Election 2011: School Board Candidates Talk Issues at Tea Party Forum

Planners said the forum was non-partisan, despite Tea Party backing.

Updated at 1:50 p.m.: District 230 incumbent candidate Kathy Quilty and candidate Rena Esposito-Sheehan said Friday they never received an invitation to this forum. A message left with John Sendra, who was in charge of marketing the event, was not immediately returned.

The crowd was scant, but the issues were hot at a candidate forum bringing candidates from four local races to the Thursday night.

Unlike recent School District 146 , the audience at this event was small enough to count on a couple hands, while only about half the invited candidates showed.

Knowing that it was an event sponsored by may have deterred some folks from coming out, organizer said, but that wasn’t the intention.

“We don’t care what you are — Democrat, Independent, Libertarian,” he said. “My goal is to educate, educate, educate.”

Based on questions from the audience, two of the  district 230 candidates squared off on campaign financing. Their discussion can be found here.

Candidates were allowed several minutes to talk about themselves and why they’re suited for the job.

Challenger and former board member did not attend.

Incumbent since 2007
Key issues: feeder schools, budget

“In those last four years, we’ve been very conscious of how we spend our money ... our tax rate has decreased — I said decreased, not increased — since 2006. We have worked very diligently to ... minimize any type of expenses for your tax bill.”

Incumbent since 2007
Key issues: not cutting programs

“We will not ... cut expenditures on the school budget in order to cut programs for our kids ... We don’t want to squeeze our kids through a high school education. We want to grease their way through it, so they can get the best education that they can get and go on to be successful and hopefully come back and live in this district the way we have.”

Incumbent since 2007
Key issues: unfunded state mandates

“We’re going to spend over $3 million this year on transportation. In Governor (Pat) Quinn’s most recent budget the proposal was that he would reimburse us less than 50 cents on the dollar for that ... what these unfunded mandates do is put upward pressure on your tax bills ... I think that’s fundamentally unfair. If there’s one thing I would ask our legislators to do it’s (to) stop sending us these mandates.”

Key issues: state funding, academic disparity

“There is nothing negative I have to say about (the incumbent board members) but we always have, what I’ve been taught, is continuous improvement: and that is, that was great yesterday but that’s now become today’s mediocrity. We have to work for tomorrow’s excellence ... we have the financials under control, now we need to get the academics up to that level.”

Incumbents Patrick O’Sullivan and Kathleen Quilty and challengers Kevin Burns, Rena Esposito Sheehan and Patrick S. Sullivan did not attend.

Richard Nogal
Key issues: test disparities, technology gaps and safety

Palos School District 118, where Nogal is board president, “has a 95 percent ... meet or exceed rating for the state tests, so we are in the top five percent of all school districts in the state. We also have a balanced budget ... and financially are rated in the top five percent in the state.”

Thomas Martelli
Key issues: balanced budget, technology

“The technology in the district is no where close to where it should be, but we can build a football field. What (incumbents are) doing is a lot of double talking.”

Denis Dupee
Key issues: redundancies in administrative staff and safety

“I’ve met a lot of residents of the residents of the Stagg (High School) community and they constantly say, ‘There’s been problems here that have been going for five years, they’ve been going on for 10 years: there’s hallways in the school that are unsafe.’”

Incumbents Gina Robuck and Patricia Meagher did not attend.

Chuck Augustyniak
Incumbent since 2007
Key issues: fiscal responsibility, declining enrollment

"I'm a public employee myself, but I have 25 years of private sector experience ... I can look at things from both sides of the aisle, from management and labor, so that when I sit down at the negotiating table with either our teachers or our custodians or our parent educators I can empathize with that side of the aisle."

Jeff Ficaro
Key issues: declining enrollent, fiscal responsibility

“When I took over as the president of the Tinley Park Chamber of Commerce we were facing quite a deficit. I know in this economy things are certainly difficult, but it’s hard for a non-profit to lose a good chunk of money. After my term had ended, we not only were back in the black but we had built a financial reserve.”


Incumbent Julienne W. Mallory and challenger Morris Brooks did not attend.

Kurt Staehlin
Key issue:

“I don’t think we need it. A lot of other school districts have eliminated it throughout the state. It’s my opinion that we can form a co-operative board of the other school district that are involved and it can prevent a lot of shenanigans going on with your tax money.”


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