Lou Gale: 2022 candidate for Cook County Board District 17
City: La Grange
Previous offices held: Trustee, village of La Grange. Precinct Committeeman, Sangamon County, Illinois
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 have a passion for public services in order to make people's lives better. That passion drove me to run to become a trustee in the village of La Grange. I now want to take the lessons I have learned and skills I have gained to a higher level of government to help more people. As a Cook County Commissioner I will focus on reducing gun violence in our community, putting more of our neighbors back to work in jobs that support their families, providing the resources and leadership needed to maintain and enhance our natural spaces and forest preserves, and readying our communities and infrastructure for a changing climate.
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: Yes and I would support that requirement in the future.
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: Yes. I like the small business grant program that Cook County implemented to help businesses impacted by COVID. I also think that Cook County's roll out of vaccine clinics indirectly helped businesses by allowing employees, employers and customers to resume normal business activities earlier that would have otherwise been possible.
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: Individuals accused of felonies, in particular violent crimes, and who pose a threat to the community need to be in jail while ensuring them the right to a speedy trial. Cases need to be prosecuted without delay to ensure people's constitutional rights and so that those guilty of committing crimes can be lawfully incarcerated. Further, the electronic monitoring program needs to be revamped to ensure that if it is abused, individuals face bail revocation. I think Cook County also needs to address the increase in gun violence in our region by addressing what is making that increase possible: the flood of illegal guns pouring into our region from neighboring states. Officials can rail against the increase in crime but not doing anything to address the cause is irresponsible and endangers our communities.
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: I support a comprehensive public safety program which includes investments in economic and community development to tackle the root causes of crime, law enforcement, prosecutors, and public defenders. These concepts are not mutually exclusive. I would not support a resolution that reduces or limits resources available to law enforcement. Investments in communities and the use of health professionals are effective and smart methods to support public safety, and allows our police to focus their efforts on law enforcement. As the Cook County Sheriff is funded by the county board, I will work with the sheriff to ensure those in our jails with mental health issues are treated with compassion and understanding. I will support efforts to increase training on de-escalation techniques by police and conduct live exercises to refine these skills as well as the use of health professionals in response to calls to law enforcement.
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 would as long as the revenue that would be lost is replaced from other sources so that revenue available for infrastructure improvements is not negatively impacted.