Dear ACTION Parents and Community Group, Family, and Friends,
When this current election cycle began in earnest in late 2022, I was committed to one thing: supporting the Action Parent and Community (PAC) group I helped start in 2021 as Treasurer. While always happy to talk about my then colleagues, now candidates of Action PAC, and share the wonderful vision they have for Barrington, I did not intend on writing any materials nor publishing any statements. However, I have spent hours upon hours over the last few weeks, clarifying not just misconceptions about Action PAC, but about myself. Accordingly, I have decided to write this letter and permit it be shared to refute the misinformation that has been spreading and return the focus of the upcoming election to the candidates, the positions they seek and the issues they stand for.
There is a lot of noise out there. I am not active on social media, but I receive screen shots of postings from time to time. I have also read numerous pieces put together by former board members, former administrators, and several members of the community. While I respect each person’s opinion, I am concerned that assumptions are being made without evidence and many are just believing what they read or hear. To all who have reached out and asked questions, THANK YOU. I sincerely appreciate your not making assumptions and not just believing what you hear.
When a few friends remarked after my election two years ago that I should prepare for the attacks, sitting on the board, I did not know what they meant. Now, I do! As board members, we are not immune to the noise and sadly, this election has made it so that some fellow board members won’t even speak to me, despite my explicit requests, until after the election. I am finding the adage, “politics is ugly” to be true, yet still saddened because these elections and these positions should not be partisan. Unfortunately, it is abundantly clear some want to make the issues seem partisan for the sole purpose of pushing their selected candidates. In the process, these scare tactics (e.g. claims of extremism) are further dividing our beautiful community and now the board itself.
There are too many lies to dispel, so I will address three of the most egregious that I have heard:
1. Outside forces are training and influencing Action PAC
Is it true that Action PAC has received many donations? Yes, and we are humbled to have the overwhelming support of so many from our community. Incredibly, this funding has come from nearly 200 donors, ALL of whom have ties to the area (here is a video that shows just a few of our team: https://youtu.be/1nfl22flU1s). I also encourage you to look at our filings on the Illinois Board of Elections website to see further details (see Committee 36395). That will definitively show who is supporting us. Fact is, none of us are trained candidates so we are leaning on each other to learn the process of running a campaign. We are seeking help from within our group, our friends, and engaging public resources available to any candidate. Like board members before me, I take the call to facilitate a bench of future board members for smooth succession very seriously. Accordingly, I am active in working with candidates and sharing my experiences. Candidly, I have offered my experience to all new candidates. Some have just chosen not to engage.
2. Action PAC will cut programs
Action PAC has from its inception focused on being a voice for ALL stakeholders. To date, I have not heard a single voice suggest we need to eliminate programs. Barrington is known as a “Destination” because of our unique offerings and high-quality teachers. Accordingly, the goal is to ensure the programs we have are operating at their peak with the resources available. Since academic excellence is our goal, it would be counterproductive to wantonly cut programs. I have been told by some community members they are “reading between the lines”. I assure you, there is nothing between these lines. There is no factual basis to support this assumption, just conjecture. We want excellence and removing programs, thus reducing the offerings in our district, is not our goal.
3. Action PAC practices groupthink
We, within Action PAC, are all independent thinkers. It has been suggested that electing the current Action PAC candidates along with the sitting members from the group would result in groupthink on critical decision making. That could not be further from the truth. In fact, the opposite is true. Katie Karam and I were elected at the same time and over the last two years we have shown time and again we are not just rubber stamping each other’s positions. Just looking at the last non-unanimous board vote, on December 20, 2022, Katie and I voted differently on adopting the property tax levee, as recommended. While I hoped she and others would vote against the recommendation and we could determine a more modest levee, that was not to be the case. And that is okay, I respect the position of the board. This contrasting view personifies our independent thinking and unified support for the district. In short, the facts show we develop our own thoughts and ideas.
There are many other topics I could address, but I am sure you get the idea. Lies are loud yet truth is quiet. Here is a concise summary of several more myths that are being circulated and the real FACTs: https://suburbanactionpac.com/myths-vs-facts/. For those of you who know me, I am certain you understand where my heart is, how I conduct myself, and how important those who I choose to associate myself with are. I could not support a group who would want to shift focus from local priorities to external priorities. Similarly, I could not support a group who on their own accord would want to eliminate programs that distinguish Barrington and make it a “Destination”. Finally, I could not support a group with individuals who do not have their own opinions.
In my humble opinion, if we hope to continue taking steps forward as a district, these are three key behaviors board members must illustrate:
- Be a listener – There are so many unique voices in our community and it is critical for the board members, who are elected to reflect their constituents, to listen and engage with the community. Board members who do not consistently engage with community members nor respond to their queries, in my opinion, are not doing their job.
- Be open to compromise – Too often, decisions were made without the most important element: stakeholder sign-off. Differing views exist in our community and the only fair remedy is to provide equity for all parties involved. It is incredibly sad when compromise is not even considered.
- Be a proven leader – A wise coach once said, “you are what your record says you are”. Is Barrington one of the better performing districts in Illinois? Comparatively, yes. And this should be celebrated. However, I think it is fair to strive for more, and not be content with just being among the best. Leaders want to be THE BEST. Along those lines, leaders admit when wrong; true leaders take accountability, learn, grow and move forward, they do not deny nor distract.
Of all that I have read and heard, one of the statements I agree with most is this: who you vote for will determine one of two distinct directions forward. Thus, when you conduct your research, I encourage you to watch the candidate forums. For the new candidates, consider their vision statements as well as the successes and experiences they have had in the private sector. I would also encourage a review of their websites to learn more about each and what makes them uniquely qualified, both professionally and personally. For the incumbent candidates, review the voting history from previous board meetings. I have learned over the years that past performance is a good indicator of future performance.
Thank you for reading this. I hope everyone reading this letter intends to vote because ultimately that is how you make your voice heard.