DuPage County Board Member’s Behavior Addressed in Meeting

Pete DiCianni Board Meeting
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There was one topic dominating Tuesday’s DuPage County Board Meeting: the comments and behavior of board member and former mayor of Elmhurst, Pete DiCianni.

Recent Issues Involving DiCianni

Pete DiCianni appeared at a pro-police rally in Elmhurst on June 27th, which clashed with a nearby Black Lives Matter protest. DiCianni was filmed arguing with protesters, carrying a homemade “We Back Police” sign, while not wearing a mask.

In a letter to DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, fellow board member Elizabeth Chaplin said she was “deeply troubled and disturbed” by DiCianni’s “aggressive actions, inappropriate language and complete lack of respect and safety of others.”

“Without wearing a mask, he yelled in the faces of my constituents and boasted about being a county board member and mayor painting all of us with the same brush,” wrote Chaplin, a Downers Grove Democrat. “This behavior is unbecoming to the office of a Member of the DuPage County Board, the Chairman of the DuPage County Health and Human Services Committee or any elected official.”

Mary FitzGerald Ozog, a Democrat from Glen Ellyn, also wrote to Cronin recommending censure over DiCianni’s recent actions. A censure is a public record of disapproval that does not carry any additional penalties such as removal from office.

Elmhurst resident Lauren Sussman emailed DiCianni the day of the rally saying that she was “extremely disappointed in his actions earlier that day,” Sussman wrote in her email. “You made Black people in our community feel unwelcome. At a critical time in our history, you chose to play the part of politician instead of a human. You showed that you have no ability to emphasize with oppressed community members, to be open to understanding their struggles, and you left them in the dust. You are a terrible representation of the place I call home.”

Fifteen minutes later, DiCianni emailed back “Go stick you(r) vote in your a**! I stood up for my cops today.”

County Board Discussion

In his opening remarks, Chairmen Dan Cronin, a Republican from Elmhurst, expressed disappointment over DiCianni’s behavior during the rally, his email response to Sussman and a recent robocall sent out by DiCianni on Sunday. Cronin then called for the board to remove DiCianni before moving the meeting to public comments.

The robocall that allegedly came from DiCianni told DuPage County residents that the board would be considering defunding the police at today’s board meeting. Chairman Cronin called the information in the robocall “misleading” and suggested that DiCianni did this to drum up support for himself at the upcoming board meeting.

“By circulating a misleading robocall, this Board member has caused unnecessary fear and anxiety,” Cronin said. “It has caused a situation where people may feel compelled to gather unnecessarily while COVID-19 is spiking, endangering themselves, our staff and the security team that must ensure the health and safety of the public.”

While Cronin noted that no item on the board’s meeting agenda for Tuesday was aimed at defunding police, law enforcement budgets or manpower, many community members did use their allotted time of three minutes to speak out against the idea of defunding the police.

Board meetings usually only allow for 30 minutes of public comments, but the board allowed more than four hours of public comments.  Many spoke out in support of Pete DiCianni and his public service over his long career, while others expressed disappointment in his recent actions as a public official and requested his removal or censure. After people spoke in person, emails were read out loud. Many of those comments were also about DiCianni’s behavior. Several people called for DiCianni’s resignation. Others felt he should be removed as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. Attorneys estimated half of the emails were read out loud by the time the board voted to move on from public comment.

After public comment ended, DiCianni spoke.

“I am proud to support my police in my hometown,” he said. “My own passion for the men and women in blue led me to remove my mask so I could be heard, ending in a lapse of judgment, and an email to a constituent – certainly not my finest moment and something I do regret. But I will not apologize for standing up for our fine police officers.”

He announced he will step down as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee to avoid divisiveness.

Other Discussions

Once the board moved on to other business, there was some discussion on the county holiday schedule. One board member questioned about making Juneteenth an official holiday. But ultimately the board decided to leave the schedule as is and promote education about Black lives instead.