HIGHLAND PARK – It was standing room only at the Ravinia Neighbors Association (RNA) event that provided all candidates and incumbents an opportunity to share their platforms before the April 4 election.
A group of 22 candidates and incumbents spoke for approximately two minutes each to about 150 people at Ravinia Elementary School on March 2.
RNA Interim Co-president Lisa Temkin said the event began with about 10 candidates in total and kept on growing. Temkin works with Interim Co-president Laura Caret, who is vying to fill former Councilman Paul Frank’s two-year seat on the Highland Park City Council. Her opponents are Davis Schneiderman and Adam Stolberg.
In addition to the race mentioned above, below is a breakdown of the candidates and incumbents running in the other races:
- Two incumbents, (Julie Gordon, Stacey Meyer) and two candidates (George Spathis, Elizabeth Garlovsky) competing for three seats on the District 113 Board of Education (Highland Park and Deerfield High Schools)
- Two candidates competing for Park District of Highland Park commissioner, Terry Grossberg and Mike Stroz
- Three incumbents (Dan Kaufman, Alyssa Knobel and Kim Stone) and one new challenger (Stan Lester) for a four-year position on the Highland Park City Council,
- Eight candidates and one incumbent on the North Shore School District 112 Board of Education: Alexander Brunk, Julie Campbell, Lisa Hirsh, Dan Jenks, Art Kessler, Bennett Lasko, Brent Ross and Steven Wellhouse
Stan Lester is the only candidate running in the City Council race who is not an incumbent and Jane Mordini is the only incumbent running for re-election in the D-112 race.
Lester spoke about the importance of “voluntarily or legislatively making voting compulsory,” as it is in places like Australia and Belgium. “It is time for cities like Highland Park to take the leap and establish a template for other local municipalities to follow,” he said. “It won’t be easy and won’t happen overnight, but we can and should be in the forefront by taking the first steps.”
Mordini said, “After eight years of service I am the only board member willing to run again, because it is vital to maintain consistency, continuity, and to avoid duplicating efforts and mistakes of the past, as we don’t have time to waste.”
Mordini explained that the district has too many old facilities that are not “configured for the way education is best delivered today, and they waste energy and money. Our promise is to children, not to facilities. Making good on that promise is all of our responsibilities. I am not the enemy. I want the best for my community: the young, the old and the future,” she added.
The following are a few brief excerpts from some of the other candidates’ speeches for D-112, the largest race:
Brunk has “brought a data-driven approach” to the 2.0 Committee, and hopes to emulate that as a board member. “District 112 has real financial and facilities challenges that must be addressed and voters last year showed that they’re not willing to support spending nearly $200 million on a plan that many viewed as too much change,” he said. “We need a compromise plan that consolidates to fewer buildings and saves money without going farther than the community is willing to go. Our priority going forward must be to provide a high quality and consistent educational experience for students across the district.”
Campbell has been serving as a 2.0 Steering Committee leader, and she said that based on the financial model D-112 has too many schools for the number of students. Campbell is a professional mediator, negotiator and an ethics professor, which she believes will be beneficial to the school board. “We have to improve the educational outcome for our students,” she said. “I represent three quintessential ethic interests that are in the room tonight; I’m a parent of a D-112 student, I’m a homeowner concerned about my property value, and I’m a homeowner that wants to be able to stay in my home.”
Lasko volunteered for SCFFAC (Superintendent’s Citizen Finance and Facilities Advisory Committee) in 2012, and he has continued to stay involved in education. “I have no agenda other than to ensure the sustained delivery of a first class education for every student in our district,” he said. “After the unsuccessful referendum last spring, I worked with leaders from both the Yes and No sides on that issue, in addition to events that led to the Reconfiguration 2.0 Committee. As a board member, I will continue to support the 2.0 Committee to develop a consensus-based alternative plan that is less ambitious, less costly and does not require much change.”
After the presentations, Rick Heinemann, 2018 D-112 Caucus co-chair, told DailyNorthShore that he supports the D-113 Caucus Candidates (Gordon, Meyer and Spathis). “They’re good people and I think they’re going to do a good job.”
Below is a list of Heineman’s Picks:
- Lasko, Jenks, Kessler and Mordini are the best choices for D-112. They are the people who are most interested in listening to facts. Some of the other candidates are coming in with preconceived notions that compromise their ability to make good decisions.
- Grossberg for Park District, because of his willingness to cooperate with all of the government bodies to reach the best decisions.
- Stolberg is best to fill Frank’s two-year City Council seat, because of his knowledge and experience about city government.
- The incumbents for City Council, as continuity is important and they’ve been doing a good job working cooperatively for the community’s values.
Enrique Perez has third grade twins at Oak Terrace School, and has been living in Highwood for three and a half years. “We’re from Chicago, but we wanted to come to Highland Park to enroll our kids in the dual language program,” said Perez. “I was against the referendum and BDR 3 and have spoken out about both of those issues.” He’s looking at candidates that aren’t “advocating for radical change,” and believes that trying to solve 20 plus years of financial problems in one school year doesn’t make sense.
DailyNorthShore will feature an upcoming story on the D-113 candidates and incumbents.