Caucus aims to engage candidates, voters

Community group seeks volunteer delegates in lead up to spring District 86 board election

Residents are hoping to breathe new life into a longstanding community organization for recruiting and evaluating Hinsdale High School District 86 Board candidates as voters prepare to go to the polls next spring.

Caucus 86, made up of delegates from the seven school district that feed into Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South high schools, will work to identify, vet, and endorse board candidates for the April 2023 election, according to caucus co-chair Kristin McDaniel.

“The hope is to try to get people involved that might not necessarily think about running in the first place,” said McDaniel, herself recruited to run for the Hinsdale Public Library Board in 2017. “I went through the process and found it very valuable.”

Central parent McDaniel is sharing the leadership role with South parent Lana Johnson, a reflection of the balanced, diverse group of delegates they want to attract to carry out the caucus’ work.

“The goal is to have two delegate representatives from each of the various school areas,” McDaniel said. “We have seats available, and we are looking for good people who are interested in ensuring that we have a very strong district.”

The goal is to offer a valuable service to the community by doing the heavy lifting of candidate screening.

“Most people aren’t able to take the time to research the various candidates or ask a lot of questions,” McDaniel said.

Caucus 86 was initially formed in the 1970s and has operated on and off since that time. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented the caucus from convening for the 2021 election.

McDaniel acknowledged concerns that the caucus is possibly starting too late in the election cycle but countered that caucuses in other communities are on similar schedules.

“It is a compressed timeline but there is still plenty of time to do our due diligence,” she said.

Addressing another overheard complaint, McDaniel said the caucus will not favor one school over another.

“We want to ensure that we’re getting broad-minded candidates that have a mix of needed skills and are from all areas of D86,” she said, adding that Oak and Elm are among the school areas where delegates are being sought.

The caucus will endorse candidates at the end of the process, but that doesn’t determine who’s ultimately on the ballot. Anyone can file petitions to run for a seat on the board.

“People can vote for whomever they want to vote for,” McDaniel said. “It’s really up to candidates to conduct their campaigns how they want.”

She directed people to the caucus’ Facebook page, @D86BOECaucus, for the group’s timeline and bylaws.

“We truly want to have as much transparency as possible and be a helpful tool in order to provide the information that people need to make a decision,” she said

To learn more about the criteria and requirements of being a delegate, email [email protected] to receive additional information and an application form if interested in volunteering. The deadline to apply is Monday, Oct. 10.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean