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GOP candidates for Cook County Board discuss criminal justice, mental health

Republican candidates for the Cook County Board’s 9th District seat say top county leaders are failing to keep residents safe and they would work to reform the county’s criminal justice system if elected.

Mark Hosty of River Forest, Matthew Podgorski of Chicago and Frank Coconate of Chicago are seeking the GOP nomination for the board seat in the June 28 primary.

Currently represented by Republican Peter Silvestri, who is not seeking reelection, the 9th District includes parts of Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights and Des Plaines.

Hosty, a 53-year-old real estate broker who served 16 years as a Forest Park village commissioner, argues that the policies of State’s Attorney Kim Foxx are keeping violent offenders on the street.

“We need to show people there are consequences. Right now we have lawlessness because we don’t have consequences to actions,” he said.

Hosty also said the judicial system needs to be more efficient.

“So if they were to speed up the process in which they adjudicated these crimes, they would be out of our jail system faster. They would be less of a burden on the county financially,” he said.

Podgorski, 42, director of logistics for a food service wholesaler, criticized the county’s use of electronic home monitoring to lower the jail population.

“That program has been atrocious. We’re letting people out who have allegedly committed violent crimes on electronic monitoring,” he said.

He believes the answer is more “proactive policing,” holding the view that preventing petty crimes can also keep more serious offenses from happening.

Coconate, a 64-year-old security guard and anti-violence activist, said he would like to sit down with Foxx, Sheriff Tom Dart and other lawmakers to advocate for the reinstatement of the death penalty.

“If you shoot a young child or a police officer, it’s the death penalty,” he said.

Hosty said he supports offering more mental health treatment, but not at the expense of law enforcement budgets.

“We have to protect society from those who are dangerous with mental health issues,” he said.

“But if you start talking about taking away money from cops to do that, you’re insane and you’ll have a fight with me every step of the way.”

Podgorski said most crimes blamed on drug addicts and gang members.

“I think we need to give the cops what they need to do their job and support them morally, too,” he said.

Coconate said the sheriff’s office — which he called a “political tool” — needs to be reformed.

“I think the department has to be reevaluated and redone where mental health is a big part of the process with the sheriff’s office and the jails,” he said.

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