Candidates Hit the Streets Days Before Election
Mayoral, council and school board hopefuls cross paths visiting voters at popular spots Saturday.
Highland Park mayoral candidates Terri Olian and Nancy Rotering may disagree on some issues, but they're on the same page when it comes to picking the best noontime spot to greet voters and grab lunch the Saturday before the April 5 elections.
As the two candidates focused on meeting as many citizens as they could in a busy day of campaigning, they converged on Once Upon A Bagel when lunch time arrived. It seemed like they both knew everyone in the room, exchanging handshakes and hugs.
“Many have voted and many more have not,” Olian said of the people she saw during the day. She was referring to 2,851 people who cast ballots during the early voting period that ended Thursday.
“It’s been an opportunity to catch up with old friends. I’ve met new people each day,” Rotering said of her campaign experience. “I enjoy talking to people to find out what’s on their minds."
Olian and Rotering, both members of the City Council, took some time together at lunch to visit with restaurant owners Gerry and Steve Geffen. That’s when the two mayoral rivals showed another difference. Rotering was eating a plain bagel while Olian chose a multigrain.
Groups campaign for and against District 113 referendum
In other pre-election activity Saturday, supporters and opponents of Township High School District 113's bond referendum were strategically planted throughout downtown Highland Park. Candidates for City Council and the high school board were also out campaigning.
District 113 candidate Matilda Manfredini spent some of her day greeting people who were casting absentee ballots at the Lake County North Shore Health Center in Highland Park. She was also campaigning against the $133 million referendum, along with Education First volunteers Sam Gess and Elaine Soble.
“This is a very poor plan at the wrong time,” Soble said of the proposal to spend $133 million on capital improvements at Highland Park and Deerfield high schools.
Soble also expressed distaste over claims by a referendum supporter, Citizens Aiming for Responsible Enhancements (CARE), that the bond measure would have no effect on property taxes.
“It makes me personally angry they [CARE] say there is no tax increase,” Soble said. “There will be a [tax] decrease in 2013 by the amount this [the referendum] will raise our taxes.”
While opponents of the ballot question concentrated efforts around the early voting center, volunteers for CARE were at downtown corners. Highland Park High School junior Bryce Robertson, also an Olian volunteer, tried to persuade voters outside Corner Bakery that the spending was necessary.
“I plan to live in Highland Park after college. I want young people to get as good an education as I have,” Robertson said. “I’ve been hindered by the buildings. We need quality.”
Like Manfredini, Lee Mulert did double duty as she stood outside Starbucks in Highland Park campaigning for the referendum and for her husband, District 113 school board contender Mark Mulert. She sees danger in the schools’ older buildings.
“Grandfathering does not make it OK,” Mulert said, referring to the schools' exemption from a fire prevention sprinkler system. “If there’s a fire, it’s going to be hard to get out.”
Earlier in the day, Rotering and Olian were joined at the post office by City Council candidate Tony Blumberg; Pete Koukos, a leading advocate against the referendum; and Alexis Hymen, the daughter of Debra Hymen, a District 113 school board candidate.
David Naftzger, another City Council prospect, spent time at the early voting center and the post office.
City Council candidate Lane Young met voters at Port Clinton Square on Saturday morning. Another contender, Carolyn Cerf, greeted people at the Highland Park Theatre and library as well as going door to door.
City Council hopeful Paul Frank did a lot of knocking on voters’ doors Saturday but did find time to meet his family for lunch at Country Kitchen. He said he also greeted as many voters as he could at the restaurant.
With citizens sharply divided over the referendum and mayoral race, Highland Park resident Sheri Geller said she understood the need to unite as community after the election. She saw both Rotering and Olian while she had lunch at Once Upon A Bagel.
“On April 6, we have to come together,” Geller said.