Rotering Wins Mayoral Race; District 113 Referendum Fails
The councilwoman defeated councilwoman Terri Olian by 347 votes.
After Tuesday's victory, Nancy Rotering will become the first woman in 142 years of Highland Park electoral history to hold the mayor’s gavel. The councilwoman narrowly defeated fellow councilwoman Terri Olian by 347 votes.
Rotering will be joined by three newly elected City Council members—Paul Frank, Tony Blumberg and David Naftzger. They replace Olian, whose term expires next month, and councilmen Scott Levenfeld and Larry Silberman, both of whom did not seek re-election.
With Rotering appointing her replacement, a majority of the seven member council will not have previously served. Councilmen Jim Kirsch and Steve Mandel have two years remaining in their terms.
After months of knocking on door after Highland Park door during the campaign, Rotering was thrilled with the outcome.
“I’m looking for my experience in law and government to help me,” she said.
The mayor-elect will pursue an open, collaborative process to choose her successor and the newest council member. She expects input from the new and existing councilmen. She is inviting people to place their names for consideration.
“I’m going to look to leadership from the council to nominate the new (council person),” Rotering said. “There will be a review by the council overall, including the new members.”
Olian said she did not want the seat. She wished her colleague well as mayor. “I hope she will be a good mayor,” Olian said. “I hope she lives up to all the promises she made.”
Rotering said in her acceptance speech that she wants to find ways for Highland Park’s different governing bodies to work together. Frank agrees, and sees that as a top priority.
“We need more ways for local governments to work together more efficiently and more effectively,” Frank said. He also admitted he had a lot to learn before making changes.
Naftzger accepts the new City Council has a number of issues to consider and is “looking forward to serving the city.”
Blumberg, like Rotering, wants to start looking at Highland Park’s budget earlier in the year.
District 113 referendum fails
In other election news, the $133 million Township High School District referendum was overwhelmingly rejected. Incumbent District 113 School Board members Marjie Sandlow and Michael Smith were re-elected and will be joined by new members David Small and Debra Hymen.
In the contest for the North Shore School District 112 Board of Education, Bruce Hyman was re-elected. He will be joined by new members Yumi Ross and Michael Cohn.
The reconstituted District 113 School Board must now deal with the needed capital improvements at Highland Park and Deerfield High Schools in light of the voters’ rebuke of its proposed plan.
“People recognized a better plan was needed,” Pete Koukos said. Koukos was one of the leaders of Education First, the advocacy group opposed to the referendum. “The board will now have to revisit the issue addressing needs, not wants.”
Robert Kelman, the campaign manager for Citizens Aiming for Responsible Enhancements for 113 Schools (CARE), the advocacy group supporting the referendum, believes improvements will eventually be made at the schools.
“At the end of the day, people know what needs to be done and it will be done,” Kelman said. “People still care about the schools.”
Annette Lidawer, a board member whose term expires in 2013, was disappointed with the defeat of the proposed spending plan. She recognizes necessary work remains, and hopes to see a new ballot proposal in the March, 2012 primary election.
“I hope we can provide for our children the way we have an obligation to do so,” she said. “We need to look at this before construction costs go up and before our needs escalate even further.”
Sandlow sees the failed referendum and the district’s budget as her top priorities as she begins a new term.
“We have to take a look at the referendum and see where we go from here,” she said.
Small considers the re-election of the two incumbents to the District 113 board as a ratification of the group’s work to date. He also considers the voters’ rejection of the referendum as an opportunity.
“We have to develop a plan for addressing our needs with a re-direction based on the mandate made by the community,” Small said.
New park district commissioners
Meyers and Weisskopff hope to restore the city’s faith in the Park District after a pension spiking scandal uncovered last summer caused a public uproar. Meyers was appointed to fill a spot on the board last November and is pleased he'll be able to continue.
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to keep working hard for Highland Park,” Meyers said. “The new board will be able to accomplish a lot and I’m honored to be part of it.”
Weisskopff began her affiliation with the park district as a young girl attending camps on scholarship.
“I’m humbled. I started as a camper on financial aid and here I am,” Weisskopff said. “I truly believe we can reach traction with the Park District with this group.”
See exact voter totals below:
All 29 precincts have reported and the early voting results have been counted. Winners are in bold.
