Pictured Pam Cap. Images from Cap's campaign office grand opening.
During the summer of 2003, the Calumet City police department—under the leadership of then-police chief Pam Cap, who was appointed by then-mayor Greg Skubisz—was reportedly an extremely efficient unit, cracking down on violence and apprehending drug traffickers.
However, shortly after Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush won the mayoral seat in a controversial race that was eventually decided in court, Cap—along with Pam Eanes and Steve Williams—were demoted.
Cap and Eanes, who along with Williams are openly gay, feel that they lost their top positions because of their sexual orientation. ( Williams was fire chief and Eanes was the third in the fire department hierarchy as assistant chief. ) To add fuel to the fire, Rev. James Meeks—who recently voted against the gay- rights bill when the measure came up in the Illinois Senate—is an ally of Qualkinbush.
Now the mayoral position is again up for grabs, and Cap is running against Qualkinbush and ordained minister Cheryl Cornelius in the Democratic primary election, which will be held Feb. 22. The woman who prevails in the election will essentially win the seat, since the primary winner is expected to run unopposed in April.
Cap recently talked with Windy City Times about the upcoming election.
Windy City Times: Why do you feel you're the best candidate to be mayor?
Pam Cap: I was born and raised in Calumet City. I still live in the house that my father built with his own two hands. I've been a Calumet City police officer for 18 years, so I already have extensive experience being a public servant. The reason I became a cop was to help people.
I have an associate's degree in law enforcement, a Bachelor's degree in law enforcement management, and a Master's degree in law enforcement administration. I also have leadership experience; I'm currently a sergeant in the patrol division of the police department.
Also, I was chief of police for four months. While in that position, I got a chance to speak to residents one-on-one about their needs as well as which programs worked and which didn't. Even though we were there for only four months, we made enormous steps forward in providing a safer community for our residents. Unfortunately, Michelle Qualkinbush came in and quickly got rid of all three of us; we were demoted to the lowest possible level.
WCT: Were you three the only ones demoted?
PC: Basically, [ Qualkinbush ] got rid of everyone who worked under the Skubisz administration.
While I was chief of police, we opened the lines of communication. Diversity wasn't an issue because we were working well with every ethnic group. Calumet City is predominantly African-American now. Blacks make up about 53 percent of the population, while Latinos make up 10 percent, and whites make up about 37 percent.
The residents know that the police made a big change—and that's why I'm running for mayor. So many residents have asked me to [ run ] because they know that it's time for change.
WCT: What was the mayor's rationale for demoting you all?
PC: It was that we were promoted or appointed under Greg Skubisz and she wanted to get rid of anything that reminded her of him.
WCT: It would seem—if common sense prevailed—that if the police force was as efficient as you say, that someone would want to keep that unit intact.
PC: Well, you hit the nail on the head—it would be common sense. I don't believe that she even listens to her intuitive side.
She's held numerous town hall meetings and residents have talked about a bicycle patrol unit that was implemented under my administration as chief. People liked seeing the officers and getting to know them—plus, they felt safer. Also, under my leadership, we redesigned our tactical unit by adding more officers to it. During that time, we got 62 warrants; seized over $122,000 in cash; and took pounds of cocaine, marijuana, and heroin off the streets. We were the envy of every community around us.
I also initiated an emergency bracelet program for seniors and at-risk residents. That has also been put aside. The bicycle program has been dismantled and the bikes have been sold to other areas. Also, the tactical unit was dismantled; the gang-bangers and drug dealers are now coming back in droves. In addition, the homicide rate last year was double the number [ in 2003 ] .
WCT: On your Web site [ see www.wincityhall.com ] , you say that the mayor has cut all of these safety programs and has given herself a raise.
PC: Yes. She said that fiscal responsibility is her top priority. Over the past 16 months or so, she's called about 25 special meetings. Now, every time she calls a special meeting each person who attends ( the mayor, clerk, treasurer, and seven city council members ) gets an additional $514. With all of these meetings, that's $125,000 extra that they've been paid on top of their salaries. Plus, in one of these special meetings they gave themselves nine-percent raises; the mayor gave herself a $10,000 raise—plus she got $514 to go to that meeting to give herself that raise.
WCT: What do you want to say in conclusion?
PC: I just hope the residents realize how important Feb. 22 is. That is the day that will determine the future of Calumet City—and the real power lies in their votes. They need to get out and make their voices heard.
Pam Eanes, Cap's campaign manager, is seeking volunteers to work as poll watchers. Interested persons should visit www.wincityhall.com or call ( 708 ) 730-9703. People who wish to send donations can mail them to: 505 Burnham Avenue, Calumet City, IL 60409 or they can go to the Web site.