CHICAGO — There’s a little-known position up for grabs next February that could reshape how Chicago residents interact with police officers.
On Feb. 28, for the first time ever, voters will choose representatives for local police district councils.
In each of the city’s 22 police districts, voters will elect three members.
Sam Schoenberg is part of a three-person slate running in the 19th district on the North Side. In all, six candidates are running in the district.
“We really want to put the community’s voice at the center of public safety and policing,” Schoenberg said.
But Schoenberg, Maurillo Garcia and Jenny Schafer are facing a challenge to their petition. The objector states municipal candidates are not allowed to run as a slate.
“What we were told is that objections to signatures for my slate along with Jenny and Maurillo, and also objections to two other slates that are running in two different districts on the North Side, were delivered to the election office in a Fraternal Order of Police envelope,” Schoenberg said.
Perry Abbasi, a candidate himself for the 25th district, was hired by the FOP to challenge slates in the 19th, 20th and 24th districts.
“There are three seats in each district council, the top three get elected,” Abbasi said. “The question is whether non-partisan candidates can run together as a slate with one set of petitions in the way that’s allowed within a party.”
The Board of Elections will hear the objections sometime in the coming weeks.
While the Schoenberg slate pushes reform, over the 16th police district, Dan Martin wants more pro-police policies.
Martin is one of seven candidates running in the 16th district.
“Here to back the police and just sort of restore the faith in the police officers so we make it a job people want to be,” Martin said. “I live here. I care about it. I want to be safe. I want police officers. My friends and family are cops already.”
The local police district councils were born out of the push for civilian oversight of police.
The goal of the councils is to build connections between police and the community, develop community policing, meet monthly, expand restorative justice programs and nominate members to a Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.