Township caucuses set for Tuesday night with eye on services
By Cathy Janek For the Sun November 30, 2012 5:48PM
Township caucuses are set for Tuesday evening. Here are the facts concerning the caucuses in Naperville:
Democratic caucus, IBEW Offices, 28600 Bella Vista Parkway, Warrenville, 7 p.m.
Republican caucus, Barn Recreation Center, Knoch Park, 421 W. Martin Ave., Naperville, doors open at 6 p.m. with the meeting at 7 p.m.
Democratic caucus, 1S500 Taylor Road, Glen Ellyn, caucus begins at 7:30 p.m.
Republican caucus, DuPage County Fairgrounds, Main Exhibit Building, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton, doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the caucus begins at 7 p.m.
Democratic caucus, Lisle Public Library, 777 Front St., Lisle, doors opening at 6:30 p.m.
Republican caucus, Bobak’s Signature Events, 6440 Double Eagle Drive, Woodridge, doors open at 6 p.m.
Republican caucus, John F. Kennedy Middle School, 12350 Essington Road, Plainfield, doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Democratic caucus, Ashbury’s at Boughton Ridge, 355 E. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook, caucus will begin at 7 p.m.
Republican caucus, The Levy Center, 251 Canterbury Lane, Bolingbrook, caucus will begin at 7 p.m.
Updated: January 3, 2013 6:25AM
Township government is considered to be our oldest form of government and is often dubbed as government functioning at the most grass-roots level. This will be evident when separate caucuses for Republicans and Democrats are held Tuesday in townships across Illinois to determine who will be slated to run for township elected positions in the general election on April 9, 2013.
“It is an interesting time for township government,” Anna Banks Simeon, chairwoman of the Lisle Township Democratic Organization, said. “In other areas, people are putting forth the notion that township government is duplicative and redundant.”
Looking forward, it would be good for township governments to take a good look at the services they provide, Simeon said.
“Self-evaluation is needed,” she said.
While some caucuses in Illinois will be calm and mainly procedural, other caucuses are gearing up to be fiercely fought contests. The most contentious battles in Naperville undoubtedly will be held in the Republican caucuses, since the party has a stranglehold on elected positions.
“In the Naperville area, there are very competitive township elections for the first time in my 30 years involved in local government,” said Gary Vician, the current Naperville Township supervisor who has the unique distinction of facing his former spouse in the Republican Party caucus.
“All four current trustees are not running for the trustee position. Three are retiring and one is running for township clerk,” according to Warren Dixon Jr., the Naperville Township assessor who will be retiring at the end of his term with hopes of having his son Warren Dixon III to fill his shoes in the assessor’s role.
At the Naperville Township Republican Organization precinct committee meeting, the following candidates were endorsed by a supermajority: Warren Dixon III for assessor, Stan Wojtasiak for highway commissioner, Rachel Ossyra for supervisor and Barry Greenberg for clerk. Janice Anderson, Kerry Malm, Paul Santucci and Bob Wegner were all endorsed for the four township trustee positions by the Republican organization.
“They endorsed this group because they are a unified group of candidates who can work with each other and could lead the township staff,” Dixon Jr. said.
Vician, who has been township supervisor for one term, following three terms as a trustee, was conspicuously missing from the list of endorsed candidates. He is running for the post, though. Also running are Fred Spitzerri for clerk, who is a current township trustee, and Thomas Laz for trustee.
“All three candidates (Vician, Spitzerri, and Laz) submitted qualified letters of intent as well. They will be on the ballot at the caucus,” according to Ossyra, who is making her first run for township supervisor against her former spouse, Gary Vician.
A particularly harsh battle has arisen between the township supervisor and assessor. Vician has charged Dixon Jr. with nepotism based on work Dixon’s sister and nephew have done for the township.
“My sister was hired by the former assessor nearly 29 years ago and retired last year and is no longer a township employee. This should not even be an issue,” Dixon Jr. said. “My nephew worked for a computer consulting firm that did web design for Naperville Township about 10 to 15 years ago.”
Vician contends that there are other candidates for the assessor position that may be more qualified than the current assessor’s son. Dixon Jr. contends his son is well qualified for the position.
“He serves as an alternate member of the board of review for the DuPage County Assessor’s Office and he currently works for Lockport Township in the assessor’s office,” Dixon Jr. said.
In addition, he said his son has received endorsements from all other DuPage County township assessors.
The salaries for Naperville Township’s elected officials are also at issue.
“We have had some controversy with regard to salaries,” Vician said. “Naperville Township salaries had measured to be among the highest in Illinois. “In some places we have just blatant waste of money. My focus has been on moving the money to the needy people in our community. Instead, we are spending money on elected officials.”
Dixon Jr. said that there is another side to the salary issue.
