PORTAGE PARK — Two Portage Park law enforcement officers are among the nine candidates vying to replace retiring Ald. Tim Cullerton (38th).
Both Chicago Police Officer Mike Keeney and Cook County Forest Preserve Sgt. Jerry Paszek said the Jefferson Park Police District, which includes most of Portage Park and Dunning, needs more police officers.
Keeney, who worked as a tactical officer in Englewood for three years before transferring to the Jefferson Park Police District in October, said additional officers are needed to address an increasing number of property crimes.
"There are too many cars being sent out with just one officer," said Keeney, who has a 3-year-son and a 7-year-old daughter who attends St. Robert Bellarmine School.
Paszek, who has been with the forest preserve police for 23 years and is president of the sergeants union, said the size of the beats within the Jefferson Park Police District should be reduced to allow officers to patrol a reasonable area and anticipate problems.
"Public safety and city services would be my highest priorities," said Paszek, who has a daughter in second grade and a son in third grade at Chicago Public Schools selective-enrollment schools.
Paszek and Keeney are two of nine candidates in the race for the 38th Ward seat that has belonged to a member of the Cullerton family since 1973.
Those candidates are Ald. Nicholas Sposato (36th); Heather Sattler, the chief operating officer of the 100 Club of Chicago; Belinda Cadiz; Realtor Tom Caravette; John Cianci; Michael C. Duda and city water investigator Carmen Hernandez.
The Feb. 24 election will be the first under a new City Council map that moved most of Dunning from the 36th Ward into the 38th Ward.
"There may not be a need for a Progressive Caucus," Paszek said, adding he would consider endorsing mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.
Keeney, who left a career in education to become a police officer and has a degree in political science, said at City Hall he would work "to build relationships that benefit 38th Ward residents."
While Paszek said he would consider a property tax increase "as a last resort" to cover the $550 million pension payment that the state Legislature has ordered the city to make to police and fire pension systems by 2016, Keeney said he would oppose a tax hike.
"Tax increment financing funds should be public and spent appropriately," Keeney said.
Paszek held his first fundraiser Nov. 21. Keeney has not yet created a campaign finance committee, according to state records.
Paszek, who was a precinct captain for former Ald. Pat Levar (45th), ran for 41st Ward alderman in 1995.
In races where no candidate earns 50 percent of the votes cast on Feb. 24, a runoff between the top two candidates will take place April 7.
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