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Candidates address questions at Elmhurst League of Women Voters forum

Steven Schwartzberg (from left), Benjamin Wolf and Sameena Mustafa, Democratic candidates for the 5th Congressional District, take turns answering voter questions in a League of Women Voters forum Jan. 21 at Elmhurst City Hall.
Steven Schwartzberg (from left), Benjamin Wolf and Sameena Mustafa, Democratic candidates for the 5th Congressional District, take turns answering voter questions in a League of Women Voters forum Jan. 21 at Elmhurst City Hall.

ELMHURST – The League of Women Voters of Elmhurst held a candidate forum Jan. 21 for five contested races impacting Elmhurst residents.

The forum was at Elmhurst City Hall, 209 N. York St., with about 50 community members in attendance.

Below is an overview of the event, spotlighting select candidate responses.


Benjamin Wolf, Steven Schwartzberg and Sameena Mustafa (incumbent Mike Quigley absent)

On immigration and detention centers:

Wolf: "The problem began with the law. Immigration law is incredibly complex. ... The immigration system needs to be completely revolved where it is realistic, reasonable and simplified. ... I will make it much easier for people to understand."

Schwartzberg: "I favor returning to the policies of the country during the first century of its existence when anyone can come into the country and become a citizen rather than what we live with now, which is...inhuman to the people who are caught up in the system."

Mustafa: "We need a clean DREAM act. We need to provide a path to citizenship not only for DACA recipients but for the 11 mililon undocumented. ... Veterans who have been deported – we need to bring them back."


Frank Bibbiano and James Mendrick

On accountability of law enforcement:

Bibbiano: "Police departments have to be accountable to the population that they serve. ... I'm proud that the DuPage County Sheriff's Office does not have any of those issues. ... Our budget is online so the taxpayer can see what their money is being spent on."

Mendrick: "I think the Sheriff's Office needs to be open. I think people are fearful of anything that seems secret. An online budget is a good thing to have, but it needs to be detailed out. We have an over $40 million budget, and it's only a few sheets of paper. There's very little explanation of what your tax dollars are actually going to ... Also, I believe we can improve our relationship with the media."


Anne Sommerkamp and Jim Caffrey

On the temporary property tax freeze:

Sommerkamp: "I think the problem is much bigger than a two- or a four-year tax freeze. ... I think we need to generate more revenue in the state of Illinois."

Caffrey: "I'm opposed to a temporary property tax freeze. ... No one denies that we have a property tax problem here in Illinois. ... The best way to reduce rates, however, is to consolidate local taxing bodies and a change to our local pension systems."


Sam Tornatore, Paul A. DeMichele and Dino Gavanes (incumbent Paul Fichtner absent)

On goals for the term:

Tornatore highlighted Fly Quiet, Western Access, stormwater and the heroin epidemic as important issues and projects.

DeMichele said his priorities would be the Western Access project, substance abuse prevention programs and transportation along Interstate 390.

Gavanes brought up promoting youth engagement in politics, aiding with the opiod addiction epidemic and gaining new businesses, especially ones that create high-paying jobs.


Claire Goldenberg, Elizabeth (Liz) Chaplin and Arlene Kendorski

On goals for the term:

Goldenberg suggested giving more voice to residents through surveying them on their viewpoints on issues to enhance transparency and communication, along with striving for civil rights and social justice, and taking care of the impoverished and disabled.

Chaplin said she wants to continue to address flooding and natural hazards mitigation and cooperation with local governments, especially as related to the heroin epidemic and addressing mental health issues.

Kendorski said County Board-paid lobbyists should be done away with, and County Board meetings should be held in the evening, allow residents to make comments and add a time slot for questions at the end of the meetings to increase citizens' input.


Get out and vote

Early voting in the primary election begins Feb. 8, and polls close at 7 p.m. March 20. The forum also will be televised in February and March. For information, visit

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