Love of nature drives Forest Preserve candidates
Hometown: Downers Grove
Family life: single
Education: political science degree from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago
Hometown: Oak Brook
Family life: married
Education: degree in business from Drake University
Contact: (630) 832-8600, joecantore.com
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:41PM
OAK BROOK — Candidates Don Kirchenberg and Joe Cantore share a love of the outdoors.
Both men say it is a commitment to the environment that drives them to seek a seat on the DuPage County Forest Preserve Board.
“I love the open spaces,” said Kirchenberg, who is taking on incumbent Cantore in the race for District 2 commissioner.
Cantore has held the position for 10 years. In that time Cantore said he has consistently worked toward five goals: to acquire more open space, to make those spaces more accessible, to take care of the environment, to control taxing and spending and to end forest preserve condemnation of private property.
“I think these five issues are still there. They’re still important,” Cantore said.
This will be Kirchenberg’s second quest for a seat on the Forest Preserve Board. He ran in the primary for District 4 a few years ago.
He has served as volunteer president of the Illinois Prairie Path for seven years and founded the Friends of the Great Western Trails organization. In 2001 Kirchenberg led a fight to save Glacial Ridge Forest Preserve in Lombard, helping to raise $10,000 toward its preservation.
“We fought for it,” said Kirchenberg, who now wants a chance to fight for what he sees as unnecessary spending and unfair practices on the board.
He calls the current salary and benefits package for forest preserve commissioners “excessive” and will work, if elected, to scale them back.
“I think our salaries should be cut down,” Cantore agreed.
In fact, Cantore pushed to cut the current salary and was successful in cutting it by 7 percent.
But Cantore said the job of commissioner takes far more than the minimum 1,000 hours required.
“Anybody who is on that board already knows … it is far more than a part-time job,” he said.
Kirchenberg also would like the board to videotape and broadcast its meetings.
“On the surface, it makes sense,” Cantore said.
But in reality, he said, the presence of a camera can lead to grandstanding by board members as well as members of the public.
He said he would rather keep the attention on the job he was elected to do.
“It is my way of giving back,” Cantore said.
He said claims by his opponent that the Forest Preserve Board awards single-bid contracts to its favorite companies are false.
“It is simply not true,” he said “Our no-bid contracts are for professional services,” he said, for which state law prohibits competitive bidding.