Archive for the ‘2021 Elections’ Category

220 r

Upper from left, William Betz, Sandra Ficke-Bradford, Erin Chan Ding, Katie Karam, Lauren Berkowitz Klauer, and lower from left, Jonathan “Juan” Matta, Malgorzata McGonigal, Michael Shackleton, Steve Wang, Robert Windon are candidates for the Barrington Unit District 220 school board in the 2021 election. Not pictured is candidate Thomas J. Mitoraj

Returns from outside the Cook County portion of Barrington Area Unit District 220 show newcomers leading veterans in the race for the school board’s four open seats. Leading vote-getters also included candidates backed by the Action PAC and Barrington Township Republicans, early returns show.

Cook County voters put newcomer Erin Chan Ding in the lead late Tuesday.

Ding is followed by fellow newcomer Katie Karam with 1,966 votes. Running third is newcomer Steve Wang with 1,953 votes. Both Wang and Karam were endorsed by Action PAC and the Barrington Township Republicans.

Current board vice-president Sandra Ficke-Bradford, who is backed by the teachers union is running fourth with 1,817 votes, early returns show.

In fifth place with 1,810 votes is Malgorzata McGonigal, a third candidate endorsed by the PAC and the Republican organization.

All three of the Action PAC candidates criticized the board for maintaining remote learning last fall.

Read more here.

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Brian Cecola

Brian Cecola appears headed for victory in the race for Barrington Hills village president.

Cecola prevailed over Barrington Hills Park District board member Dennis Kelly Tuesday, unofficial results showed.

With Election Day ballots in all of the village’s 11 precincts reported, Cecola was ahead 497 to 317.

The tally doesn’t include all the votes cast in the race. Mailed-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday that arrive at election offices by April 20 will be counted, as will provisional ballots.

Cecola is a six-year veteran of the village board, and he last won election to a 4-year term in 2019. If he is seated as village president the board will appoint a new trustee to succeed him.

More here.

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220 r

Upper from left, William Betz, Sandra Ficke-Bradford, Erin Chan Ding, Katie Karam, Lauren Berkowitz Klauer, and lower from left, Jonathan “Juan” Matta, Malgorzata McGonigal, Michael Shackleton, Steve Wang, Robert Windon are candidates for the Barrington Unit District 220 school board in the 2021 election. Not pictured is candidate Thomas J. Mitoraj

Early returns in the crowded race for Barrington Area Unit District 220 school board show several candidates backed by the Action PAC and Barrington Township Republicans taking an early lead.

The results from Lake and Kane counties show newcomer Katie Karam leading the 11-candidate field with 946 votes. She’s followed by Steve Wang with 913 votes. The other candidate endorsed by Action PAC and the Barrington Township Republicans, Malgorzata McGonigal, has 793 votes. All three candidates criticized the board for maintaining remote learning last fall.

Cook and McHenry counties have yet to post results. Lake County did not indicate what percentage of precincts were reporting.

Current board vice-president Sandra Ficke-Bradford, who is backed by the Barrington teachers union has 790 votes. Her fellow incumbent Michael Shackleton has 660 votes, early results show.

Read more here.

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220 Green

We received file last night that appears to be a continuation of a recent post (seeSo you wanna run for Barrington CUSD 220 Board?”).  The PDF file can be viewed and downloaded here.

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With so many candidates running for various offices, we’d like to remind readers of the candidates The Barrington Hills Observer wholeheartedly endorses:


If you haven’t already, Please Vote tomorrow! 

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Penny Kazmier – President CUSD 220 Board of Education (And winner of the 2011 Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge)

From a friend of The Observer…

“Dear Friends,

As most of you know, I have served on the Barrington 220 School Board for the past 16 years and am not seeking re-election on Tuesday.  My friend, and former board colleague, Brian Battle and I are concerned about the tone of the election and put together the letter below to express our thoughts.  if you have already voted, great, but if you haven’t, please be sure to vote this coming Tuesday, April 6.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter!


# # #


We are both writing to share our thoughts on the current election for 4 seats to our Barrington 220 School Board this Tuesday, April 6.  After each having served 16 years on the Board, we remain committed to the success of 220, and have been closely following the candidates in this year’s election.  We know you still care about 220 also, but may not have had the time to invest in watching all 3 candidate forums.