“Salaries were set by the elected officials and are now set for the next five years,” he said. “They are required to be set for the next term. I made the recommendation to reduce the assessor’s salary by 10 percent based on the current economy.”
On the Democratic side, Diane McGuire, chairwoman of the Naperville Township Democratic Orgnaization said that the Democrats “xpect to have a slate of candidates for the Naperville Township election in every position with the exception of the assessor.”
A similarly contentious situation is playing out in Wheatland Township. However, the opponents may not face each other until the general election in April.
Due in part to the controversy surrounding the construction of a new township building, current Wheatland Township Supervisor Todd Morse has decided to run as an independent and not participate in the Republican party caucus, a group of which at one time he was the chairman.
“There has been a strong tea party movement in Wheatland Township and many of those individuals are part of the Wheatland Republican organization. I am running independently because I have views that are different from theirs,” Morse said.
He said that letters have gone out to homeowners in Wheatland Township with perceived inaccuracies that would have prevented him from receiving fair treatment at the Republican caucus.
The Republican slate vying for approval Tuesday includes current Township Clerk Chuck Kern who is running for township supervisor; Bill Alstrom for clerk; Scott Bishop for highway commissioner; David Monaghan for assessor; and Ben Peterson for collector.
Trustees on the slate include Deb Holscher, Raquel Mitchell, Darren Bennefield and Mike Crockett.
No one from the Wheatland Township Democratic Organization returned phone calls regarding their caucus.
The death of the Lisle Township highway commissioner in August led to several elected officials being moved to other positions. For the upcoming caucus, every position with the exception of assessor will be facing an opponent.
“Back in late August, the longtime highway commissioner passed away. The position had to be filled quickly so the highway commission could continue to pay its vendors,” Jim Vondran, assistant to the Lisle Township supervisor, said.
The former supervisor, Charles Clarke, was elected highway commissioner. Lisle Township Clerk Richard Tarulis filled the role of the supervisor. One of the trustees, Robert Klaeren, was elected to fill the term of the township clerk.
It was an interesting evening, since all three elected officials first had to resign their former positions prior to taking the oath for their new roles.
Mike Loftus, the caucus chairman of the Lisle Township Republican Organization said that the group won’t “slate any candidates prior to the caucus. We participate in the caucus so people can come and ask questions.”
The following individuals have declared interest in Lisle Township elected positions and will be participating at the caucus on Tuesday, according to Loftus. Candidates for township supervisor are Richard Tarulis and Charles Schneider. Township clerk candidates are Robert Klaeren and Lynda Filapello, while Charles Clarke and Vito Modica are both running for highway commissioner.
Six individuals are running for four township trustee positions including Michael Tams, Michael Riedy, Sharon Connell, Richard Rekash, Edward Young and Teresa Lohse.
Township assessor John Trowbridge is running unopposed.
On the opposite side of the fence, Banks Simeon, chairman of the Lisle Township Democratic Organization, said: “We want to slate candidates who will do the best job for our community. If we don’t have the best candidates for a position, we won’t slate them.”
The township caucus for the Democratic Party of Milton Township will be at the home of the party’s leader Marian Tomlinson.
“We are still working on our list of candidates and we won’t know until closer to the caucus who they will be,” Tomlinson said.
She noted that is it unlikely that the Democratic caucus in Milton will have a full slate for the general election, but they will have candidates for several positions.
At its Nov. 14 meeting the Milton Township Republican Central Committee selected the following slate of candidates: O. Chris Heidorn for township supervisor, Gail P. Hinkle for township clerk, Chris. E. Levan for township assessor, Gary L. Muehlfelt for township highway commissioner and Sal Falbo, Pat Kehoe, Marty and Yadav Nathwani for township trustees.
“We have a full slate of candidates. Any other individuals would already have had to give me notification of their intent to participate in the caucus,” Lori Carlson, chairwoman of the Milton Township Republicans said.
DuPage Township Supervisor Bill Mayer is expecting a very calm evening Tuesday.
“I don’t see a big push or hoopla occurring,” he said.
In addition to Mayer, who will be seeking another term as township supervisor, the current Township Clerk Patricia Stach and the Township Assessor John E. Randall also will be seeking another term. Trustees Alyssia Benford and Sheldon Watts will be running for another term.
“We have a few other people who have expressed an interest in the trustee position,” Mayer said. “We have accomplished a great deal for our community,” Mayer said. Most recently, he said DuPage Township gave out 1,500 Thanksgiving meals to economically challenged township residents.
The DuPage Township Democratic Organization formed a three-person panel to examine potential candidates for township positions, according to Norman Brown, chairman of the group. One individual has met with the panel, and Brown expects three or four others to come forward and present themselves at the caucus for trustee positions.
“We are seeking credible, good candidates that we can stand behind,” he said. “It is about quality candidates that are involved in the community, have good standing and character, and not necessarily about filling a slate.”