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County board chairman hopefuls talk about COVID-19 rules during candidate forum

Candidates talk about whether enough is being done to ensure rules are being followed

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ST. CHARLES – The question of whether county officials are doing enough to make sure businesses and organizations are complying with COVID-19 restrictions was raised during a Zoom candidate forum Wednesday for chairman of the Kane County Board.

The forum was hosted by the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee. Republican David Rickert of Elgin is running against Democrat Corinne Pierog of Batavia. Rickert, who serves as Kane County treasurer, was first elected Kane County treasurer in November 1998. Pierog served two terms on the St. Charles Dist. 303 School Board.

During the forum, the two candidates were asked about Sunday's pro-Trump rally at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles. Few of those attending the rally were wearing face masks or practicing social distancing. The state requires that everyone older than two years old who can medically tolerate a face covering over their nose and mouth must wear one in a public place when unable to maintain a safe distance (6 feet) from others.

Pierog said she was near the fairgrounds at the time of the rally.

"I saw children packed into open trucks screaming their support for the current president," she said.

She said more needs to be done at the county level to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 restrictions, which in turn will help protect the health and safety of residents.

"There is a way to lead both gently and firmly at the same time to encourage best practices and this I am not seeing on the county level at all," Pierog said. "I hope in all sincerity that all those people who attended that event on Sunday don't get COVID, that they don't transmit it into their communities."

If elected, Pierog said she would encourage mask wearing.

"One of the first things I would do if elected is to make sure that there is a public mask policy," she said. "I can't demand that you wear a mask, but I can sure as heck encourage you to do so. Because I want you to have your job and I want your business to continue. And I want my church to be reopened."

Rickert said that the enforcement of rules and regulations in the county is a shared responsibility.

"The ultimate authority on enforcement rests with the Kane County State's Attorney," he said. "The State's Attorney will determine whether or not a law is being broken and enforcement action is necessary. And that is work that is done very closely with the Kane County Sheriff's Office, because they are the enforcement mechanism to do that."

He noted that COVID-19 rules are spelled out by the Kane County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Ultimately, the Kane County Board chairman could weigh in on that issue, but the decision rests with the State's Attorney and the Sheriff's Office on how, what and where they plan to implement the code enforcement as required by the state and federal government," Rickert said. "The chairman can no more tell the Kane County Sheriff how to do that then your average citizen. In my opinion, the role of the chairman is to facilitate action on a strategic level for the county."

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