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Crime fighters running for police council

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Cacciottolo, Huff in four-way race 

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By Tim Hadac

Two men from Garfield Ridge are among four people vying for three spots on the newly created Chicago Lawn (8th) District Police Council.

Al Cacciottolo, longtime president of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch and one of Chicago’s most active civilian crime fighters, is one.

The other is Jason Huff, president of the Garfield Ridge Civic League. He also serves as president of the Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch and has been active in recent years as a crime fighter.

The term of office is four years, and the election will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28. Early voting in all 50 wards begins Monday, Feb. 13.

The new police councils were created by an ordinance passed by the City Council in July 2021.

According to the City of Chicago website, “the ordinance creates two bodies: a citywide Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, with power to advance systemic reform, and District Councils, which will be elected in each police district and work to improve policing and public safety in the district. The Commission and District Councils will bring police officers and Chicago residents together to plan, prioritize, and build mutual trust; strengthen the police accountability system; give Chicagoans a meaningful new role in oversight; and explore and advance alternative effective approaches to public safety.”

There are 22 police districts in the city.

The 8th District includes all of Clearing and Garfield Ridge, as well as most of the rest of the Southwest Side.

Cacciottolo, 59, is an Archer Heights native. He attended Curie High School and has been active in Southwest Side community improvement efforts since 1982. He currently works as a district supervisor for the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation.

He also has owned businesses in the area and for years has been a driving force behind the Midway Chamber of Commerce (formerly the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce).

Long a supporter of law enforcement, Cacciottolo said he is running for the new police council “to make sure everyone in the community has a voice, including individual residents and the police themselves.”

“Utilizing modern technology and open lines of communication, we as a community must support our police; and in turn, they will continually want to be part of our communities to keep us safe,” he continued.

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Huff, 39, is a lifelong Southwest Sider. He attended Kennedy High School. He is currently employed by the Chicago Department of Finance as a supervisor in the street operations division.

Over the last six years, he has been a leader in reviving the Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch. The effort was so successful, the SNW absorbed the Scottsdale Homeowners Association, which had fallen on hard times.

Huff told the Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound he is running “to be a voice of common sense for the average resident. While I looked at other political offices to make a run I felt this would the most beneficial to speak on behalf of the average citizen who has been sidelined by progressives and other leaders in the political field.

“I want to be able to work with others to build better police relationships with citizens while also supporting officers by allowing them to do their job without more restrictions then they currently have now. While we all know every profession has a few bad employees, you can’t restrict an entire department from doing their job at the safety of the city.

If elected, Huff said he plans to “continue building better relationships with officers and residents of the district, specifically the youth and minorities of the district. I believe if we can help bridge the gap between those two groups of people it will help drive down crime.

“I won’t support any new policies that further restrict officers from keeping citizens safe, but will do my best to work collaboratively with the rest to get through the agenda presented to us,” Huff added.

The other two candidates are Ashburn residents Mark Hamberlin and Letina Brady Pettis.

Hamberlin, 51, is a former school teacher, as well as an IHSA referee and a union steward. He works full time as a licensed exterminator.

He said he is running “because I know that I can bridge the gap between police and citizens…I deal with all walks of life people on a daily basis I am a humble servant and ready to serve.”

In fact, the words “humble servant” describe Hamberlin’s life perhaps better than any other words, he said. He has a track record of working with people, especially the young, to turn their lives around in positive directions.

Hamberlin also is a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

He noted that he recently earned the endorsement of the liberal Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization. He also said he is backed by three aldermen in the south and east ends of the district: Stephanie Coleman (16th), David Moore (17th) and Derrick Curtis (18th).

Pettis is a lifelong Chicagoan who is a member of various organizations, including the League of Women Voters of Chicago, an Associate Member of the National Women Veterans United, a charter member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women-Chicago Metropolitan Chapter, National Council of Negro Women-Chicago Central Section, and president of the National Association of University Women-Windy City Branch.

She has a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University, a master’s degree in Legal Studies from Purdue Global University and a Diversity and Inclusion Certification from Cornell University.

She has been active in the effort to give convicted felons the right to vote.

Pettis said she is running “to influence change.” She said she “wants to help create new initiatives and policies and is committed to restorative justice. She seeks to proactively engage the community and police in healing practices to build stronger communities, allowing both entities to speak and use their voices as a platform for change.

View of police

In terms of where the four are in terms of their view of the police, Cacciottolo appears to be the most supportive of the traditional way of policing. As president of the GRNW, he has for years offered unflinching support of law enforcement.

Huff also is a supporter of traditional policing; although as SNW president, he has crossed swords with 8th District police officials, as well as brass at CPD headquarters, to advocate for more police presence in Scottsdale, as well as immediately north, at Ford City.

Hamberlin has mostly avoided public pronouncements about his view of policing as it exists in 2023 and instead has continued to emphasize his “humble servant” theme.

Brady Pettis is a supporter of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, a group that describes itself as “committed to winning community (democratic) control over the police, reversing today’s use of the police by the ruling class to terrorize and subjugate our black, brown, indigenous and other oppressed communities. Community control is a revolutionary goal, undermining the monopoly on force by the capitalist ruling class.”

CAARPR pushed for the ordinance that created the new police councils, and it is running candidates in every police district. CAARPR leader Frank Chapman said at a public forum this month that his group expects leftist activists from across the nation to flood Chicago neighborhoods and help elect CAARPR candidates.

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