Early Voting Begins in Highland Park
Mayoral choices draw split in informal poll, but District 113 referendum is a heavy favorite.
More than 45 people cast ballots in the first three hours of early voting Monday, with an informal exit poll of a third of those voters showing that they're evenly divided between the mayoral candidates but overwhelmingly in support of the District 113 schools' bond referendum.
Highland Park had the highest voter turnout in Lake County for the first day of early voting, with 111 people casting ballots. Vernon Township came in second with 45.
Frank was the third person to vote at the location. “I was the third person to vote and I’m third on the ballot,” he said. “I have number synergy."
Olian, a five-year member of the City Council, is running against fellow Councilwoman Nancy Rotering, who was first elected in 2009.
Olian did not vote Monday. She said that she will cast her ballot during the formal April 5 turnout.
“I’m not going to camp out at the North Shore Health Center, but I’ll be here on a daily basis,” Olian said. “I’m going to continue to talk to people and show that I care."
Betsy Cerf, the mother of council candidate Carolyn Cerf, gave little doubt on how she marked her ballot. “Of course I voted for my daughter,” she said, but did not reveal any other choices.
Frank and Cerf are two of five candidates vying for three spots on the City Council. The others are David Naftzger, Tony Blumberg and Lane Young.
During a 90-minute span Monday morning, Patch had the opportunity to talk to 15 voters. Of those who disclosed their choices, Rotering and Olian had six votes each while 10 people favored the District 113 referendum and five opposed it.
“I have kids … who will soon be in high school,” said Leslie Cohn, wife of District 112 school board candidate Michael Cohn. “I think it's important to have a fantastic school system to bring families to the neighborhood."
John and Angela Harty voted against the $133 million referendum because they fear it would squeeze their limited pocketbook. “We live on Social Security,” John Harty said.
Concern for the education of Highland Park’s children overshadowed the economic concerns of those interviewed as they broke strongly in favor of authorizing a bond issue that will make significant infrastructure improvements at Highland Park and Deerfield high schools.
“I think that we don't spend enough on our schools and on education,” Christopher Boss said. “We need to prioritize to be able to continue the excellent school system that we have here.”
Some supporters of Olian and Rotering were passionate, while others dissected the candidates’ qualities to make their choice.
“I love Nancy,” Michele Friedland said. “She’ll be great for our community. She’s willing to attack the hard questions.”
I.B. Tamarri, who knows both mayoral contenders, gave her nod to Olian, saying she provided more “substance” on the issues.
“I know both. Nancy campaigns quite a lot, knocked on my door, which is OK,” Tamarri said. “Between the two, Terri is giving me more. It's not a matter of who I like more; it's a matter of who is giving me more positive issues for the community."
Another voter, Laurie Bartell, echoed Friedland in praising Rotering’s willingness to challenge issues as a council member.
“She’s not afraid to challenge the status quo,” Bartell said. “Her educational background gives her a much wider perspective.”
Boss said he considered both candidates and decided Olian was his pick for mayor.
“I really like Highland Park and I think it's been run really well,” Boss said. “I met her [Olian] at a meeting and talked to her, and I learned about her experience, her involvement long term with the city.”