ELMHURST, IL — A DuPage County Board member from Elmhurst who recently told a constituent to “stick” her vote in her “a–” got a scolding of his own Monday. In an online statement, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin accused member Pete DiCianni, a Republican and former Elmhurst mayor, of circulating “misleading” automated calls causing “unnecessary fear and anxiety.”
Two weeks ago, Elmhurst Patch revealed that DiCianni took part in a pro-police rally in front of the Elmhurst police station. At the event, he argued with Black Lives Matter counterprotesters.
In his message, Cronin did not call out DiCianni by name, but it was clear who he was referring to. Cronin said he needed to refute information from the automated calls to residents Sunday. Cronin suggested the robocalls told residents that DuPage County Board members were considering defunding the police.
Cronin, an Elmhurst Republican, said there was no effort underway by any member to defund police. And he said no item on the board’s meeting agenda for Tuesday was aimed at law enforcement budgets or manpower.
“One board member chose to deliberately share misinformation after he was criticized for appearing at a rally, not wearing a mask, and speaking loudly in the face of another protester,” Cronin said in his public message. “He was also criticized for inappropriate language used in an exchange over email, which was then shared on social media. None of those things have anything to do with the business of the DuPage County Board, which is focused on protecting the health and safety of all and helping our businesses and families weather these challenging times.”
Cronin said DiCianni’s actions have nothing to do with supporting the police.
“By circulating a misleading robocall, this Board member has caused unnecessary fear and anxiety,” Cronin said. “It has caused a situation where people may feel compelled to gather unnecessarily while COVID-19 is spiking, endangering themselves, our staff and the security team that must ensure the health and safety of the public.”
In an email to Patch on Tuesday morning, DiCianni said Cronin would make a correction to his comments at Tuesday’s board meeting. DiCianni said several Democratic members, including Ashley Selmon, have suggested and discussed defunding the police in a finance committee meeting. If Cronin does not correct himself, DiCianni said he would make a statement.
He declined to answer Patch’s questions whether he circulated a robocall and whether he would release it publicly if he did.
In response to Cronin, Selmon told Patch that the video of the committee meeting shows no one suggested defunding the police.
“Rather, I have offered clarifying context about the conversation that was being discussed in the national context,” Selmon, an Addison, said in an email. “Unfortunately, Member DiCianni’s recollection of the facts both of this discussion as part of county business and of his actions personally last month are not correct and do not match video of both events.”
Shortly after the June 27 pro-police rally, video snippets of DiCianni made their way on social media. In one clip, DiCianni could be heard telling counterprotesters, “You leave our town then,” but it was unclear what they said to him.
In another clip, he told counterprotesters, “I was the mayor. We fund our cops, you better believe it.” He said the city has a good police department and “we don’t hurt people.”
Later that afternoon, Elmhurst resident Lauren Sussman sent a message to DiCianni’s county email account to say she was “extremely disappointed” in his actions and participation in the demonstration earlier that day. Addressing the county board member, “Mr. DiCianni,” she demanded his resignation and suggested he read “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi.
“You made Black people in our community feel unwelcome,” she said. “At a critical time in history, you chose to play the part of politician, instead of a human. You showed you have no ability to empathize with oppressed community members, to be open to understanding their struggles, and you left them in the dust. You are a terrible representation of the place I call home.”
Fifteen minutes later, DiCianni wrote back, “Go stick you(r) vote in your a–! I stood up for my cops today.”
Asked about this comment by Patch, he said Black Lives Matter supporters were able to demonstrate without interference because Elmhurst gave them a permit and safe venue.
“Unfortunately, that courtesy was not given to our police officers and their families,” DiCianni said in an email. “Instead they were met with hatred from young kids with megaphones shouting at and taunting our police officers and their families. As a member of the county’s Judicial Public Safety Committee and a proud former mayor, I fully support and will continue to support DuPage County law enforcement. We set the bar on training and policing for others to follow.”
Sussman herself was not among the counterprotesters. She is in New Orleans for the summer attending school.
DiCianni represents District 2, which includes Elmhurst and parts of Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills and other towns.
DiCianni was Elmhurst’s mayor from 2009 to 2012, leaving to become a county board member. He is CEO of DiCianni Graphics in Addison and makes about $52,000 a year as a county board member.
This article originally appeared on the Elmhurst Patch