in 2002, to nonprofit management, and now serving as 1st Ward Alderman. After finishing my B.S. in Economics at Northern Illinois University, I began my Masters in Public Policy and Administration at Northwestern to further my ability to serve. I am asking you to elect me as your Mayor of DeKalb, on April 6, 2021."

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith's term expires in April of 2021, and he said Wednesday he was surprised to hear the news.

"I had no idea this was going to happen," Smith said. "This was the first I've heard of it. I am somewhat surprised and perhaps somewhat disappointed that Carolyn wouldn't have chatted with me. It would've been nice if she'd reached out and told me she was going to do this before she announced it."

Smith, 76, said his mind isn't yet made up on running for re-election in April, but – much like he did when he ran in 2017 – he had planned to make that decision later in the year. He said he expects he'll have a decision sometime in October.

"Of course I've thought about [running again]," Smith said. "Right now with so many things going on in government, my primary responsibility is to do the job as mayor, and frankly, I have not thought much about this campaign, certainly not for my re-election. This again will be a decision that my wife, Ging, and I will make together on whether or not re-election is the best thing for the City of DeKalb and for the Smiths."

Prior to her success in DeKalb's Ward 1 race, for which she ran uncontested following an eight-year consecutive term from former Alderman David Jacobson, Morris, 36, also ran as a Democrat for DeKalb County Clerk & Recorder, challenging incumbent and Republican Doug Johnson unsuccessfully.

In 2016, Smith – a former executive director of the DeKalb County Community Foundation and also a veteran – announced he'd be running for Mayor, ousting incumbent John Rey.

Morris said in her post she's also planning a listening tour for her election season ahead of April.

Smith, who said he's been busy this week addressing power outages across the city and coronavirus pandemic relief, called Morris, who began her four-year term in April 2019, a 'key member' of the council.

"I think Carolyn has been one who is very much a political person, she's a key member of our city council," Smith said. "I'm so proud of this entire city council."

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