Park District Board (Four Year Term)
Lori Flores Weisskopf: 5,217 votes, 37.15%
Leo Vilker: 855 votes, 6.09%
Benjamin Kutscheid: 1,636 votes, 11.65%
Brian Kaplan: 4,818 votes, 34.31%
Lorry Werhane, Jr.: 1,518 votes, 10.81%
School District 113
David B. Small: 6,384 votes, 13.97%
Marjie Rosen Sandlow: 6,446 votes, 14.10%
David Scott Greenberg: 4,702 votes, 10.29%
Corinne Bronson-Adatto: 2,859 votes, 6.25%
Debra Hymen: 6,093 votes, 13.33%
Steven Narrod: 4,645 votes, 10.16%
Michael Smith: 5,055 votes, 11.06%
Mark A. Mulert: 3,166 votes, 6.93%
Carl Lambrecht: 2,166 votes, 4.74%
Matilda M. Manfredini: 4,193 votes, 9.17%
District 113 Referendum
YES: 6,831 votes, 43.50%
NO: 8,872 votes, 56.50%
Earlier 6:10 p.m.:
The brisk pace of voting matched the brisk spring weather Tuesday as people flocked to the polls to elect Highland Park’s first female mayor and decide whether Township High School District 113 will spend $133 million on capital improvements for Highland Park and Deerfield High Schools.
Voters will also choose three new members of the City Council from five candidates, three Park District commissioners from seven possibilities, four people from 10 to sit on the District 113 board and three people from four to join the North Shore School District 112 Board.
As of 2 p.m., an informal survey conducted by Patch beginning at 9:30 a.m. and covering six polling places showed that 2,439 people had voted. Prior to election day, 3,140 persons cast ballots, assuring a higher turnout than the 5,625 who decided the city’s last contested mayoral contest in 2003.
“The turnout has been heavy,” election official Stony Freeman said at Northwood Middle School. Freeman has been working that site election day for 50 years. “The mayoral (election) and referendum are bringing them out.”
Candidates and referendum representatives were crisscrossing the eight polling places from the time voting began at 6 a.m.
“We’ve been to all polling places but two and we’re on our way there shortly,” mayoral candidate and Councilwoman Nancy Rotering said shortly after 2 p.m. “We’re having a great time greeting old friends and new friends."
Rotering voted at 8 a.m. at Ravinia School with her husband and their four children before heading to other spots to greet voters.
She was not the only one making election day a civics lesson for a youngster. Kelley Folino, district director for Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth), brought her son Andrew, a fifth grader at Ravinia, with her when she made cast her ballot.
“We were in D.C. for the week and this was a perfect way to end (vacation),” Folino said. “I wouldn’t miss an election. I never have.”
A number of people were seen voting with children in tow. Tuesday was the last day of District 112’s spring break.
Councilwoman Terri Olian, the other mayoral contender, greeted voters at Highland Park train stations and other places before casting her ballot at 10:25 a.m.
“I’m feeling great,” Olian said. “It’s a good day with great handshakes and great hugs.” As Patch made its tour of polling places, Olian was just ahead at Red Oak School and later at Northwood Middle School.
Residents expressed support for both mayoral candidates, though most were unwilling to name their choice. The referendum was a different story.
Robert Dillon, who voted late this morning at the Ravinia Festival grounds, is the parent of a pair of Highland Park High School graduates and a staunch supporter of District 113’s spending plan.
"Education is premier to my family," he said. "The school was wonderful for my children.”
Gary Lazar voted against the referendum at Lincoln School this morning. He claimed the plan was ill conceived and its timing was poor.
“This is the wrong time to do this,” he said.
As noon approached, Red Oak School flooded with more candidates than voters. Olian was there along with City Council hopeful Paul Frank, District 112 School Board contender Paul Tatelli, District 113 School Board candidate Marjie Sandlow and park commissioner candidate Scott Meyers. Betsy Cerf waited for her daughter, Carolyn, a City Council candidate, to join her.
Robert Kelman was also at Red Oak. He heads the effort of Citizens Aiming for Responsible Enhancements (CARE), the advocacy group supporting the referendum. He seemed more optimistic than many of the individual candidates.
“We’re doing well because this is for the schools,” he said.
“We agreed it was a good way to get our message out,” Naftzger said.
Election Day has arrived.
After the forums, coffees and campaign events, it's finally time for voters to chose the candidates who will become Highland Park's next mayor and fill seats on the Park District board and two school boards. It's time for Highland Park residents to decide if they want to fund a $133 million renovation plan for its high school district, or if they want to go back to the drawing board.
Highland Park Patch will bring you photos throughout the day of candidates and residents voting across the city. We will be with the candidates after the votes get counted and will bring you the results as soon as we have them. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates all day long and keep checking back here for more news.
In the meantime, click here if you're looking for some background on all 28 candidates before you visit your polling station. And if you take any photos during what will surely be one of the busiest days for local politics this year, feel free to upload them to this article.
Oh, and if you see our team of reporters hustling around, frantically seeking out quotes and photos and video, stop one of them and say hello.