Grayslake Elementary District 46 board President Mary Garcia says she's concerned Lake County tea party members are involved with three opponents in what's supposed to be a nonpartisan election.
At issue for Garcia are tea party Twitter messages, known as tweets, that went out last week with website links for District 46 board candidates Shannon Smigielski, Marchell Norris and Kip Evans.
"I have never seen this before and it really concerns me," Garcia said. "Are there going to be personal agendas brought to the table?"
Lennie Jarratt of Round Lake Beach, who founded the Lake County tea party more than a year ago, said the links were tweeted for information purposes only and not an endorsement of the candidates. He said he'll tweet website links for Garcia and another incumbent in the race, Susan Facklam, if they are online.
Norris, Evans and Smigielski are seeking elected office for the first time. All three said they are not tea party activists and can't control whether potential voters support their messages about the need for fiscal responsibility at District 46.
Smigielski said she's taken great pains to show she's running independently. Norris and Evans say they are supporting each other's campaigns.
"I did not encourage, solicit or invite any of this," Smigielski said of the tweets.
Garcia, 48, of Grayslake, is seeking her second 4-year term on the board. She's an instructor at Northbrook/Glenview Elementary District 30 and president of the teachers union local there.
She said she follows the Illinois Education Association union philosophy of doing what's best for students in a financially responsible way. Garcia said she isn't political in her union role and remains nonpartisan on the District 46 board.
Facklam couldn't be reached for comment. Five candidates are seeking three, 4-year seats in the April 5 election.
Tea partyers tend to be conservative and typically voice concerns about spiraling taxes and a lack of government transparency. They have branched beyond federal issues and are getting involved in suburban elections.
For example, Roman Golash is a tea partyer running in Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 in part because of fiscal concerns.
Meanwhile, the District 46 candidates have completed Daily Herald campaign questionnaires and list what they consider a top issue in the race.
Garcia said she'll push for funding and sustainability of current student programs and work to maintain the district's annual yearly progress status on the state report card.
Smigielski, 41, a school bus driver from Hainesville, said she plans to help create a board of education that welcomes input and accounts for the entire community.
Norris, a private business owner from Round Lake who declined to provide her age, said she wants policies that ensure District 46 is financially accountable to taxpayers while maintaining quality education.
Facklam, 58, an on-hiatus registered nurse from Grayslake elected in 2003, said she wants to continue progressing toward establishing and maintaining high quality education for students.
Evans, 63, a retired teacher from Grayslake, said his first priority would be to implement necessary policies to ensure the school board is held accountable to the taxpayers.