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Meet Cohen

My name is Cohen Barnes, and I am proud to have grown up in DeKalb.  After graduating from DeKalb High School, I left shortly after graduation to join the U.S. Army and served on Active Duty for three years stationed in Ft. Benning Georgia as a United States Infantryman and completed Airborne School while there.  When my tour was complete, I chose to come back home.  To come back to a community that had been so good to me.  I attended Kishwaukee Community College and in my second semester, was called back into the military for Operation Desert Storm.  After my deployment, I returned once again to DeKalb where I completed my associate degree from Kish College and transferred to Northern Illinois University where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.  

I am a proud Barb, Cougar, and Huskie!

After college, I worked hard in the tech field and became owner of SundogIT, a thriving technology firm employing over 25 people that serves clients throughout Northern Illinois who rely on us for the security and support of their technology.  I also co-founded DeKalb Fiber Optic which, during my time as owner, deployed over a 140 miles of fiber optic cabling and connected NIU to schools, cities and libraries all across Northern Illinois.  

I am also married to the love of my life Amy, an incredible woman, and have been happily married for over 31 years.  Together, we have raised two children.  Our son Hank is currently attending Illinois State University in the ROTC program pursuing his degree in History, is an Illinois National Guardsman and combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan and married to our wonderful daughter-in-law Jillian.  Our daughter Maddie is currently attending Georgia Tech as a sophomore and is in their Honors Aerospace Engineering Program and interns at Gulfstream.  

During my life here in DeKalb, I have been elected to the DeKalb CUSD #428 School Board, co-chaired the successful referendum to build our new high school and Cortland elementary school, served on numerous non-profit boards including president of the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation and was elected and have been Mayor of the City of DeKalb.  I have been privileged to work with incredible people and in the various roles I have been elected to and asked to serve in, I helped drive over a billion dollars of commercial investment resulting in over a 1,000 new union jobs in DeKalb, enhanced funding for our schools, and lowered taxes that has helped improve the lives of our families.  My lifetime of service to DeKalb has given me a holistic understanding of our community, how it functions, and what needs to happen to make it even better.  

I am a product of DeKalb, and I am here to stay.  This area, which has been so good to myself, my family, and my business, is part of why I am running for re-election as mayor of the City of DeKalb.  It is only fitting that a I give back and work hard to create opportunities for others to experience what I have experienced here in the community I love.


My Experience in our Community

  • Eagle Scout 1984
  • Graduated DeKalb High School 1987
  • US Army 1987-1990,1991 (Airborne Infantry)
  • Graduated Kishwaukee College 1992 (Associate of Arts)
  • Married Amy in 1992
  • Graduated NIU in 1995 (Bachelor of Arts - English)
  • SundogIT 1996 - Present
  • DeKalb Fiber Optic 2004-2012
  • Ben Gordon Center Board of Directors
  • City of DeKalb - Economic Development Committee 2005 - 2007
  • City of DeKalb - Citizen Finance Advisory Committee 2009 - 2010
  • City of DeKalb - Citizens Community Enhancement Commission - 2007-2016
  • Chair of DeKalb County Tribute to Heroes - 2007 - 2015 (Chair for quite a few of those years)
  • Co-chair ReNew Our Schools (School Referendum) 2007
  • Member Communiversity Cares
  • President of DeKalb Chamber of Commerce 2010
  • DeKalb CUSD #428 School Board Member 2011-2015
  • Inducted into DeKalb Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame 2012
  • Adult Boy Scout Leader of DeKalb’s Troop 33 2014-2018
  • President of #ProudlyDeKalb 2015 - 2020
  • President of the DeKalb Corn Classic 5k/10k 2018 - Present
  • Co-Chair DeKalb County UNITES 2020 - 2022
  • President of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation 2018 - 2020
  • Kishwaukee Hospital Philanthropic Advisory Council 2018 - 2020
  • Belonging Council 2020 - Present
  • City of DeKalb Mayor 2021 - Present
  • Illinois Municipal League Board Member 2022 - Present

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