COVID has certainly created an interesting backdrop for this election.  The constantly changing guidance has stressed School Boards, teachers, parents and students.  Districts across the suburbs have taken different approaches, however there is no single approach that has proven to make all stakeholders satisfied. One result of this universal frustration is the large numbers of candidates for School Boards across suburban Chicago.  Barrington 220 has 11 candidates that will appear on our ballots, confirmation of the vital role of our schools in our community.

Another result of the COVID response, is the increased presence of partisan support for candidates.  Again, this is a statewide trend, and Barrington 220 is no exception with PACs, partisan political organizations, and employee unions supporting different candidates.  We do not support partisan politics injected into School Board elections.  However, it is not in violation of any election laws.  We suggest you simply ignore this issue as unwanted noise, and focus on selecting the best candidates that will serve our community for the next 4 years.

Regarding the issue of COVID and schools, we have been listening for candidates that appear knowledgeable, take into account all stakeholders, and demonstrate a willingness to be flexible while recognizing the diverse needs of our community’s families and students.  However, we want to emphasize that in choosing which candidates to vote for, our experience has taught us that single issue candidates don’t make the most effective Board Members over the entire 4-year term.

We believe that the next Board will need to address significant issues in addition to re-opening.  These issues include working with a new superintendent, planning and executing the facility improvements approved in last year’s referendum, developing a new long-term strategic plan, negotiating both employee union contracts, addressing equity issues, and maintain our existing strong curriculum and strong financial position.  To accomplish these objectives, we need Board members committed to effective community communications.

After watching the 3 recorded forums involving all of the candidates, as well as discussions with many of the candidates, we believe there are 5 strong individuals worthy of your consideration.  Those five are Sandra Ficke-Bradford, Erin Chan Ding, Tom Mitoraj, Lauren Berkowitz Klauer, and Robert Windon.

We strongly recommend a vote for Sandra, Erin and Tom.

Sandra’s experience will be valuable on the Board with all the challenges we described during the next term.  Sandra is completing her third term on the board and has served on numerous Board committees including finance, policy, labor management. Sandra considers the impact of a decision from all sides and listens to other board members when they speak.

Erin demonstrates a depth of knowledge, enthusiasm, and a commitment to engaging our community. During conversations, she has shown the desire to understand “why” something is the way it is, while thinking creatively about how it might be improved.  Erin is a good listener which comes from her background as a journalist. We believe she will bring thought-provoking ideas to the board, while also respecting the opinions of others.

Tom impressed us during the candidate forums.  Tom is thoughtful, creative, and thoroughly assesses a problem before trying to solve it.  He will be a strong school board member who takes his role seriously, and has financial management experience that will benefit the Board in budgeting and negotiations.  He has also demonstrated his commitment to serving his community through his many years of service to the U.S. Navy.  Tom is forthright and honest, and will do the hard work needed to become an active and involved board member.

For your fourth vote, we suggest you look closely at both Lauren and Robert.  Lauren appears to be genuinely interested in serving our community, and Robert has great community service experience as a trustee for the Village of Barrington.

If you are interested in learning more about these five candidates, here are links to their campaign websites:

Highly Recommended

Sandra Ficke-Bradford:           www.sandrafor220.com
Erin Chan Ding:                       www.erinfor220.com
Tom Mitoraj:                           www.tomfor220.com


Lauren Berkowitz Klauer:       www.facebook.com/lbkfor220
Robert Windon:                      https://www.windon220.com

We hope this helps you in deciding how to cast your votes. Please feel free to forward this email to your friends in our community and as always, contact us if you have any questions.

Please vote next Tuesday, April 6!

Penny Kazmier & Brian Battle”

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The next regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting is tomorrow night, April 6th right after the polls close at 7 PM. The meeting will be held in person at the District Administrative Center.  A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

The number of people in the room will be limited to 50, as suburban Cook County and Lake County are in Phase 4 under the State’s Restore Illinois Plan. The livestream of all meetings are viewable via the Board’s YouTube channel.

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Current Village of Barrington Hills Trustee Brian Cecola

Races for mayor and village president have been some of the most hotly contested showdowns in the Northwest suburbs this election cycle.

Here’s a recap of a handful of the headline-grabbing contests.

Barrington Hills

Two candidates are vying to become Barrington Hills’ next village president.

Brian Cecola, a business owner and six-year village trustee, is taking on Dennis Kelly, the Barrington Hills Park District board president and a local insurance broker.

