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updated: 10/22/2010 9:57 PM

DuPage forest preserve candidates highlight differences

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  • Hilary Denk

    Hilary Denk

  • Joseph Cantore

    Joseph Cantore


Incumbent Joseph Cantore says he's kept promises made during his eight years as a DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioner.

As a result, the Oakbrook Terrace Republican said, the forest preserve district has increased services, expanded existing programs and acquired more land while keeping taxes low.

But the Democrat gunning for Cantore's District 2 seat is attempting to portray him as an out-of-touch politician who hasn't done enough to monitor spending.

"I would bring more fiscal scrutiny to the board," said Hilary Denk of Downers Grove. "Joe says in general terms that they've been lowering taxes, but they really haven't. In the last eight years, the tax levy has gone up four times."

Cantore responded by saying Denk is misinformed about the budget, adding that he and other commissioners are the reason the district has a balanced spending plan.

The exchange between the candidates happened during a recent Daily Herald endorsement interview. Cantore and Denk disagreed on nearly every issue during the session.

Denk took aim first by claiming Cantore doesn't communicate with the public.

"I have been a constituent of Joe's for eight years," she said. "I have not heard once from him about what he's done and how he's been spending my money."

If elected, Denk said she would use social media, speak to reporters and meet with District 2 residents.

"Just because somebody's on Facebook doesn't mean they're available," Cantore countered. "That's almost laughable. Anybody can get a hold of me anytime they want. And they do."

Cantore said he often gets phone calls and e-mails from constituents. He also said the district has made a concerted effort to be more transparent through its newsletter and website.

Still, Denk said the website doesn't do a good enough job of providing financial information for residents. "That is something that I will change," she said.

Cantore and Denk also have different opinions about a plan to build a new maintenance garage at Blackwell Forest Preserve near Warrenville.

Cantore said he has no problem putting the garage near McKee Marsh off Mack Road as long as it's smaller than the proposed 29,000 square feet.

Denk said she is opposed to having the facility at that spot. She suggested that an alternate site should be found, preferably not in another forest preserve.

Cantore said the problem with that idea is the Blackwell site was chosen because there's already a fueling facility there.

"So now we're supposed to go out and buy more land to put the garage when we already have land?" Cantore said. "The economy is bad and land prices are low. But trying to find the right piece of land in the right spot, not so easy."

District 2 covers all or parts of Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Lisle, Lombard, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Villa Park, Westmont and Woodridge.