Elgin mayoral candidates go on the attack in recent voter forum

The Elgin mayoral candidates came out swinging during a recent voter forum, throwing jabs at each other on issues that they consider the other to be vulnerable.

Incumbent Mayor David Kaptain, who is seeking his fourth term, and city council member Corey Dixon participated in a discussion with moderator Chuck Keysor at a voter forum at Journey of Hope Church in Elgin last week. Keysor allowed each man to ask the other the first question of the night, with Dixon questioning Kaptain's record on the city's lead pipe issue and the mayor calling attention to late filings of Dixon's campaign finance documents with the state and the fines that followed.

Both men had answers to neutralize the questions.

Dixon highlighted Kaptain's repeated assertions during the campaign that his experience as retired chief chemist and director of process control for the Fox River Water Reclamation District made him uniquely qualified to handle the city's lead pipe issue.

Dixon said the issue, which will require the city to replace roughly 13,000 lead service pipes for more than $135 million, has been around since the start of Kaptain's career, then through his six years on the city council and 12 as mayor.

"What makes us believe that now, all of a sudden, you're going to address the issue?" Dixon asked.

Kaptain said Elgin homes met the requirement for the amount of lead in water samples until the standards changed in 2020.

"That's very typical of when you work in the water and wastewater business," Kaptain said. "The standards and the regulations get tighter and tighter. We're not the only city that has that problem. Every older city just about in the Midwest has the same problem."

Kaptain said one of his job responsibilities with the water reclamation district was to make sure requirements on lead levels in water samples were met.

"Now those requirements have gotten tighter, and it's going to be a challenge for us," he said. "Why do I think I can do the best job? Because I did that job for 30 years to meet those requirements."

Kaptain then took the offensive, questioning why Dixon tabled an effort to strengthen the city's ethics ordinance a couple of years ago.

He also asked about fines Dixon had received from the Illinois Board of Elections.

Dixon was fined repeatedly from 2019 to 2022 for missing deadlines to submit quarterly financial reports on money collected and spent by his campaign. He settled the fines in January.

"Why should the people of Elgin trust you to overlook their money and supervise their funding on a budget when you have problems with your own?" Kaptain asked.

Dixon strongly refuted both notions, saying he ultimately voted for the ethics ordinance and denied any insinuation of financial impropriety.

"He's not telling the whole truth," Dixon said. "He's telling half-truths."

On the issue of the ethics ordinance, he said he was part of a council majority that voted to table it before approving it when it came up for a final vote.

"He's telling you a half-truth to try to trick you and manipulate you into believing that I am not for good government," Dixon said.

As for the filings, Dixon said the issue happened before he declared to run for mayor and had nothing to do with any misappropriation.

"What we're talking about is simply filing late paperwork, which I take full responsibility for," he said. "I made a mistake there, and I adjusted. And it's never going to happen again."

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