Incumbent Martin McLaughlin won the state House 52nd District race in November and isn’t seeking reelection.

Cecola touted his hands-on experience in village government. Kelly touted his experience serving on the park board for eight years, saying he would bring a new set of eyes to village hall.

Cecola said the village has lowered its tax levy and cut spending during his tenure on the board and as chairman of the public safety and roads and bridges committees, while at the same time ramping up its road program.

Kelly, the former chairman of the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce board, said he would emphasize transparency (WHAT TRANSPARENCY?) and participation by residents if elected.

Read more here.

Related:Endorsement: Cecola for Barrington Hills village president

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220 Green

Did you know you need to be approved by a school board’s candidate steering committee?  You didn’t?  Neither did former Marine, Masters Degree educated teaching  professional Alex Strobl. He learned this very quickly when he decided to run for Barrington District 220 School Board last December.  To be fair, there isn’t an actual steering committee, just a bunch of local partisan, woke “agendists”, pulling strings behind the scenes, making sure that anyone who runs for the Board shares their leftist ideals and philosophies.  Alex Strobl surely wasn’t aware of this when he accepted an invitation from what he thought was a group of interested parents who might get behind his candidacy.  He thought the Zoom call he was invited to would be informal, cordial, informative and helpful in assessing his chances to win election to the school board.

He was surprised that there were about 30 people on the call, including:

  • Penny Kazmier – current D220 Board President
  • Sandra Bradford-Fike – incumbent Board Member running for re-election
  • Maria Peterson – former Democratic candidate for Lake County Board
  • Members of the Illinois Education Association, local Barrington teachers’ union and other official and non-official local organizations

(It should be noted that the two D220 Board members, Kazmier and Fike-Bradford, never notified the other five D220 school board members about this meeting, and thus, they possibly broke several Open Meetings Act laws, not to mention violated ethics policies and standards of practice for any public board member.)

As you will read from Mr. Strobl himself, this was not a “get to know you …how can we help you” call.  This was a full interview and a formal vetting.  And it was evident from the start, if the candidate didn’t share the “woke” agenda of the panel, he was not welcome.  By the end of the interview, Alex was confused and disappointed in the questions and responses from the unofficial tribunal. He decided that this was NOT for him and this whole vetting process did not make sense.  Who were these people? Who gave them authority? How could his candidacy succeed after this inquisition.  He withdrew from the ballot shortly thereafter.

He decided to chalk it up to experience, and put the whole incident behind him until an article showed up on March 27th https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20210326/league-of-women-voters-decries-party-politics-in-barrington-local-elections in the Daily Herald from Elena Ferrarin and then another https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20210330/party-support-appearing-in-district-211-other-local-races?cid=search by Eric Petersen on March 30th.

In the articles, co-President of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of the Palatine Area, Vicki Martin and others criticized a group of local Barrington moms who had assembled to run for the D220 school board and other offices, accusing them of infusing party politics into non-partisan local elections. The LWV claims of partisan organization were unfounded and frankly stung Alex as quite ironic, based on his experience.

This is what prompted him to submit his letter attached:

It is with heavy heart that I write this but I could not remain silent. My name is Alex Strobl. I am a resident of Lake Barrington, a parent of three elementary aged students, and a former teacher and coach at Barrington High School (2005-2015). Recently I was a candidate running for the Barrington Area Unit School District 220. I am writing to share my experience in running for the school board and why I ultimately dropped my candidacy due to the partisan nature of some of the members on the school board.

I write now in response to (and to further expand on) a Daily Herald article titled “League of Women Voters decries party politics in Barrington local elections.” This article struck a chord with me as I agree that transparency is key. My purpose is to inform my community members and to shed additional light on the process as I experienced it. Specifically to inform you that currently two members of the school board are working hand in hand with partisan groups to select, vet, and sponsor candidates of their choosing. While I believe in robust political engagement of citizens across the spectrum, I believe it is a conflict of interest for school board members – who are in non-partisan positions – to actively be working with groups who select and vet candidates along partisan/ideological lines.

In December I was contacted by a current board member to run. I had previously expressed interest in running for a school board position to that board member and appreciated them reaching out. I am passionate about education, well versed on how things operate within the district, and I thought I could make a positive impact. Like many others, I want what is best for the children of Barrington.

