In his recent opinion letter submitted to the DailyNorthShore on March 7, Edward Sachs Jr. stated his support of “two of the four Final 4 candidates” he said he knows well – Jennifer Neubauer and Hillary Till. Jennifer Neubauer’s name was familiar to me as one of the four “like-minded” candidates calling themselves the “Final Four” who are seeking a majority on the D115 school board.
Ms. Neubauer previously came to my attention as a publicly outspoken critic of Dr. Holland, the current principal of Lake Forest High School. She has been prone to some incendiary and divisive rhetoric such as refusing to recognize Dr. Holland’s advanced academic credentials, accusing Dr. Holland of racism, and other troubling statements.
I did not recall seeing Ms. Till’s name listed as one of the school board candidates as indicated by Mr. Sachs. However, I recognized it from her appearance as a spokesperson in a recent television news story that, in my opinion, reflected very poorly on our community and seemed to have been planted by this group of candidates.
Since Mr. Sachs’ letter was initially posted, he must have been alerted to his error, and the letter was corrected to change Ms. Till’s stated role with the campaign. While Ms. Till is not a candidate, she is listed on the group’s website as “Chief Issues and Campaign Advisor.” In fact she is one of a team of “Chief Advisors” for the “Final Four.” The prominent role granted to these advisors understandably led to Mr. Sachs’ initial confusion.
Another one of the “Chief Advisors” for this group is Tom Mannix, the “Chief Campaign Strategist and Issues Advisor.”
Who is Tom Mannix? A quick Google search yielded some interesting results. As a paid political consultant and former Commissioner in Forest Park, IL, he has developed a reputation as a “political animal who makes all politics feel dirty”, who “operates his political viciousness from the shadows”, and has a track record of packaging groups of candidates across the region to extend his political influence, according to an editorial called The Mannix Effect in the Forest Park Review.
The influential role of Tom Mannix in the Final Four campaign literature raises many red flags. Why has the “Final Four” named him their “Chief Campaign Strategist and Issues Advisor”? What is his interest in serving in this role in our local school board election? Who is setting the agenda for the “Final Four” in their quest to take over a majority on the school board that serves the children of Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Knollwood? And what is that agenda?
As far as I can tell, Tom Mannix is not connected to the community served by District 115, either as a parent, a grandparent, an alumnus, a student, or a taxpayer. The influence he has been granted by the “Final Four” is alarming. It is difficult to see how an outside political advisor with a history of sowing controversy and disruption serves our community.
I will be casting my votes for the four candidates who will appear first on the ballot for District 115 school board – Tom Nemickas, Sally Davis, Ted Moorman, and David Lane. These candidates bring independent perspectives, a diversity of experience and expertise, and a passion to serve our children and our community in a fiscally responsible way. They are a balanced slate of independent thinkers who are not motivated by ideological political agendas but are committed to engaging in civil dialogue that reflects well on our institutions.
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