ELMHURST, IL — None of the dozen candidates for Elmhurst City Council over the weekend ruled out allowing recreational marijuana sales and video gambling, though a few expressed reservations.
At virtual forums organized by the League of Women Voters, alderman candidates were asked whether they would support marijuana sales and video gambling as ways to plug budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic. At another forum the same day, the three mayoral candidates indicated some willingness to revisit the bans. The election is April 6.
In 2019, the City Council voted unanimously to prohibit recreational marijuana businesses in Elmhurst. Four years earlier, it voted 11-3 against allowing video gambling.
Here are the responses of alderman candidates at Sunday’s candidate forums:
- Nektarios Avanitis: He said he would be open-minded about both issues, but noted community opposition. “We need to pursue other avenues of revenue at this time.”
- Chris Jensen: “On video gaming, I think the residents have seemed not to want it in Elmhurst. I would be reluctant to support it, unless it changed substantially. Given all the surrounding communities have it, down the road we could add that to our list of attractions. As far as marijuana, I fully support having a dispensary in Elmhurst. I think a lot of tax dollars are flowing to other communities.” He said he would support a dispensary as long as nearby residents are fine with it.
- Alan Quarrie: “As far as the dispensaries and slot machines, let’s be honest, you can gamble from your living room right now with sports booking, on your phone, while you’re driving. For video poker machines, if the residents want it, I have no problem with it. The dispensaries, that’s another subject. I’m not sure we’re ready for dispensaries in Elmhurst yet. Like I’ve said in my campaign literature, I’m there for the residents. Whatever the residents want, that’s what I’m willing to give them.”
- Peter Ahern: He said he was open to revisiting both issues, noting marijuana dispensaries have been lucrative during the pandemic. But he said the issues involve the “morality and personal preferences of the people in my ward.”
- Emily Bastedo: As for marijuana, “it’s not about access. There are plenty of places to get it. It’s about tax revenue. True, it’s a tax boon for a short amount of time.” She said the community overwhelmingly expressed its opposition two years ago to recreational marijuana. “I’m not in favor of video gaming in our town. But my personal opinion matters less than what the community wants. So if public sentiment changed on marijuana and video gaming, I would be willing to revisit it.”
- Peter Dabertin: “When it comes to marijuana sales and video gaming, I really have no problem with it. But the voters might. The residents of Elmhurst might. It’s their decision. What I think about it doesn’t make much difference. If the city is overwhelmingly opposed to having marijuana dispensaries and video gaming, I could not support it.”
- Yeena Yoo: “I know the city resoundingly decided against marijuana sales. I think it’s important to look at data from other surrounding communities… I think we should survey our residents before we make any final decisions.”
Check the city’s online map to see which ward you live in.