No place for partisan politics, personal attacks

 
Series: Decision 2023 | Story 16

Last updated 4/5/2023 at 3:57pm | View PDF



In the decades we’ve been covering elections, we’ve rarely seen an election like this one.

The worst had been the race for village president in 2009, when someone sent out a juvenile email about then candidate Tom Cauley. The stunt obviously didn’t do Cauley any harm, as he won that election — and three more since then.

In 2023, smear campaigns seem to find their home on Facebook more than email inboxes, where people are free to say whatever they want about the candidates and the volunteers who are supporting them.

We’ve come under fire as well on a Facebook site dedicated to District 86, where a resident offered a slanted and inaccurate summary of a conversation she had with The Hinsdalean’s editor about a simple error in an article while praising her own “journalistic” integrity.

She and others are furious about the fake website Reid McCollum created to look like a campaign site for Andrew Catton. McCollum had been a volunteer for Asma Akhras’ campaign but was asked to step down after he finally admitted to creating the page.

Do we agree with McCollum that there was nothing wrong with what he did? Absolutely not. What did Akhras know when? Well, despite the circumstantial evidence offered, there’s really no way of knowing unless she and/or McCollum agree to take a lie detector test.

And yet there’s no outrage about the content of the site, which quotes a letter Catton himself wrote to the District 86 board. In it he claims the “DIE/Anti Racist agenda,” as he calls it, “has an active subculture of violence and is a proponent of it, as long as it supports the Antiracist/DIE goal.”

What?

We’re most troubled by attempts to link Akhras to terrorists because she serves on the board of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations. We don’t even know what to say.

People clearly are willing to go to any lengths to find damning information about a candidate they don’t like (and ignore other information about candidates they do like). But there’s potentially damaging information about several candidates. All you need to do is find a few articles online and post them on Facebook, with some headlines circled in red and a conclusion written in all caps. Voila! Candidate discredited.

With groups like Awake Illinois and the Democratic Party getting involved in local races, school board elections are starting to look more like state and federal races. Want more examples? Read the Chicago Tribune’s March 26 titled “Conservatives are targeting suburban school boards; and the elections are becoming political battlegrounds.”

School board elections are no place for the kinds of attacks we’re used to seeing for governor or senator. They also are no place for partisan politics, regardless of what conservative or liberal groups might want you to believe.

The candidates who are running — whether you agree or disagree with their platform — are your neighbors. They’re parents of your children’s classmates. They deserve to be treated with respect.

The community at large needs to send a message that it will not tolerate personal attacks or partisan politics in a local school board election. Otherwise, before long, there won’t be anyone who’s willing to run.

 
 

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