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Joliet council candidate’s campaign mailer draws concern at public meeting

A campaign mailing sent to the homes of Joliet policemen by a candidate running for an at-large city council seat in the April 4 election stirred concern at a recent public meeting.

Two incumbent candidates running for re-election also took a moment to criticize the actions of their opponent.

Mike DeVito, president of the Joliet patrol officer’s union, noted the dangers that police officers across the nation face in today’s world and said an issue has now been raised in the city.

“This is deeply concerning not because of the content of the political mailer, but because someone accessed the home addresses of every single Joliet police officer and is in possession of such a list,” he said. “Our officers proudly come to work everyday in hopes of making the community a safer place to live for all our residents. We should not have to be worried about the safety our spouses and children when they’re home and the officers are on their respective shifts.”

“While we can appreciate the need for a political candidate to try and win votes any way that he or she can, I’m concerned about these recent turn of events,” DeVito said.

DeVito insisted that Rachel Ventura, who is running for an at-large city council seat, publicly apologize and said he would like for her to reveal who provided her with this confidential information.

Ventura took to the podium to explain what happened to the Joliet City Council.

“I bought the voter list from the county clerk’s office, which is available to all people running as a candidate,” she said. “I then looked on our city website where our salaries are posted because we, as taxpayers, have the right to know the names, who we pay for, the titles, and how much we get paid. I then compared the names of the police officers on that list to the voter records.”

Councilwoman Jan Quillman said as a wife of a police officer, she finds this very disheartening.

“I have been running for a long time and I’ve never had access, and nor if I did I would never have used that list for my own benefit because I know what risk it could put not only the police officer, but his family’s risk especially if they’re undercover, ” she said. “I just can’t believe this.”

Councilwoman Brooke Hernandez Brewer noted that she’s the wife of a deputy for the county and said she’s also concerned.

“Even putting together a list like that endangers the life of our officers,” she said. “The fact that you’re not aware of that and that you would put a political move above the safety of our children, … I’m sorry but our children, his children, any other officer’s child is way more important than putting together a list like that. Do you know what could happen if those lists get into the wrong hands?”

Ventura questioned the extent to which her mailing put lives at risk and said she sent a mailing that identified the recipient’s name, just like any other individual could receive.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said he’s aware of the situation at hand.

“I think the issue is because it’s happened since I’ve been here it’s happened twice where a Joliet policeman had their houses shot up,” O’Dekirk said. “One officer his house was shot with an AK-47. So, it’s information that’s very closely kept on the police department. It’s even state law— now, it wasn’t when I was a policeman— but police officers don’t have to list their home addresses on their driver’s licenses. So, it’s somewhat of a concern.”

“I know Inspector General [Chris] Regis is looking into it, and Chief [Brian Benton,] I think you have an internal investigation going on this,” O’Dekirk said. “Just to make it clear, I don’t have access to that roster. The chief doesn’t have access to that roster. So, I don’t know it could’ve been leaked, but we’re going to find out.”

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