Selection of Lake Forest’s next mayor thrown into turmoil after caucus nomination rejected
By Daniel I. Dorfman Pioneer Press• Nov 15, 2022 at 2:17 pm
Mayoral candidate Stanford “Randy” Tack speaks at the Lake Forest Caucus annual meeting held at the Gorton Center on Nov. 9. (Daniel I. Dorfman / Lake County News- Sun)
The normally benign process of selecting Lake Forest’s next mayor has taken a chaotic turn as the general membership of the Lake Forest Caucus has rejected its Caucus Committee nomination, possibly leading to a passionate campaign ahead of April’s general election.
On Nov. 9, the Lake Forest Caucus held its annual meeting, where residents were asked to support the recommendation of former Third Ward Alderman Dr. Stanford “Randy” Tack to be the city’s next mayor based on the endorsement of the Caucus Committee.
Traditionally this has been a “pro forma” action by the membership, but nearly 48 hours after the meeting, the caucus sent out an email that Tack’s nomination was not supported.
In a subsequent email to Pioneer Press, caucus president David Hunt did not specify the results of the vote, but said the Caucus Committee was standing by its recommendation of Tack.
“Given the unprecedented activities and communications circulated leading up to Wednesday, a few single-issue groups spreading false information with a mistaken viewpoint of who Dr. Tack is, what he believes, and what he plans to do as mayor, adversely influenced the process,” Hunt wrote. “We are confident that once the voters get to know Dr. Tack, they will strongly support him and reject agenda driven viewpoints seeking to politicize our local government.”
Still, it appears Tack will face serious opposition, possibly from former First Ward Alderman Prue Beidler. Previously, she identified herself as the other finalist when the Caucus Committee eventually selected Tack.
Last month, in the days immediately after the announcement of Tack’s endorsement, Beidler said she would not pursue an independent run for mayor, customarily an uphill battle against the caucus. However, in a brief interview on Saturday, she said she is now seriously considering it.
One factor that appears to be energizing the situation is that Lake Forest has never had a female mayor, which is different from neighboring communities, including Lake Bluff, Deerfield, Highland Park and Glencoe, who have all had at least one woman elected either as mayor or village president.
“I was a finalist for mayor and I admit to being very disappointed and discouraged not to be the Caucus candidate,” Beidler wrote in an email obtained by Pioneer Press. “Lake Forest was incorporated in 1861 and all mayors since then have been men. The walls in the City Council Chamber tell this tale. But besides being a woman, I believe that I brought the human relations skills, temperament, and deep experience in LF which suited me well for the job. But it was not my decision to make.”
Beidler then alluded to Caucus Committee endorsements of Terence Mieling, John Powers and Richard Walther for the City Council seats as incumbents James “Jed” Morris, Melanie Rummel and Ray Buschmann are leaving after serving the traditional three two-year terms. Incumbent Third Ward Alderman Ara Goshgarian was also endorsed for another term.
“When I learned that NO women were being proposed for the three open City Council seats, I was even more upset,” Beidler wrote. “This is not the example we want to set for our daughters and granddaughters. We know that having women at board room and governing tables enriches the organizations. What is going on here?”
Hunt responded that the last three members to join the City Council, all of whom had caucus support were women, noting efforts were made to recruit other women for the 2023 campaign.
“This year, we reached out to multiple female candidates to interview for all of the elected positions,” Hunt added. “For example, in (the Second Ward) four female candidates were contacted to interview for city council, but only one of the four decided to do so for various personal reasons. 40 percent of the Caucus Committee is comprised of women. 50 percent of our school board candidates this year are female. The Caucus Committee works hard to provide a diversity of viewpoints in our recommendations for city government,” Hunt wrote.
Hunt also expressed discontent that Beidler went public with her frustrations about the process.
“As someone who has been highly regarded and supported by the Caucus and the community at large for many decades, we were surprised and disappointed that Ms. Beidler has not respected the Caucus process after committing to doing so,” he wrote. “The Lake Forest Caucus has been a bulwark against politicization of our local government for 88 years. Challenging the Caucus in this manner is not in the long run best interest of the city.”
Another opponent of Tack’s nomination was JoAnn Desmond, who clashed with Tack when he was a member of the City Council. She said she reach out to people ahead of the annual meeting encouraging them to vote and was then dismayed the caucus decision to move ahead.
“To not honor its long tradition of respecting its bylaws and the vote of its members results in a lack of trust in the entire Caucus process as it currently operates,” Desmond said as part of a statement.
For his part, Tack indicated he would be moving forward in his campaign.
“I was only surprised and disappointed that a Caucus candidate who had a commitment to respect the process chose not to do so. I was not surprised that a few single-issue groups chose this pathway because of a mistaken viewpoint that I am their enemy. I am not and I am committed to maintaining the integrity and character of all aspects of city government,” he wrote.
Tack was already set to face opposition from resident Paul Hamann. Whether there will be other candidates will be known by Dec, 19, the signature filing deadline.
In addition to the City Council candidates, the Caucus endorsed residents Megan Engelberg, Mark Remus and Monica Yaun to join the District 67 board to fill vacancies created by current board President Suzanne Sands stepping down after serving the traditional two terms. Two other members Richard Chun and Jennifer Mason-Marek decided not to seek reelection.
At District 115, incumbents John Noble, Dewey Winebrenner and Jenny Zinser were all endorsed for reelection to the Lake Forest High School board.
The City Council and school board candidates received the support of the membership at the annual meeting, Hunt said.