ECC hosts forum for Elgin mayoral candidates

Cole Christensen, Staff Writer

On March 21, 2023, ECC hosted a forum for Elgin’s mayoral candidates at the Jobe Lounge in Building B. Incumbent Mayor Dave Kaptain and City Councilman Corey Dixon answered questions given by the forum’s moderators as well as the students. Conjoined with a taco truck, raffle, and the Kane County Vote Mobile, “Party at the Polls” was a non-partisan effort by ECC to promote the city’s upcoming election on April 4.

Since this event, Kaptain defeated Dixon in the April 4 election.

“Incumbents have the advantage because of name recognition,” explains ECC political science professor Dr. Letasha DeHaan, who was one of the moderator’s at the forum.

“The residents of Elgin know Kaptain,” DeHaan said. “He’s also had the opportunity to implement policies that have benefitted Elgin city residents.”

Despite losing, Dixon made an impact on students who previously knew nothing about local politics, such as Samuel Gottstein, who stopped by the forum on his way to the library.

“[Dixon] answered some of the questions more directly and more pertinently,” Gottstein said. “[It’s] tough to weigh [Kaptain’s] experience against [Dixon’s] fresh perspectives and youth and all that.”

While Gottstein doesn’t know Dixon personally, he notes that Dixon assisted his friends in launching a new floral shop in Elgin.

Through businesses and infrastructure, Dixon pushed for greater action to be taken to turn the downtown area into a more desirable place for residents.

From DeHaan’s viewpoint, Dixon “wanted to make sure that Elgin is a walkable city, there’s entertainment, new industry, [and] that some of the city contracts are going to diverse vendors.”

Dixon’s thoughts on making Elgin more pedestrian-friendly was a large reason Gottstein favored Dixon.

“What I really care about is being able to ride my bike [to ECC] safely,” Gottstein said. “Riding down Fleetwood Drive here is a death trap with trucks pulling in and out.”

Elgin City Councilwoman Tish Powell, who came to ECC’s forum in support of Dixon, praises him for his innovative mindset.

“I’m excited about some of the things I’ve seen and heard from [Dixon],” explains Powell. “I’ve worked with him for the last 4 or 6 years on the council. He’s brought a whole lot of new ideas and energy to that role.”

During the forum, Dixon seemed to take an assertive approach to Elgin’s issues, while Kaptain concurred with many of Dixon’s positions. With Kaptain’s name identity, it’s not easy winning against an incumbent. Part of the reason is the low turnout from younger adults.

“Over half of those that turn out to vote [in local elections] are [55+] and the lowest turnout is those who are 18-29,” DeHaan.

To address the lack of young voters, DeHaan believes that events such as the forum and “Party at the Polls” are ways to meaningfully improve that statistic. It helps to have younger candidates running for office as well.

“They need someone to come [up] with fresh ideas to enfranchise the youth to get out to vote and also to challenge them to assure that they’re going to represent the people in the best manner possible,” DeHaan said. 

While Dixon did not win the election, Kaptain confirmed that this will be his last term, leaving room for two non-incumbents to compete for the mayoral position in four years.