I was told that I would be put in touch with a group that was initially described to me as a “group of community parents that could help get out the vote” and one that has helped to “elect other candidates.” Days later, someone else reached out to me to set up a meeting. The next day I signed into a Zoom call with about thirty members of the community. On the call were two current school board members: Penny Kazmier (current president) and Sandra Ficke-Bradford. I was told at the time that the group was a sort of steering committee and that the group was looking to diversify the school board in Barrington. The discussion we had and the questions that were asked seemed to be at one end of the spectrum. I mentioned to the group that I was not only a social studies teacher but was also an executive coach and a former Marine. In each instance, when I responded, my answers were analyzed and a member of the committee would “encourage” me to fine-tune it or at times to reframe it in another way. It was not at all what I expected. I had expected more of a dialogue in my first interaction. More importantly, I was taken aback that I was speaking to a group which I felt represented the school board and was left feeling that I did not fit their desired mold. Again, citizen groups can align to whomever they choose. The difficulty comes with the addition of school board members and the feeling that I needed to change to be welcomed on the board. I felt this interaction represented the board at large because I had been put in touch with the group by a current member coupled with the visible presence and participation of another two board members on the call. In short, in the weeks after the call I was disheartened by what I perceived to be the partisan nature of the group and a directive around what could and could not be said. It is ultimately why I withdrew from the race.

I have genuine desire to help unite this community and serve the students in another capacity. Perhaps I was a little naïve in believing that a non-partisan position such as the school board could ultimately be non-partisan. That said, I feel compelled to surface the hypocrisy of groups and articles pointing to “party politics” while other groups are quietly doing it themselves. I want to ensure that my friends, neighbors, and fellow community members know the machinery behind the scenes of the school board election.

Alex Strobl

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Spring just sprung, and many find ourselves in the biennial rite of Village elections season. It is recognizable from campaign signs dotting the countryside to complete strangers ringing the door or gate bell of our five-acre sanctuaries from masked humanity saying, “Howdy Neighbor,” causing you to wonder what unannounced circumstances you’re in for.

For the uninitiated, it will be an opportunity to meet a neighbor.  For others it represents something akin to an unsolicited sales pitch trying to convince you to vote a certain way.  If it’s the latter, you’re likely encountering a “special interest club” member.

Some of these club members can be the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  Others, however, might say anything to sway your vote, and we’ve heard a lot of the classics.  Either way, these club members manage to get eighty to ninety percent of their membership roster to the polls; thus, the reason for our request for all residents to take the time to vote. Here are our reasons:

  • Four years ago, at the height of the special interest club’s campaign frenzy, current Village President Marty McLaughlin tied for McHenry County votes against his competitor. His winning margin was only 65 votes.
  • In this same election, two special interest club members won by just three and four votes, and they’re both running again as a ticket, despite the fact one has missed a quarter of Board of Trustees meetings (a years’ worth).

Currently, the special interest club is fronting four of their Cook County members as candidates who would represent a majority of seats on our Village Board of Trustees.  We believe it important the county be mentioned since most of their interests in running is county centric, such as the revival of commercial horse boarding conflict and wanting to have more control of the Forest Preserve of Cook County’s Horizon Farms on top of the extensive trail system.

Leading this group is the current president of the Barrington Hills Park District who is running for Village President.  Transparency is not in his vocabulary, nor is fiscal responsibility or expense reduction.  In fact, our Park District has seen a 17% increase in levies under his watch, and three month ago he asked what the legal limit was for raising the 2021 levy prior to the required formal hearing – and he then approved that maximum raise.

Contrast that with the repeated seven levy decreases we’ve experienced along with many other financial benefits our village has experienced in eight years.  Benefits such as lower taxes, vastly improved roads, legal expenses that are a small fraction of what they were under the prior village president, just to name a few.

The way to continue the positive progress Barrington Hills has benefited from is to elect candidates with the values instilled by Martin McLaughlin and Colleen KonicekHannigan when they first took office eight years ago.

To accomplish that, all residents reading this need to make every effort possible to vote. We’re confident Brian Cecola is up for the challenge to serve as President as are David Riff, Tom Strauss and Laura Ekstrom to serve as Trustees. They not only have our endorsement, but also the endorsements of those with the highest regard of most residents; Marty McLaughlin and Colleen Konicek Hannigan.

So yes, if you want to continue the positive momentum we’ve enjoyed for eight years, please take the time to vote!

Early voting times and locations can be found here.

Related: We’ve Been Clubbed by Commercial Horse Boarding

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