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School Board Candidates and Union Money

Should school board candidates accept money from a union for their campaign? It has been a common question at candidate forums in Palatine and the answer has been a resounding "No."

Should school board candidates accept campaign contributions from unions?

Every local school board candidate asked that question at recent candidate forums has emphatically announced that they will not accept donations of any kind from a union.

It is one subject – whether running for Community Consolidated School District 15 or Township High School District 211 – in which they all agree.

In fact at last week’s Palatine Township GOP/TOPPER sponsored candidate forum, incumbent District 15 board president Gerald Chapman went further to address the issue.  He explained that he told the district’s unions two years ago - when he was not running for re-election - that it wasn’t their responsibility to get involved in supporting candidates. 

However, that wasn’t the case in 2007 when he ran on the “Three for District 15” slate with fellow incumbent James Ekeberg and current District 15 school board member Richard Bokor.

As documented on the Illinois State Board of Elections Web site, all three District 15 unions contributed a total of $9,500 to the slate – most of which was not recorded until a few days before the election. In addition, the Classroom Teachers Council (teacher union) paid for a professional public relations firm to help secure the three a seat on the school board. 

Of course school employees – as individuals and as a union – can legally support financially or otherwise the candidates of their choice.  School board members vote on employee pay, health insurance benefits and working conditions.  It is only natural to have a vested interest in who is elected to make those decisions.

How do you know where a candidate's support is coming from?

Transparency is the key. If there is full disclosure, well in advance of the election, then voters can make an informed choice. If that disclosure isn’t made until after an election – then that is dishonest to the voters and shows a lack of transparency. 

If four years later an incumbent attempts to minimize that support which enabled him to win the election – by recalling at a forum that it was only “a mailer” in support of their candidacy – what can you do? 

Hold them accountable.  Attend a forum, ask a question and listen for the answer. 

And don’t forget to vote Tuesday, April 5.

mary vanek February 25, 2011 at 02:20 PM
The CTC spent $17,000 on Morrissy P.A. to craft the phone script that the teachers used when they made thousands of pone calls from the union phone banks in 2007, among other services Morrissy provided. Friends of Bokor Chapman Ekeberg only claimed apporximately $2,000 of services from Morrissy on their semi-annual report: I guess they didn't want the world to know just how much union support they had in the election.
Meg February 25, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Please support the non-union candidates; 1-3-5 on the ballot for District 15. We need PARENTS involved with the school board, not union stooges!
Maryb February 25, 2011 at 06:42 PM
If you want to see some interesting political activity, look at the campaign committee of IPACE. Lisa Nuss, the teachers union president, is the chairman of this political committee. From the first half of 2007 there are all sorts of entries. Take a look. http://www.elections.state.il.us/CampaignDisclosure/D2Semi.aspx?id=372591 Money in and out between Springfield, professional campaign managers, and Chapman Ekeberg and Bokor, and attorney Jim Nally. Does the name Jim Nally sound familiar? A James Nally represented the petition challengers last spring. Now look at the entry from the first half of 2010 and the itemized entry of gifts for $5000.00 on 6/08/10. Wouldn’t that be about the time the 27 million dollar bond petition drive was settled?
Concerned Resident February 25, 2011 at 06:59 PM
Well I guess it is clear who Chapman represents....THE UNION... Very disappointing to say the least...
Taraxias February 25, 2011 at 11:48 PM
Chapman Ekeberg Bokor must go. The board must consist only of taxpayers. Anything else is a conflict of interest and unethical. N O U N I O N S T O O G E S

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