Daniel T. Calandriello: 2022 candidate for Cook County Board District 17
City: Orland Park
Previous offices held: Village of Orland Park Trustee (2013-2021)
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
A: I am running for commissioner because it is time for an experienced leader who will bring a fresh approach to county government. As a former Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, I know what it takes to protect our families. I have done it in the courtroom and will do it in the board room. We need to make investments in public safety and in mental health services. As a former Orland Park Trustee, I have passed seven balanced budgets, never raising property taxes. We need these traits in Cook County government. I helped our businesses with market-based incentives, and I want to use that experience to make Cook County businesses competitive. Finally, it's time to work together and get things done for our constituents instead of fighting and tweeting about the problem. I have worked with people from all parties and all backgrounds to get things done. These are my primary motivators in serving my neighbors as their Cook County Commissioner.
Q: Cook County was alone in the six-county Chicago area to require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter restaurants, bars and other establishments earlier this year. Did you agree with that decision, and would you support reimposing that requirement should the region face another surge in infections?
A: I will follow the science when it comes to COVID-19 safety procedures and will always support science based mitigation efforts. During the height of the pandemic, I supported these mitigation methods in our community, especially before vaccinations were widely available. We need to make sure our businesses thrive while keeping our residents safe. In the future, I will turn to the health authorities for advice before making decisions regarding COVID mitigation.
Q: Did the county do enough to support businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic? If yes, please name one specific program you supported that did that. If no, please name one specific action the county could have taken to help.
A: The county board helped provide business owners, nonprofit and contract workers with access to the federal stimulus package, deferred tax collections and extended license requirements providing businesses breathing room. These were good steps and were done early on during the pandemic. I pushed for these types of incentives in Orland Park, which the board approved unanimously. I would like the county board to go the next step, which we did in Orland Park, and provide market-based tax incentives to jump start recovery and redevelopment. We need to help our local businesses, especially the businesses in the 17th District who compete with those in Will and DuPage Counties.
Q: There's been a concerted effort within the county's criminal justice system to incarcerate fewer pretrial defendants in the county jail. Some, particularly in the suburbs, blame this for a rise in crime. Do you support these policies? If not, what would you suggest instead?
A: We need to elect board members with actual experience in the criminal justice system. As a former Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, I have that experience. There are ways to protect victims, the accused and society at the same time. The board needs to increase funding for our county sheriff and local law enforcement to address recent legislation. I support the advocacy of Sheriff Tom Dart regarding the needs to address the Electric Monitoring Program and violent offenders. The Cook County Jail is the largest mental health hospital in Illinois with half the inmates suffering from some form of mental health disease. We need to proactively use our county health system to provide mental health treatment to prevent unnecessary incarceration. We need to make sure all police departments have access to mental health training to provide prompt and appropriate care on the street since the police are on the front lines of this crisis; this should be available to all departments.
Q: In July 2020, the county board passed a resolution that called for, in part, the county to "redirect funds from policing and incarceration to public services not administered by law enforcement." Did or do you support this measure and the philosophy behind it? Why or why not?
A: This was a nonbinding resolution that harmed the critical relationship between police and the public. If I'm elected, I will focus on investing in the programs needed to address these issues and make sure that today's problems get addressed today, not in the next generation. We need to provide funding for services like mental health and technology, which the County Sheriff's Office and other police departments are requesting. At the end of the day we all want and deserve to feel safe where we live.
Q: Some elected officials have proposed a "gas-tax holiday" to ease the burden of rising gasoline prices on county residents. Would you support such a proposal for Cook County? Why or why not?
A: I support easing the burden of rising gasoline prices on county residents and would welcome some type of "gas-tax holiday." Our residents are being confronted with rising costs of everyday goods, including increasing gas prices caused by the current conflict overseas, while they are still trying to recover from financial losses due to the pandemic. A "gas-tax holiday" is a feasible way to provide some relief to residents.