Full Name: Charles Cappell
What office are you seeking? Village Trustee for the Village of Campton Hills
What is your political party? Non-Partisan Election, but Democratic
What is your current age? 76
Occupation and Employer: Retired. Professor Emeritus, Sociology, Northern Illinois University
What offices, if any, have you previously held? Trustee, Board of Trustees, Village of Campton Hills.
City: Campton Hills, IL
Education: Ph.D. Sociology 1982. University of Chicago.
Dissertation: Professional Projects and the Private Production of Law. Dissertation Areas of Research: Sociology of Law, Professions
Special field examinations: (1) Advanced Applied Statistics; (2) Community and Urban Systems Languages: German: Ph.D. Language Exam (high pass). French: Reading Knowledge
M.A. Sociology 1974. University of Illinois (Chicago) 1973‑1974
M.A. Thesis: The Etiology of Child Abuse B.A. MacMurray College 1964‑1968, Jacksonville, Ill. Major: Physics Minor: Mathematics.
Community involvement: Co-Facilitator, Geneva Learners. A weekly discussion group focusing on current affairs, domestic and foreign.
Marital status/Immediate family: Married, one adult child and a daughter-in-law.
Why are you running for office?
I possess a continuing willingness to offer my skills for public service. I helped create the Village of Campton Hills in 2007 and remain committed to our exercise in local democracy. I also learn a great deal about municipal finance, law, and public works. Many of the issues we deliberate upon motivate me to continue my research into substantive matters as well. I advocate for ‘deliberative democracy’; my involvement in local governance allows me to practice it. I pursue no grievance nor particular personal interests.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
My past years of experience, since 2005, with protecting our local ecology and founding the Village give me an exceptional understanding of the need for local democracy and self-rule. I was an integral part of the original Preserve Campton movement that challenged the Elgin annexation of parts of northern Campton Township. Then I was an integral part of the Village Incorporation Committee that eventually led to a successful referendum establishing the Village. Then I served on the first Board of Trustees that created the governing structure of the Village administration. I was the co-chair, along with a retired police chief, of a committee that created the process by which our police department was established and hired our first police Village Chief. I also researched, using the Census of Governments and State Police Crime Reports what our likely law enforcement burdens and funding needs would be.
The skills I bring to the Village Trustee position include scientific/statistical/critical thinking orientations to practical problem-solving and policy development. I try to convert claims and conclusions into working hypotheses; then ask what evidence is needed to assess and challenge the validity of the working hypotheses; then reflect on what alternative hypotheses should be considered. I think the norms of the scientific method and the deliberate style of argument and truth-searching found in academia are extremely relevant to public governance.
What is your position on the Illinois weapons ban that took effect in January 2023?
I was a N.I.U. faculty member in 2018 when our campus was the victim of a mass shooting.
The horror and trauma of that event and its aftermaths overtake an abstract discussion of regulating weapons.
That stipulated, I support the suspension of sales of assault weapons designed as tools to inflict mass casualties in war theaters to private persons. I approach gun violence as a public health epidemic and rely on that research to help me decide what policies will be effective. This issue can’t be fixed at the local level. And I despair that solutions reducing violence will be adopted and sustained.
Is crime a problem in your community and, if so, what would you do to curb it?
The Village of Campton Hills has very low crime rates. The biggest correlate with crime is a community’s measure of ‘cumulated disadvantage’ among its population. We are a demographically advantaged community and our community-relations oriented police force continually broadcasts to residents protections to take to prevent ‘crimes of opportunity’.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
Because of my statistical training, I followed the epidemiological literature and analyzed myself the trends of COVID contagion in Kane County and Illinois. I sided with the ‘let’s follow the science’ contingent in the debate. Our local officials followed the guidelines and encouraged residents and businesses to comply as well. With the limited capacities available, they primarily sought voluntary compliance which was largely adopted, with one or two notable exceptions. I supplied our local officials with my own analysis of the COVID incidence and prevalence data to cross-validate public claims. I think they understood how scientific knowledge is conditional upon updated data and followed changing recommendations.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
Primarily I became more concerned about our public health organizations and systems. I was impressed by the ‘Warp Speed’ effort to bring mRNA vaccines to market and far less impressed with the initial deployment. We science trained and oriented citizens remain concerned about how public health measures and mitigations have become politicized. It is encouraging that in Kane Co., 90% of the most susceptible to COVID, > 65 years old, are now vaccinated. Epidemiologists remain vigilant about new variants, so there is an improved level of perceived seriousness.
How would you spur economic development in your community?
We need to sustain our prosperity without growth. Our community is focused on quality of life. We have ecological constraints that limit future development. We want to sustain our residential population and grow it only marginally within those constraints.
Would/can/should local governments do anything to help reduce the tax burden on residents?
The Village of Campton Hills levies no local property or sales tax on residents. Because we incorporated, we repatriate state and county taxes back to our municipality to more proximately serve our citizens.
Do you support recreational marijuana being sold in your community to help lower residents’ tax burden?
As an academic with over 40 years of professional and university based teaching and research, I support clear thinking. I agree with the majority of our residents that we don’t need this source of revenue.
What projects or infrastructure would you look to address in your community and how would you do it?
One concern is the management of surface and ground water in our region. If more extreme weather events occur as some models predict, we need some planning. Models mostly predict the north central states will experience more episodes of drought and flooding, so we need to monitor our aquifers.
Our society is moving toward an all electrical energy economy. We have areas in Campton that experience power outages due to overhead lines vulnerable to strikes and tree damage. I hope to address Commonwealth Edison to bury more power lines to prevent these outages.
The Village has increased the annual number of miles of road resurfacing in the past 2-3 years and we need to continue that trend. We have many miles of road that need improvement and the current administration has instituted a systematic inventory and schedule for such treatments.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
What is your position on open, transparent government?
Open and transparent government is a central core of ‘deliberative democracy’, a concept I try to implement in my role. Open discussion, fact-based argument, sourced claims that can be verified, justifications given for decisions and votes rendered. I favor the video broadcasting of live Village Board meetings and the archived storage of meeting videos for later viewing. The considerations of cost and technological impediments, I think, can be overcome.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
Yes. Costs to the local governments need to be recouped to some extent so that frivolous requests or those requests launched to exhaust local government resources are deterred.
Would you sign a nondisclosure agreement with a prospective company that would limit your ability to communicate with your community?
No. As a university-based social scientist, I support the free flow of information.