What Is Truly At Stake In April 4 Lake Forest Election: Letter
"Sadly, our community has become engulfed in the toxic vitriol that is consuming our nation," John Trkla writes.
Press Release Desk, News Partner
Posted Fri, Mar 17, 2023 at 11:12 am CT|Updated Fri, Mar 17, 2023 at 11:15 am CT
In the April 4 municipal elections, four candidates are running unopposed for four seats on the Lake Forest City Council. Three candidates are competing for mayor. (City of Lake Forest/via video)
From John Trkla of Lake Forest for Transparency
I was reading Lake Forest Mayor Pandaleon’s email today and I began to question what is truly at stake on April 4th. Is it self-selected, likely partisan operators with agendas, interests, and obligations outside of simply doing what is right for Lake Forest as a whole, as stated by Mayor Pandaleon, or is it the Caucus system, that has served us so well for so long, that has broken trust with the residents of Lake Forest?
Mayor Pandaleon references the meticulous process the Caucus goes through in selecting candidates to present to the voters of Lake Forest. The 88-year-old institution is a significant reason Lake Forest has enjoyed excellent governance for so long. They make more than 100 recommendations to the mayor for city board and commission appointments. I have supported this system my entire life.
What Mayor Pandaleon omitted `in his message, and where my questions begin, is the Caucus’s decision to invalidate the foundation of their vetting process: the democratic election.
Contrary to hyperbole, the affirmation election has been the standard final step in the endorsement of the Caucus slate of candidates and has stood the test of time for good reason, as it is the democratic part of their process. *Pages 6 and 12 of the Lake Forest Caucus Pamphlet circa 1988.
The fact is that the Caucus leadership encountered, for the first time, a rejection of the vote for their proposed Mayoral candidate by the registered voters of Lake Forest. After their candidate was not validated, they decided to disregard their democratic election process that has been in place for decades. Remember: this was an election that they held, that is in their by-laws, and that they chose to disregard.
When I first heard that the election was not being honored, and that the Caucus took unprecedented actions to keep Randy Tack as their Mayoral candidate, I wanted to better understand what really happened on November 9th and what I uncovered was even worse.
This division within our town began with the attack the Lake Forest Caucus initially waged on Prue Beidler the moment after Randy Tack lost the affirmation vote. It is dated and on their website. It is in their publishing of private emails. It is in the anonymous emails.
Sadly, our community has become engulfed in the toxic vitriol that is consuming our nation. It’s found in the disparaging, published rhetoric and the scapegoating of long serving residents. It provokes a “you are either with us or against us” threat spreading through our neighborhoods.
In the town I grew up in, raised my children in, and plan to grow old in, I have seen a lot of opinions and debate over what is best for Lake Forest. I have witnessed civil discourse over development, car washes, the Open Lands, Conway Farms, and even a Burger King. Despite our differing opinions, we have always been united in a love for our community and accepted the decisions of our Caucus-endorsed elected officials.
I am experiencing for the first time a darker side of our community that has eroded the credibility of our current Caucus system of government. I have witnessed vitriolic messaging coming from those who support Randy Tack in emails, on Facebook, on Podcasts, and in local publications. It is everywhere and attacking us like a virus.
I am observing our Caucus engage in and promote negative messaging and attacks to justify their poor judgement in canceling the voters of Lake Forest.
I have always supported the Caucus and all it has done for our community. But I cannot support any system of government whose leadership does not honor their own elections and by-laws. If you fear the Caucus is under a life-threatening attack, as per your email Mayor Pandaleon, please note it’s not the Caucus system under attack, but rather a call for change in the leadership who disregarded established Caucus procedures. I implore the Lake Forest Caucus to rise above with new leadership, to restore their election certification process and accept the results.
Again, I question what is truly at stake on April 4th.
This letter to the editor was provided by John Trkla of Lake Forest for Transparency. The views expressed here are the author’s own.