Des Plaines clerk candidate questions rival's political connections

  • Justin Cochran and Jessica Mastalski are candidates for Des Plaines city clerk.

    Justin Cochran and Jessica Mastalski are candidates for Des Plaines city clerk.

 
 
Updated 3/21/2021 10:25 PM

The political connections of a Des Plaines city clerk candidate have become a point of friction between him and his opponent in the April 6 election.

Clerk hopeful Justin Cochran works as chief of staff to Democratic state Rep. Martin J. Moylan, a former Des Plaines mayor who represents the 55th District in the legislature. Moylan's son, Colt, is the alderman for Des Plaines' 2nd Ward.

 

Cochran's rival for the post, Jessica Mastalski, has touted that she's the only candidate who doesn't have professional ties to other politicians. Mastalski works for a credit union.

The candidates spoke about this issue and others in a joint, online interview with the Daily Herald.

Mastalski said the clerk's job is to provide "clear information on what is going on" to residents, not to get involved with the issues facing the city.

"It's a nonpartisan position," Mastalski said. "There's no need to bring politics in."

Mastalski added: "Outside viewpoints, outside political connections ... shouldn't be brought into this position."

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In response, Cochran noted that the clerk doesn't vote on issues before the city council, and as such there's no reason the clerk should be involved in "partisan bickering" with the council.

Cochran, who has worked for Moylan since 2019, called the idea of a possible conflict of interest between the two jobs "farcical." Still, to prevent any problems, Cochran said he'll assign staffers in Moylan's office to handle issues involving Des Plaines residents if he's elected clerk.

"I can focus on other areas of the 55th District," he said.

That didn't sit well with Mastalski, who said such a shift would be a disservice to the constituents of the district and the taxpayers who live in Des Plaines and help pay Cochran's legislative staff salary.

"That's not fair to the people of Des Plaines," she said. "It shouldn't be a give and a take."

Political connections in the clerk's office aren't new in Des Plaines.

The current clerk, Jennifer Tsalapatanis, is the daughter of 5th Ward Alderman Carla Brookman and former Alderman Jim Brookman. Tsalapatanis isn't seeking reelection.

The clerk's post is a part-time job that, by statute, comes with a $6,000 annual salary.

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