DuPage County Clerk and Sheriff Debates

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For the first time in more than 20 years, DuPage County will elect a new sheriff this November, as sheriff John Zaruba has decided to retire. Vying for that seat are Republican James Mendrick and Democrat Gregory Whalen.

At a recent League of Women Voters debate night, Whalen got to lead a forum and answer audience questions on his own, after Mendrick couldn’t attend due to a family emergency.

Whalen discussed how to prevent mass violence and crisis intervention, topics Mendrick addresses on his website to be in support of. But, Whalen also focused the discussion on police body cameras.

“To add transparency to when force is used, I believe the solution to that is the body camera program,” said Whalen. “It provides a different perspective and it provides some video that will help us put things together because a lot of time in a critical incident with law enforcement, they don’t always remember every bit and piece and that’s where the video could come in and help us reconstruct what had occurred.”

After Whalen’s forum it was the County Clerk candidates’ turn.

Incumbent Republican Paul Hinds and Democratic candidate Jean Kaczmarek answered questions submitted from the League of Women Voters and the audience.

The focus of their debate: security of elections. Both emphasized the importance of a secure electoral process and avoiding hacking.

“There needs to be a chain of custody and that needs to be strongly adhered to, there needs to be testing of the machines during the election,” said Kaczmarek. “Again more chain of custody, keeping track of anyone having access to the machine and memory cards, who’s in the tabulation room, everything has to be closely watched.”

“The one good thing about bringing it to the County Clerk’s Office is I work with the county department,” added Hinds. “So we can work with the IT department to make sure we’re secure and it’s not a separate entity like it is today. So I can use all my resources at my disposal at the county and work with the IT department to make sure our systems are secure, accurate, and make sure everything is done right.”

Where the two candidates differ however, was in their potential work with the election commission. While Hinds does not plan to act as chairman over the election commission if he were re-elected as County Clerk, Kaczmarek plans to take on that role.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.